On November 18, 2012, the Wii U stumbled into the market with poor advertising, few original games and two different bundles. The base model included an underwhelming 8GB of hard drive space with no game, and the other included a decent-sized hard drive (32GB) that was bundled with Nintendo Land, a mostly fun party game that was designed to showcase the unique features of the Wii U GamePad. The GamePad is a tablet-like controller with an 6.2 inch touch screen that, when paired with the HD TV in your home, mimics the popular dual screen mechanics of the ever successful Nintendo DS and 3DS handheld devices.
There were few unique titles released for the Wii U at launch, most of them being remakes of games that had already been successfully released on the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. Consumers found it difficult to justify shelling out sixty bucks a second time just to experience slightly better HD graphics and the new Wii U GamePad controller. Still, there was one launch title that deserved some attention.
New Super Mario Bros. U is a vibrant and dynamic entry into the beloved series, but it is also one of the most difficult. What appears to be a fun and colorful gaming experience for kids quickly turns into a complex game designed for the hardcore gamer. Released at the same time the console was launched, many parents probably thought the game’s title characters, cartoon style, and the return of Yoshi would make it the perfect entry level game for their kids. Unfortunately, they couldn’t be more wrong.
New Super Mario Bros. U is not like the nostalgic Mario games of the past, which were easy to learn, difficult to master, but not impossible for a kid to complete. In contrast, New SMB U is absolutely ruthless, especially if you are a gamer who sets out to complete every game played. The difficulty ramps up quickly and it never lets up. Clearly, Nintendo intended the game’s extreme difficulty to inspire others to join in and assist with the gameplay. New SMB U can be played with up to four players at once with a fifth using the Wii U GamePad to draw temporary platforms in the sky to assist with some of the harder-to-reach spots.
If you thought this game was difficult with just a single player, then you are in for a real treat if you play a multiplayer game. Trying to play New SMB U with more than one character on screen is like telling Siamese twins to run in different directions. Although the game creates plenty of frustrating moments, it also offers its fair share of comedic amusement. The cooperative play was meant for a party experience, where everyone is laughing and having a good time, but not seriously trying to get anything done.
The only time this game feels easy is when there is a single player on screen while another gamer draws temporary platforms in the air, which feels like cheating, but also necessary to complete some of the tasks you are given. If you are able to draw with your feet or if you have a prehensile tail, then you might be able to find a way to play the game and draw the platforms yourself. Hats off to you, if you can do this. Still, if you intend to beat this game, acquire all of the star coins, find all of the secret pathways and kill Bowser, then good luck.
Perhaps you might be thinking, it really can’t be that hard. Yes, it is. Sure, it’s not as difficult as Dark Souls or Dark Souls II, but this is a side-scrolling platformer that hoped to bring in a new generation of Mario fans. Just take a look at the Mii Verse comments and you will see. The game is not easy.
New Super Mario Bros. U is a great game. It is one of the best in the series, but playing it is a masochistic experience that is unmatched by any Mario game before it. And this is the point. New Super Mario Bros. U is so difficult and frustrating that many people stopped playing the game. It was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Although the game is full of color and fun, it’s intensity turns the experience into an infuriating nightmare.
As of March 31, 2014, Nintendo has sold more than 4 million copies. Having such a difficult game as the main selling point so early in the console’s life cycle was a mistake. With few other titles to choose from, a lot of players simply left their GamePads on their charging cradles, and for the first year of the Wii U, let their consoles collect dust. A year later, Nintendo would release the critically acclaimed Super Mario 3D World, but for many, it was too late.