New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe Review

Mario games have always captured my attention and imagination. There’s just something about the series that appeals to me like no other. I love everything from the colorful characters, enemies, and backgrounds to the smart, clever level design, and I recently discovered this holds true even of the very first Super Mario Bros. game. To this day, that game is a blast to play, and the same can be said of nearly every entry in the series.

Needless to say, I was excited to hear about New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe coming to the Nintendo Switch. If you’re unfamiliar with the Deluxe version of the game, it’s essentially a packaged bundle that includes New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U, both of which were originally released on the Wii U. They also added Nabbit and Toadette as playable characters in this version. And yes, this is the game with the Princess Crown power-up—when worn by Toadette, she turns into Peachette, and we all know the dozens of versions spawned from this concept (*cough* Bowsette is queen *cough*).

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe Is a Platforming Delight

The New Super Mario Bros. series is a reimagining of the classic 2D side-scrolling Mario games we’ve come to know and love. The first in the series was released on the Nintendo DS, shortly followed up with a sequel on the Wii. I remember having a lot of fun with New Super Mario Bros. Wii—I spent a few late nights playing with my friends as we struggled to complete the final levels, more often losing due to each other’s sabotage than to the actual enemies.

That’s the heart of the fun in this series: playing with your friends. Yes, it’s amazing to see a Mario 2D side-scroller with 3D graphics, and yes, it’s incredible to play through the game’s platforming challenges, but the multiplayer is pure Nintendo fun. It’s accessible and easy to pick up and play, regardless of your skill level. On the Switch, you can play with the individual Joy-Cons, a Pro Controller, or in handheld mode—whichever suits your playing preference—and it all feels right. You push forward, hit one button to run/jump, and that’s it.

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
Princess Peach in her castle, waiting for Mario to save her!

This series also introduced some new concepts, like picking up and throwing other players (which explains the trouble we had completing New Super Mario Bros. Wii…), twirling (accomplished by hitting a trigger button—vital to many custom stages in Super Mario Maker, which desperately needs a Switch port), and new power-ups, like the acorn. All in all, the controls remain rather simple, easy, and fun to use.

With such simplistic and polished controls, the developers were really able to focus their creativity on the level design. On first playthrough, the difficulty of each level is easy-to-medium. You shouldn’t have trouble at least completing the level in a few tries. But if you’re looking to collect the three Star Coins hidden within every level, then you’re facing some serious challenge.

Some Star Coins are right out in the open and require precise jumping and running to grab, while others are hidden behind secret walls or hard-to-reach areas accessible only with a certain power-up. This ramps up the difficulty—and the fun factor, if you love collecting things, like the Moons in Super Mario Odyssey—and adds a layer of replayability.

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe screengrab
Bowser in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe!

Since the game itself is rather short (between 10–15 hours), I had no issue going back through every level to find all the Star Coins. Each “world” also contains at least one secret exit, which can open up world skips or new playable levels. I love this concept, as it encourages the explorer in the player, which you typically don’t see in platformers. I enjoyed searching for these secrets and collecting every Star Coin, and if you’re a completionist, you’ll be glad to know you can unlock an entire secret world for collecting the star coins in each level.

This secret world, named Superstar Road, does not mess around. Two levels, in particular, cost me dozens of lives: Run for It and Pendulum Castle. Just thinking about those levels sends a chill down my spine. But I loved that the game, while not incredibly difficult, still aimed to deliver a challenge to the players who couldn’t get enough and wanted more.

And speaking of wanting more…it’s Weegee time!

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe Luigi
New Super Luigi U!!!

Let’s Talk About New Super Luigi U

Do you remember the Year of Luigi? I do, and I remember it fondly, even if it wasn’t one of the best years for Nintendo financially…The year was 2013, and it was the 30th anniversary of Luigi being around. The younger, less popular, but almost more lovable brother, who had only starred in a few games of his own, finally got the spotlight, and it was magnificent.

Nintendo really wanted to show Luigi some love, so they developed a game called New Super Luigi U. Because the Wii U, and thus the games on the Wii U, didn’t move as many units, I’ve found there’s a lot of confusion around New Super Luigi U. Some people think it’s DLC, some think it’s a separate game, and the truth is IT’S BOTH.

New Super Luigi U has the same world map as New Super Mario Bros. U, except all the levels are completely different, and Mario is not a playable character. Yes, you read that right, each level was specifically designed to be played with Luigi—his movement is a bit slidier than Mario’s and he can jump higher and hang longer in the air. I might be the only one, but I think that is really cool.

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe screenshot
A hidden, secret Luigi.

In addition to the unique level designs, each stage is timed at 100 seconds, which is much shorter than usual. This adds a sense of urgency to the levels and definitely increases the difficulty. The Star Coins are also much harder to grab in New Super Luigi U, so you have to be more precise in your controls, which is counteracted by Luigi’s less precise movements. In other words, while your time playing may be shorter, completing this game at 100 percent isn’t for the faint of heart.

Finally, my favorite aspect about New Super Luigi U is the hidden Luigis. Every level in the game contains one secret Luigi, and while not required for game completion, it’s a fun little challenge to discover where they’re hiding. Some are right out in the open, but others are hidden in the bricks or behind secret walls. Super Mario 3D World also had hidden Luigis sprinkled throughout the game.

As a huge fan of both Mario and Luigi, I can safely say New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a great port for the Nintendo Switch. While there’s been some criticism about the $60 price tag, it doesn’t bother me, because I personally had so much fun with the game. If you’re looking for a fun platformer you can play with friends, you can’t go wrong with this title. You’ll be humming the music, smiling at the gorgeous graphics, and chucking your friends into pits in no time.

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