New Super Luigi U
During the “Year of Luigi” marketing campaign by Nintendo, Mario’s brother became the protagonist in a number of Luigi-inspired games.
These games were far from being simple palette swaps however, as the long-neglected plumber got some serious attention. One of those games is an expansion on New Super Mario Bros. U titled New Super Luigi U.
At first glance, you’d dismiss this as being a swap. The game is near identical in audiovisual presentation and mechanics as its source material. The genius of Nintendo shines once again, as NSLU plays like a speed run alternate to NSMBU.
While the story is identical, sans Mario being included, and all of the same power-ups exist in NSLU. However, each level is considerably shortened, with paths cut, enemies placed in other areas, and 100 seconds to complete each stage.
This creates a fast-paced, frantic version of the Super Mario Bros. formula, much like those YouTube videos we’ve all seen and tried – or the Super Mario Maker created speed run levels. This time though, the game play is forced instead of done for fun, and it’s a clever gimmick that I feel Nintendo must revisit again in the future when the opportunity presents itself.
Four-player multiplayer still exists, as does the select screen with four characters: Luigi, two different colored Toads, and Nabbit, who was previously an NPC you had to race to catch in the original version of the game. (Nabbit cannot be hurt, but balances out by not being able to use power-ups.)
I imagine this is what the original Super Mario Bros. 2 (i.e. “Lost Levels”) could’ve been like. (Rather than the incredibly stupid difficult game that skipped the United States.) While Super Luigi U ramped up the difficulty over Mario U, it did so in such a way that it’s not cheap and is beatable.
The end result is a really fun game that presents a challenge but is far from impossible to conquer.
I would recommend playing this even over the source material. The game was so solid, it even received a physical release and was eventually packaged together with NSMBU too.
It’s a hidden gem from the short-lived Wii U that deserves its time in the spotlight, especially if you’re a Mario fan.
Super Mario 3D World
I have so many reactions to this game that I’m not sure where to begin. Let’s start with this: I’m stoked that Nintendo finally re-released Super Mario 3D World for the Nintendo Switch.
Because it was easily the Wii U’s best kept secret.
Darn near the entire world witnessed Super Mario Odyssey rise to greatness, hailed as the best Mario game ever created. However, anyone that SM3W had to be skeptical, as I was, that any game could top the Wii U’s offering.
Among many of the great games offered for the Wii U, SM3W encapsulates everything the Mario universe ever threw onto a screen. In fact, many of the ideas we saw in Odyssey were actually introduced in SM3W… or in its predecessor on the 3DS, Super Mario 3D Land!
Regardless, 3D World is a tremendous Mario title and if not for Odyssey going so far above and beyond, would hold my personal acclaim as the greatest Mario game of all time.
Somehow, SM3W captures the spirit of the 2D NES Mario titles better than Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, or Super Mario Galaxy ever did.
3D Land was described by game designer Shigeru Miyamoto as a “3D Mario that plays as a 2D Mario game”. 3D World tops it by a country mile.
The game begins with introduction of clear pipes, one of the critical elements added to SM3W. The plot is different from other Mario games, where Bowser captures Sprixies, and you travel to the Sprixie Kingdom to rescue them over the span several worlds – some which have to be unlocked.
Levels are open, yet linear. Mario can move in three dimensions a la Mario 64, but levels play out like the original Super Mario Bros., complete with a flag pole at the end of each.
Traditional powerups, such as super mushrooms, fire flowers, and the starman return, as well as the Tanooki suit, which was featured first in Super Mario Bros. 3, but included in 3D Land – as well as the Boomerang suit which was introduced in the latter.
Other inclusions are propeller, cannon, and coin blocks, all worn as “helmets” with various powers, plus the Mega Mushroom from New Super Mario Bros., which creates a Godzilla-sized character on-screen that can smash through most of level.
The big tease, and major addition other than the clear pipes, is the cat suit. Once equipped, Mario and the gang run around on all fours and gain the able to charge at enemies and climb walls for a short period of time. A variation exists later in the game which also mimics the “statue” power from SMB3’s Tanooki suit too.
Another added feature is the Double Cherry powerup, which creates an on-screen clone of Mario that moves, jumps and reacts simultaneously with the others on-screen. It’s possible to get as many as five Mario’s going at the same time, which are then used to unlock otherwise inaccessible areas or help topple foes more quickly.
Honestly, the fan service here is second-to-none. Save screens bring back 8-bit NES Mario running on the screen as a timer, and you can also shrink smaller, near-death, rather than worry about hearts or coins for health, just like the original.
Super Mario 2 is on display as you can choose one of several characters to play with, all retaining similar traits from that game. Luigi jumps higher, Toad runs faster, and Princess Peach can float temporarily in mid-air. Since four player multiplayer is also part of the regular campaign, each can be represented at the same time as players dash with one another to complete each level.
Slot machine style bonus levels also harken back to the day of SMB2 also.
Super Mario 3 was mentioned earlier with the Tanooki suit, but Bowser’s armada and mid-level boss Boomer make cameos as well.
Super Mario World contributes Ghost Houses and Kamek. The “New” series the aforementioned Mega Mushroom as well as some of the jumps and moves that have become commonplace with the strictly 3D games too.
Heck, even Super Mario Galaxy is represented with Lumas (star-shaped creatures) and Rosalina.
Gaining 100 coins will net you an extra life still, finding three green stars is critical to unlocking later levels, and the red coin loop, to collect 8 red coins, carries over from the Yoshi’s Island games. (Though it was also adopted in other titles too.)
There’s still even more as SM3W introduced the Toad Treasure Tracker minigames, midlevel “bosses” and toad houses appear on the map much like the moving Hammer Bros. did in SMB3. Bonus worlds and other surprises await as well.
It’s quite a mouthful attempting to tell anyone about how deep this game is and how much tribute it gives to every other Mario game created.
It’s challenging just to collect all of the stars in each level, but there’s also harder-to-find stamps for a “stamp collection” embedded within each level too, special mystery challenge houses, and overall, just when you think you’ve done it all, the game keeps going… and going… (Just wait, the SMB2 rocket ship also makes an appearance!)
The levels are of such a mixed variety too, with speed runs, water levels, locked overhead perspective levels, the aforementioned multiple-Mario (cherry power-up) levels, auto-scrolling levels… the list goes on and on. (My only true complaint are the few times the Wii U gamepad is required for touch controls or to blow into the mic – an unnecessary gimmick.)
My last note is that this game seems to feel different too because it went away from the “save the princess” and “beat Bowser’s kids” theme prevalent in the previous. SM3W offers just about everything a Mario fan could want and more.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of playing this, I highly encourage you to find a copy – I even hear the Switch version adds more to the original Wii U game too! It’s really that good and definitely worth owning in your library.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
I’ve never disliked a sequel so badly in my life. For everything the GameCube’s launch title Luigi’s Mansion was, the 3DS follow-up wasn’t.
I’ll retract on that a bit, but not much. The game begins with all of the same setup, charms, and quirks you’ve come to expect from the original game including the Poltergust 5000, Professor E. Gadd, Toad, and more.
In fact, the controls are simplified for the handheld, and much more refined in this way than the original title.
Rather than explore several floors of a single mansion, the game is split into five different worlds, each with missions. This is different than the original game in every way, and oftentimes frustrating, as dying within a given mission means you have to restart over.
The difficulty of some areas is what sucks the fun out of the game. Among my bugaboos are some stupidly difficult bosses early on, including an area with several sister ghosts that can pretty much kill you at will – restarting the mission makes it even more of a chore to continue going back and redoing mundane tasks, which don’t always lend themselves to being obvious as to what to do next.
You’ll waste plenty of time trying to squint to see details on-screen in figuring out what needs done, with some areas seeing you solve the puzzle and still somehow be unaware if you did or not! (This is clearly an issue with an area where you melt the ice off of an elevator, and it still doesn’t work unless you know to sweep up the extra snow alongside it too!)
After solving a puzzle, you’re finally ready to progress through a level before being sharply interrupted by Professor Gad on the “Dual Scream” device (similar to the GameBoy communication device in the original). The long screens of dialog interrupt the game, sucking even more fun out of it.
The same can be said for cutscenes, which occur all over the place and are included, in my opinion, to mask the shortness of some of the game’s levels.
In all, I finally got too frustrated wasting my time with this game. Even if you love the original, it may be a tad of a chore (and bore) to play through. I got about 2/3 through before packing it up after a shooting gimmick boss level.
Not to be outdone, the game features an area with three staircases that legitimately took nearly an hour to complete as you guess which of the three options to take on what feels like 20-some floors of steps.
It’s moves like these that makes me wonder how this game got through Nintendo’s approval process, as I can’t imagine younger gamers wasting the time to go through this headache over and over.
In all the game gets a thumbs-in-the-middle from me. There’s enough here to like, but not enough to make me want to come back and ever play it again… a shame considering how beloved the original is.
Were you a fan of the DuckTales cartoon growing up? Were you a fan of the original DuckTales video game on the NES growing up?
If you answered yes to either (or both) of these questions, or have any such affection toward Disney properties, I urge you to seek out this game!
Published on several systems by Capcom, I gave this classic reboot a spin on Sony’s PlayStation 3 and wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I was practically floored at how faithful it was to the original while bringing that game into the present day with HD graphics, audio voiceovers, and some slick retooling of a few stages (and bosses) that felt exactly like the original game even when it isn’t!
The only thing that might get on your nerves with this game is that it’s short while also being monotonous. The boring parts come with long stretches of animated cutscenes, that while entertaining, could wear you thin. (You can, however, skip them if you like.)
Yet, there’s replay value to this title as well, with a vault full of goodies showcasing items from the games and TV show. Heck, you can even take a dip in, and swim in Scrooge’s vault too! (Which is novel for about the first time only, but still, a cool touch.)
Retro gaming fans shouldn’t dismiss the era of reboots with this game. It’s worth picking up and playing, especially if you were a fan of the game or cartoon.