Ever since the Nintendo Switch came along there has been a deluge of games making their way from the Wii U - a console that never really took off for Nintendo - and arriving on the Switch for another bite of the apple with a new audience, often wrapped up in new packages. It always seemed like New Super Mario Bros. U would be among the games making just this move, providing some classic throwback 2D platforming as we've come to expect from the icon, and that's exactly what we have this month with New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe.
Truth be told, this is actually two games in one since New Super Luigi U has been thrown in there as well, a platformer that offers a similar experience but with a bit more challenge, since Luigi tends to slide about a bit more than his brother even though he can jump higher. All told this means the Deluxe package contains 164 levels, which for £42.99 means a lot of value for your money, especially since all of the levels in the classic mode can be replayed to get all the hidden extras and collectibles.
A lot of you probably won't have played the Wii U games because, as we've said, the Wii U wasn't all that popular in comparison to the beast that is the Switch, so let's treat this review as such. You don't need to have played the originals to know the premise though, as it's the same as it has been since the '80s. In both games' respective story modes, Bowser attacks Princess Peach's castle, kidnaps her, and we are then forced to battle through a number of levels in different lands in order to save her.
These levels are much as you'd expect, and if you're a regular Mario fan you might, in fact, be a little disappointed that a lot of this is reminiscent of content we've already seen throughout the years. That said, mixed in with the green hills, Koopas, and Goombas we have some more memorable levels like a swamp with a painted background reminiscent of Van Gogh's The Starry Night.
The level design across all games is fantastic, providing hidden passages, secrets, pipes, extras, and more for those who really want to discover everything hidden within. It'd be easy for an untrained eye to look at Mario and expect an easy, gentle ride, but what's hidden within these levels is incredibly challenging at times, requiring precise jumps and a lot of coordination to even beat them full stop, without even considering the speed-runs and completionists.
Part of the reason why this is such a good fit for the Switch is because it allows up to four players to jump in and enter the action, and while this doesn't make the game a whole lot easier, since you bounce off each other and jump on top of one another, it does make for a lot of chaotic fun. Even if you do accidentally (or intentionally) jump on your friend's head and send them into lava, these players can respawn by floating in on a bubble soon after. It's forgiving, and it makes for a remarkably different way to play.
Then there are the extra modes you can try as well, including Challenges. These require you to complete a number of tasks like Time Attacks, Coin Collection, 1-Up Rally, and more like dodging fireballs and gliding without touching the floor. Then there are the Boost Rushes, which are similar to Time Attacks but collecting coins gives you extra speed, as well as Coin Battles to see who can collect the most coins. These Challenges can be played with a Mii too, so there's plenty in there for those who finish the Story Mode and still want to keep going.
Speaking of playable characters, alongside the Mii, Mario, Luigi, and Toad, we also have Toadette - an Easy character who can transform into Peachette (basically Peach) with the help of a crown to float like Mario's raccoon suit and jump that bit higher - and Nabbit, a Very Easy character, since he can walk through enemies without taking damage. Like they did with Funky Kong in Tropical Freeze, Nintendo has softened the challenge for younger players, and it's a welcome addition that makes things all the more accessible.
The controls themselves are very straightforward, mixing between run and jump while also adding powers like fireballs, ice, and gliding in there, but the movement to us felt very floaty and imprecise (more so with Luigi, as is the point). In some of the later levels where accuracy in jumps was vital, we felt like it was just a little too sluggish and it got frustrating at times. It takes some getting used to, let's just say, although even the least experienced gamers among us can still get the job done - after all, Nintendo's built for all the family.
One of the most surprisingly pleasant elements of the games was actually the sound design. Of course, all the memorable tunes are in there, but it's so rich and diverse and the environments even react to the beat in some levels, with the Koopas kicking their legs and flowers pulsating with the music. It's the level of detail we've come to expect, and that extends to the visuals as well.
All in all the Nintendo seal of quality guarantees that you'll get a good game here and the fact you get two games in this one package is even better. There's a lot to see and do, some of which will offer a real challenge to lifelong Mario fans, and it's the most comprehensive way to play both titles with all the family. Games like this feel like they were built for the Switch and it's easy multiplayer too, so if you can bear to share the screen with three other friends you should do just that.