New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe review: a 2D treat that flourishes with friends

Mario and co. are back in the side-scrolling habit, as New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe hits the Switch…

When New Super Mario Bros. U was unleashed on the Wii U back in 2012, it was met with a warm response and became one of the best-selling titles on the short-lived console. Six years later, it’s been ported over to the already-more-popular Nintendo Switch, with a couple of new additions. But does the game still hold up?

Short answer: yes, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is every bit as playable as its predecessor. And, as an added bonus, the rejigged game now comes with New Super Luigi U bundled in as standard, meaning that you get 164 levels for your money.

This vast array of levels showcases a great deal of imagination on the part of director Masataka Takemoto and his team of designers. There is a nice amount of variety between the stages, with the snowy segment of the map looking particularly impressive. Other bits don’t shine as brightly, and the first few boss fights are very repetitive, but the fun factor never lets up and you’re rarely stuck in one place for long. There are some terrific twists on expectations, too – levels that aren’t fully illuminated, doors that lead nowhere, coin trails that shepherd you towards death – that will keep you very much on your toes.

Also, the difficulty is pitched at winningly varied levels: if you want to test yourself, New Super Luigi U (which is playable at any point from the main menu) offers challenging remixes of the main game’s levels that will properly stretch your dexterity; but if you want an easy ride, or a suitable game for kids to play, the addition of Toadette and Nabbit to the main game’s playable roster (one of the upgrades this Deluxe port has brought) means that basically anyone can pick this up and have a good time. Nabbit in particular, who’s impervious to attacks, feels like a deliberate attempt to keep very young players engaged.

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And if you do have a young gamer you’d like to introduce to the 2D side-scrolling world, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe has plenty to offer: you can switch into co-operative multiplayer mode at any point during the main story, or pop over to the main menu to compete in the ‘Play with Mii’ mode that spans time trials, coin battles and other quirky challenges. It’s when you play with other people that this title really comes into its own: whether you’re working together or battling against one another, the game’s easy-to-learn nature means that anyone can have a go and hold their own.

It must also be said, since the Switch is more properly portable than the Wii U was, that there is a certain thrill to be found in playing this home-console-worthy Super Mario Bros instalment on the go. Racing to finish a level before you arrive at work makes the commute fly by, for instance, and the graphics look just as sharp in portable mode as they do on the telly. (At some points, you could even argue that they look better shrunk down.)

Despite all the easy-going entertainment on offer, however, there is a sense that perhaps this game doesn’t quite earn the Deluxe tag that’s been added to its title. The going rate for this game is £43, which will surely seem steep to anyone that already owns the Wii U version (especially considering that Rayman Legends and the recent Spyro and Crash Bandicoot remasters can generally be found for less than thirty quid). Does the addition of Nabbit, Toadette (who can transform into the meme machine Peachette with the help of a super crown), portability, a flying squirrel power-up and New Super Luigi U really make this a full-price offering that’s a properly Deluxe experience?

That’ll be a matter of personal opinion, which is likely to differ depending on whether you already played this on Wii U, but there’s no denying that this is a terrific 2D treat with plentiful replayability and some excellent multiplayer options. Deluxe may be a stretch, but this is still a delight.  

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is out now.


4 out of 5