You think your job sucks? Imagine playing second fiddle to a guy who isn’t as talented, good looking, or as agile as you are. That’s the dilemma faced by Luigi Mario (of Mario Bros. fame) for the past 30 years. But that’s all about to change in 2013. Because this year Nintendo has proclaimed it as the “year of Luigi” and in New Super Luigi U he is now the main star of the show. We’ve already had spooky ghost hunting adventures in Luigi’s Mansion, but how will the younger plumber fair in his own side scrolling adventure? Read on to find out.
For starters, it should be noted that New Super Luigi U is being considered downloadable content, but if anything, it’s much more akin to an expansion. The Nintendo eShop version of game will not boot up if players do not have the New Super Mario Bros. U disc in their Wii U console. It’s something that I found somewhat surprising considering that the content itself comes in at almost 800 MB and a retail version is releasing in August Either way, if you plan on taking this game for a spin right now, make sure you can fill in that minor pre-requisite.
Players who pick up New Super Luigi U will immediately notice that it doesn’t deter too far from the original New Super Mario Bros U from last year. Actually, it’s pretty much the same game with a couple of added extras that make for a varied experience. Even the game’s opening falls in line with what we saw in NSMBU, with Luigi, Peach, and the rest of the gang having dinner at the castle before they’re rudely interrupted. The only difference this time around is that Mario is noticeably absent with only his signature red cap left at the table.
In New Super Luigi U, the levels from NSMBU have been condensed dramatically, but it’s done in order for the new play style to work. What the game does differently is that it only gives you only a 100 seconds on the timer to clear a stage – a feat that, on paper, sounds more than feasible. However, in practice — especially for perfectionist players out there trying to grab three-star coins on every stage — it is much easier said than done. The only times you’re given more than 100 seconds is when your timer is topped off with an additional 100 seconds upon entering a boss door in a castle.
Gameplay-wise, Luigi does feel like a total departure from the predictable and reliable Mario. While the taller Luigi has a greater jumping ability, his footwork while on the ground is straight up goofy. He slips and slides all over the place and it makes for what would be par for the course platforming in previous titles, much more trivial here. It never feels cheap, it’s just…different. It’s certainly an adjustment, and one that you’ll be forced to make after you’ve wound up (like me) in what will seem like your 100th bottomless pit.
Making his return to New Super Luigi U is Nabbit, a character previously introduced in NSMBU. When playing the game alone, Nabbit will be scattered around the map jumping into stages that you’ve previously conquered. When you re-enter the stage it’s a race against time to capture Nabbit before he makes it to the flag pole. Once you catch him, Nabbit will relinquish what ever goodies he’s carrying and Luigi will boot him to another part of the map. Like in NSMBU, you can expect Nabbit to appear at least one time in each world you enter.
This time around, Nabbit is also a playable character, although I’m almost positive that purists will stay away from using Nabbit considering that his gameplay mechanics are similar to using a super -powered tanooki, rendering him invincible to pretty much all damage and killed only if he falls into a pit. He can also be used in a two player mode where he is especially useful if you’re playing the game with someone whose skills are lacking in the platforming department.
If there was one thing that should be noted about New Super Luigi U, is that, unlike NSMBU’s more accessible experience, this title is much harder to master. As a gamer who’s played Mario Bros. titles for decades (almost 30 here) this is, in my opinion, one the most challenging experiences in the series yet. At the same time, when you do finally master a stage (reaching all three-star coins) that has taken you countless attempts, the sense of accomplishment is immensely gratifying. When you’re figuring it out and reaching the most challenging of coins, the game gives you that “ah-ha” moment similar to what you’d get playing a puzzler like Portal 2. So for as many times as you fail, and you will a lot, you don’t mind getting back up for more.
All in all, the price to gameplay ratio found in Super Luigi U is definitely a standout. The DLC expansion will set you back $19.99 ($29.99 when it hits retail in August), but you’re talking about adding hours upon hours of gameplay here; around 80 levels in all. Players who have finished NSMBU and are looking to add to that experience owe it to themselves to give this one a shot as it’s incredibly challenging yet gratifying at the same time.