When the Nintendo Wii U launched in the fall of 2012, eager fans were anticipating the release of New Super Mario Bros. U as part of the console's release day lineup. Sure, some felt a bit of burnout due to an influx of New Super Mario Bros. releases in the handful years prior, but the appetite was still there for an original, 2D Mario title.
And it didn't disappoint. Not only did New Super Mario Bros. U represent one of the strongest titles in the series (which kicked off on the Nintendo DS in 2006), it became one of its most accessible entries. The game wasn't simply for longtime, hardcore fans and the speed-running community, but for younger folks itching to play their first real Mario game.
It only stands to reason, then, that the just-released New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, a port of the game and its New Super Luigi U expansion to the Nintendo Switch, creates an even stronger package -- if you haven't played it before.
When you first boot up the game, you're greeted by a menu that doesn't look dissimilar to the original release, though it is more in line with the mobile game Super Mario Run. These menus are also supported by the touch screen in undocked mode, which was surely deliberate in connecting those dots. From here, you have the option to pick a save slot, or enter the games' challenges mode, boost rush and coin battle, two unique game types you can play with your Mii (these were all included with the original release of New Super Mario Bros. U).
You'll also have the option to jump into New Super Luigi U, a standalone expansion of the original title that released back in 2013, the Year of Luigi. The levels here seemed smarter, harder and faster in a number of different ways, playing to the strengths of Luigi's differing attributes, like jump height. When your skills are honed by the main story and level sets in New Super Mario Bros. U, its definitely worth checking out this expansion. After all, these are some of the most well-crafted levels in 2D Mario history -- seriously.
When you first jump into the main title's story mode, you get a quick cutscene setting up the world for Mario and friends to venture through. Peach is being held hostage by Bowser and his gang of Koopalings, so its up to Mario, Luigi, some Toads and Toadette to run through eight worlds of platforming goodness to rescue her. It's a tried formula, but the addition of Toadette, whose Super Crown abilities add a whole new level of accessibility and fun to the game, make it work. As an additional bonus, you can now play as any of the characters in single player mode rather than being restricted to just Mario. Plus, there's Yoshi and Baby Yoshi. Yes, Baby Yoshi.
If you've played Mario titles before, you'll be able to discern the character attributes of Mario or Luigi. Mario's well-rounded and Luigi has a flutter jump, but Toadette's Super Crown form, known as Peachette, gives players a brand new boost mid-jump, not unlike the flying squirrel ability. With this in mind, players can roll aggressively into almost any level and, at the press of a button, save themselves from an ill-timed jump or fall.
With the addition of Toadette and Nabbit (a guided character introduced in New Super Luigi. U who is now playable in the main game), the franchise has never been more accessible to younger players. While this could easily feel like handholding, it actually freshens up the experience if you've played New Super Mario Bros. U or New Super Luigi U before, not unlike the addition of Funky Kong to Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.
Co-op has never been easier, with docked and tabletop modes on the Nintendo Switch making it easy to pick up and play with any number of control options, but besides the handful of new features, there's not too much else to analyze. While the two games in this package have been included together before, back on the Wii U, this is still a wonderful addition to the Nintendo Switch's library. When it comes down to it, these ported releases from the Wii U offer a whole new group of fans the opportunity to enjoy an amazing first-party library, even if some Switch owners just see it as release schedule padding.
Overall, its difficult not to recommend New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe if you're a Nintendo Switch owner. It's aged well, still looks and plays lovely (even if the Joy Con could use a D-Pad upgrade), and is the first true 2D Mario experience on the Switch. Well, aside from those stellar levels in Super Mario Odyssey.
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is now available for Nintendo Switch. A review code was provided by Nintendo.