Five players? In case you haven’t heard, the fifth player in New Super Mario Bros. U gets to hold the Wii U controller and screw with the other players. They don’t control a character at all, but instead can create blocks by tapping in various locations to either help or hinder their peers. It’s also possible to tap on enemies to stun them, which is nice. More or less it’s a girlfriend mode (or perhaps a child mode depending on your personal situation), and it’s a welcomed addition even if it’s not all that impacting.
It’s just really freaking pretty.
The rest of the gameplay is what the doctor ordered. It feels just like all the rest of the games in the New SMB series, right down to the much-maligned pause whenever someone collects a power-up or dies.
But ohhh, is the game ever gorgeous. It’s stunningly pretty in HD, the sort of pretty that makes you wonder what sort of God would have ever allowed so many previous Mario games over the past generation in sub-720p resolutions. The colors seriously pop, with a sort of boldly-bordered style that really works well within the cartoony Mario universe. The backgrounds are detailed and just plain awesome looking. The game is a real looker.
Admit it, you already want to play it again.
But most of what you’ll be doing is paying attention to the action, because it also promises to bring all the same challenge of the Wii installment. There were three different levels on display at the show—truly, not a whole lot of content—but all of them were lots of fun. The first was a traditional forest level with mostly normal platforming elements that most players were able to handle without too much trouble. The next was a mushroom lifty, piranha planty mountain area that was slightly more challenging but still nothing remarkably hard. And the third was the most challenging: a nighttime level exploding with starry skies and rotating giant stars for lifts. It wasn’t the sort of thing to make Mario veterans sweat, but it wasn’t necessarily a walk in the park, either.
I played all three levels and really enjoyed my time with the game. It’s a great launch title for the system (er, “launch window”) and, despite the undeniable Mario saturation present in this year’s Nintendo lineup, I’m genuinely excited to get my hands on it. In fact, I was pretty disappointed to hear that this was all that was being shown of it!
This was the third level on showcase at E3 2012.