Younger bro outshines big bro.
Originally written 10-3-13
Bowser aka King Koopa is at it again. He invades Princess Peach's castle and knocks Luigi along with two Toad servants out of the place across the land, thus holding Peach prisoner in her own home. Luigi and co. must make their way across the Mushroom Kingdom to once again save Peach. -summary
The New Super Mario Bros. series for me has been a disappointment, and because of this I no longer consider Super Mario the gold standard when it comes down to a top notch gaming experience. I feel Nintendo held back some with the first game, the second was very good to me although flawed in a few areas. The third game was just lazy and completely uninspired; it blew my mind on just how far Nintendo's standards had dropped with them forcing to fall back on a coin collecting gimmick. The 4th title, New Super Mario Bros. U did nothing to renew my faith, so I really wasn't looking forward to the year of Luigi where Mario's younger brother would get two more chances at the solo spotlight. Despite this, I still had no intention on skipping Luigi's outings though.
After playing and finishing New Super Luigi U.... Well, I learned two things; one thing is for sure Nintendo appears to have a great understanding on what DLC should be. This project is quite amazing because it's definitely a worthy expansion and it does what DLC should do, and that's provide fans with more unique content to an already existing title. The second thing is, Nintendo still has enough in the creative well to challenge hardcore gamers with some of the grittiest, nail biting plat forming to touch gaming. The question I have though is; why do they prefer to hold back? Did they believe had this game been released to the mainstream with Super Mario front stage it wouldn't have done well? This really doesn't make any sense, since two out of the three original games were pretty unforgiving and fans have stuck with them for the better part of 25 years. On top of this, Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii is among the hardest games of the seventh generation in gaming, and that game has been highly praised plus it sold very well. I just don't get it.
Now with all that said, I'm sure everyone has put together that New Super Luigi U is a tough game. This game can be very hard, and I kind of think this is Nintendo's message to folks like myself to stop our bitchin' before they decide to release an 8 - 12 hour monster, that's going to chew our asses up and spit out the pieces it doesn't like. I enjoyed this a lot more than the game that spawned it.
New Super Luigi U is a multi-player and single player plat-former that recycles the New Super Mario Bros. U formula in a very interesting way. Now let's be clear here, this is not a sequel, I will even go so far to say that it isn't a brand new game, because outside of certain changes there are key areas keeping it from truly feeling like its own game. Nintendo grabbed the 80+ stages out of NSMBU and just re-imagined all of them in some of the most creative yet twisted ways.
The game features the same power ups along with the Acorn and Super Acorn from Mario's version; these will turn Luigi into a flying squirrel that will have him sticking to walls, leaping for extra distance, and gliding. The Propeller and Penguin suits return from the Wii version and they do spice things up, despite the latter being quite underutilized. There are plenty of other things that are the same though, while some things are just different.
The first stage when using Luigi will quickly alert the player that there's something strange going on here. The stages are now clocked in at 100 seconds giving you very little time to complete the areas. Luigi himself heavily resembles his Super Mario Bros. 2 playing style, in that he now has a very floaty jump that is similar to Yoshi's except better, and he slides quite a bit now. The stages are also shorter with the three Star Coins per stage almost always in plain site, but hardly ever easy to grab. The stages are very well designed, I'll even say these are the best and most creative stages in this series.
Along with the shortened time, Luigi's play style, maniacal stage design, and very clever enemy placement, it's easy to say that this game is tough as nails. This is not for the casual or weak gamer; Nintendo is expecting the player to be an expert from the jump off. There is very little time to get accustomed to this style. I died in the second stage twice before I realized that patience was my friend, and although the clock is hot on your heels; you still have plenty of time to either rush through the area and come back for the Star coins, or think of a quick strategy to grab them right there. Most of the stages I had to come back to for the coins, because at first glance grabbing them seemed impossible. Despite all of these obstacles though, I never died by the timer. I simply had to be patient and get my skill up. The game will no doubt push you, and you better damn near become a ninja pretty quick, because the late stages will put the beats on you.
I can't stress the stages enough. Nintendo were down right sinister, and I can imagine some people seeing the game over screen before they make it to the third world. Had the final two to three worlds in New Super Mario Bros. U been something like this, just a small difficulty spike; it would have no doubt been a much better game. One castle forces Luigi to spin on a device that closes the walls in, and timing has to be near perfect to scale these walls without being crushed. There are also areas with multiple fire breathing piranha plants, enemies hurling objects, and Lakitu is finally a pain in the ass again hurling objects at you as if he's making up for lost time. Another stage that stands out to me, it's quite early in the game though, you can outfit Luigi in the Penguin suit and the stage is very quick paced as it follows him sliding on his belly like a snow sled, and just burning through this stage making the tightest jumps. There are plenty of skin crawling, palm sweaty, wire tight skirmishes with death in this game, that I just can't imagine the hardcore plat-forming crew not enjoying themselves.
One complaint that I have voiced through out this entire series is how ultra forgiving it has been with the 1-Ups. I finished the previous games with my lives well into the 90's. I never felt threatened by that game over screen; by the first couple of stages in this game, I was pretty damn worried. Now, I still haven't seen the game over screen here, but I never made it too far pass 50 lives either, and this includes using the Star Man and entering one of the ice stages, and spamming all of the penguins for a flurry of 1-ups. Every time I saw myself on what I thought to be low with lives, and had at least one Star Man, I was back at that stage again. The difficulty here makes coin collecting very important.
Unfortunately the boss battles with the Koopalings are untouched. This is still one of the lows and even more so this time. The Koopalings and sub bosses were programmed for Mario's style of play and not Luigi's floaty jump. Due to this you can actually dominate some of these battles. Another glaring flaw in this game is Nintendo playing it safe yet again. If you're having a hard time with a stage, or even right off the bat; you can use the character Nabbit whom made his first appearance in Mario's version. This character can be selected by standing on any stage and holding the ZL button down. He is completely immune to enemies and can only die by falling off cliffs. He was clearly meant for weaker players. I tried him out on one previously beaten stage and I honestly had no fun. He's completely invincible and to make up for it he can't pick up power-ups. Now does that sound like fun to you? I get that Nintendo wants everyone to enjoy this game, but the fun shouldn't be sacrificed by drastic game play elements like this. Nintendo is forcing you to play the game either really hard or really easy with no middle ground. They should have just kept the game at Luigi's pace and forced people to get better.
If you never got into the multi-player before, then you're going to feel it even less now. The quick timer and difficult stages creates unreal chaos. 4 people were not meant to play this game simultaneously. The only reason I tolerated a second player is because she's really good. Other than I can't get into this.
The low timer in this game can be a problem for some people in determining length. I think it's possible to beat this game in about 3 hours with a speed run. I'm sure someone can do it faster; but my point is that the game is really short, and since a lot of the Star Coins are in plain site it takes away that sense of exploration. It wasn't a problem for me, but I know people who don't enjoy the game due to this.
Luigi's mechanics may feel broken to the impatient but that is not the case. The floaty jump and slipping just takes practice and getting use to. The first few stages aggravated me at first because this style is that different. Other than that, I can say the controls are flawless and great for a quick paced plat-former like this; and I'm talking about the Gamepad, Wii Remote, and Propad.
These are the areas that rob this game of its individuality. New Super Luigi U's game play style set the foundation towards developing a very unique personality. Unfortunately, the re-used World Map, which still looks stunning reminds you this is only an expansion. The worlds are still unique and have their own themes to them. The Ice world still appears to be a slippery good time, and Peach's Castle looks like Hell's Kitchen. There are plenty of recycled characters, but I think the boxing ghost is a new addition here. I don't remember seeing it in the last game. I could be wrong though.
The backgrounds are still nice and very well colored. There's a lively feel when running around through the jungles and meadows, and this claustrophobic feel when underground. It's the same feel as Mario's version. This also carries over to the same music and voice overs. Although it all blends well with the game's personality, it's way pass time for something brand new. There's just nothing really new to talk about here.
I have to give it up to Nintendo and admit that they nailed the DLC pretty well. I'm still unsure if I can justify them even asking for 30 bucks retail. It should have been 20 at the most retail. We're not getting a brand new game or even a taste of them re-inventing the wheel. They just revamped their courses and upped the difficulty. Despite my bit of fun here, I kind of don't think it takes much to do that. If you were unimpressed with the previous game being so damn easy, then I highly encourage to give this a try. If you enjoyed the last game, then of course give this a play. However, if you hate hard games, then maybe this isn't for you.
Pros: Very well done high difficulty, amazing stage design
Cons: Nintendo plays it safe again, loads of recycling