Peachette storms in, breaks the Mario lore and adds fun platforming tricks!
To be completely honest, I didn't play New Super Mario Bros. U much during the Wii U's launch. There were plenty of other games I was more interested in and wanted to see through until the end. It is not even that I dislike New Super Mario Bros. games, but I did play one mere months before. Basically, even of the bits I did play, it is not like I exactly remember the majority of the levels. In that sense, you could say that a large chunk of New Super Mario Bros. U is completely new to me. Did that change my perception in any major ways? Just a tiny bit.
The ideas behind a New Super Mario Bros. game aren't hard to explain. It is an expansive 2D platforming game with plenty of levels to get through. There are eight worlds set in various environments with plenty of fine tricks to boot. Along the way, you will use a variety of power-ups to help you reach the flagpole at the end. These games aren't meant to be the most challenging journeys out there, but getting every Star Coin will make it entertaining for most players. For everybody else, they can scrap by with simple jumps and no usage of the run button. It is solid for most types of players.
Does that make them the most exciting titles out there? Not exactly, no. Because of these core principles, it needs to hit a certain line where everybody can enjoy the stages. Personally, it really depends on the level. While the opening moments leave me feeling a little flat, I can't help but like the levels in Frosted Glacier and Soda Jungle. They throw solid one-trick ponies that force you to think about which moves you do. Of course, even if the level doesn’t feel exciting, they aren’t truly bad in any sense. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is the finest selection of levels that the team behind these games has created. In addition, the world map feels connected and more alive than any other game in the series. That being said, it is not on the same level of uniqueness as some other 2D platformers in recent memory.
What made New Super Mario Bros. U unique initially was its newest power-up: the Squirrel Suit. Now, I have to be honest and say that I couldn't care less about this one. Yes, I'm sure that some love its sideways momentum and the ability of clinging to walls, but I really can't get on with it that well. It felt like a worse combination of the Propeller and Tanooki suits. In U Deluxe we also get the introduction of Peachette. Once the new playable character, Toadette, touches the Super Crown, she will transform into a Peach with pigtails. While it may be the most confusing thing in the Super Mario canon, the functionality is something I'm rather on board with. By pressing a button or shaking the controller, Peachette gives you some excellent upwards flight.
Peachette has made the goal of completing 100 percent, something that more people can achieve. A good example is how for one secret exit, you would normally need a lot to get the job done. It would require a Squirrel Suit, a P-Switch press and a bunch of timed jumps. With Peachette, I had to jump and use the special move to get the same amount of height required. Another intriguing element is that the new character has a longer downward recovery, which can help you time your descent better. Even in the instances where you can't pull it off and seem to fall into a pit, Peachette will use her special move one last time to potentially save you. It doesn't always work out, but it is a pleasant option nonetheless.
Outside of Toadette's various new costume choices, there isn't that much new to New Super Mario Bros. U. In fact, the Nintendo Switch's specific credits are relegated to the Secret House where you can see your overall statistics. The world is no longer populated by messages like on Wii U, and there aren't new levels added to make the ultimate edition. The Play with Mii modes (Challenges, Boost Rush and Coin Battle) are still all present, though the ability to place blocks to help other players is no longer available. You can, however, still create your own coin patterns for Coin Battle by accessing the game in handheld mode.
As far as New Super Luigi U is concerned, the changes with Toadette are somewhat more severe. If you play it with any other character, it is the standard experience that you could've enjoyed in 2013, but Toadette's campaign increases the strict time limit from 100 to 200 seconds. This is completely overkill as Peachette helps to overcome some of the harsher challenges. I do respect that they want let a wider public enjoy Luigi U, but challenge is supposed to be the name of the game. It goes against the regular design decisions in a NSMB game by forcing you to use every possible trick in the book. Running, jumping, timed actions, and learning Luigi's new momentum are required if you want to finish this harsher journey in full. Don't get me wrong, it is still not the easiest set of levels out there, but the impact of it feels lessened somewhat.
The presentation of New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a lot sharper than before. The game now runs in native 1080p on the television, so the textures look very crisp. It is seriously a colorful spectacle to play on a big screen, especially with some other people involved. The bigger surprise with the presentation is that they completely overhauled the game's menu UIs. They used to be a lot more plain, but the save files now showcase the character you last played and how many lives you have. In addition, the “Play with Mii” row has more prominent buttons featuring Mario. It isn't overly much in the grand scheme of things, but I appreciate the little touches they added.
Overall, I am having a solid time with New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. It isn't the most amazing thing out there, but the game offers up fine 2D-platforming comfort food. Peachette is the weirdest addition ever, but I thoroughly enjoy her moveset. In hindsight, it makes the Squirrel Suit feel very awkward, which I never really managed to gel with. The players who are expecting a lot of new content will not likely appreciate New Super Mario Bros. U a second time, but for most people, it is a fairly accessible Super Mario title.