Nintendo returns to the 2D Mario formula once again, but Mario is nowhere to be seen. Instead, there’s this big pile of Luigi corpses, and the pile is growing fast.
New Super Luigi U: On the plus side
New Super Luigi U takes the world presented in New Super Mario Bros U and ramps up the difficulty, while giving Mario the flick entirely. It’s part of Nintendo’s year-long marketing effort to push Luigi by giving him his own game… sort of.
Because when I say it takes the world, that’s quite a literal statement. New Super Luigi U is best described as DLC for New Super Mario Bros U (and indeed, it’s available exactly that way), with the focus on Luigi and his differing physics, as well as a stricter time limit for each and every level. You’ve only got 100 seconds to finish each level, compared to the 300 seconds of the classic games, which means that nothing is casual any more, because the clock is always ticking.
It’s sort of like what would happen if Super Meat Boy ended up in Mario’s world, in that it’s properly hard in a way that Nintendo games haven’t been for a long while. Whereas with New Super Mario Bros U I ended up with a massive surfeit of lives, New Super Luigi U’s level design is exceptionally good at killing you, over and over again. I’ve been variously squashed, electrocuted, eaten and knocked to my death… when I wasn’t killed simply for running out of time. It makes me wonder if Bowser’s plan doesn’t somehow involve a massive pile of corpses. Maybe Luigi makes good mulch?
In short though, New Super Luigi U is frantic and hard fun. I happen to like frantic fun, so it suited me well through its playtime. Like New Super Mario Bros U, there’s the added challenge of getting all the star coins and secret exits, still against the clock, although that shorter duration does mean that they’re often more jumping-within-a-short-frame puzzles rather than really hidden in any meaningful way.
Multiplayer is supported, and it’s a curious case of inversion. Where New Super Mario Bros U suffered in multiplayer because you’d all too often tip each other into pits, New Super Luigi U offers the reverse experience, because it’s easier. For a start, there’s more of you onscreen, so getting through the levels is easier, but also, Mario is gone (you might say Mario Is Missing, but I wouldn’t), replaced by the invulnerable Nabbit for the fourth player.
New Super Luigi U: On the minus side
There are some problems with New Super Luigi U, though. The world is familiar, and the standard levels are re-designs with a wicked difficulty curve that becomes quite enticing. But Nintendo’s done nothing to change the boss fights, which are as easy as they’ve ever been. You’re even awarded extra time to finish them, and after making your way through a tough castle, having an easy boss seems like a cop-out, at least in part.
New Super Luigi U just loves the idea of you posting to Miiverse. Struggling with a level? Why not tell everyone about it? Made it through a level? Why not tell everyone about it? Finished a level in under 50 seconds? Why not tell… BECAUSE I’M SICK OF YOU NAGGING ME ABOUT MIIVERSE IS WHY!!!!
Puff.. pant. It’s OK. I’m better now. Miiverse is a fine idea and generally well implemented, but it doesn’t take much for a social feature to become a nagging feature. I tested with the DLC version of New Super Luigi U, but I doubt this is different for the disc code.
Then there’s the retail model. If you’ve already got New Super Mario Bros U, then it’s available cheaply as DLC, which seems like a nice step on Nintendo’s part. However, owing t the way that DLC works on the Wii U, it’s tied to that Wii U only. That’s a hardware level decision on Nintendo’s part, but it means if your Wii U expires, so too does the whole game. There’s no transfer process at all.
The alternative is to spend more on the disc-based version of New Super Luigi U. That gains you portability via disc install, but at a much higher price.
New Super Luigi U: Pricing
The DLC version of New Super Luigi U is $29.99, but you must have New Super Mario Bros U for it to work at all. The standalone disc version is around $58, and won’t actually be out in Australia for another week or so.
New Super Luigi U: Alex’s Verdict
I’ve previously said that New Super Mario Bros U is the best of the Super Mario games, and I stick by that; I think it’s still a slightly better experience overall than Super Luigi U on a standalone basis. Having said that, if you’ve played and enjoyed New Super Mario Bros U and you like a stiff challenge, there’s a lot to like here as well. Its issues are more to do with Nintendo’s own policies with regards to digital content, and the price is right for existing owners.