Review: New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe isn’t “new,” but it’s still fun
by on March 4, 2019

The Mario series has expanded into multiple directions since the NES era. Games like Super Mario Odyssey and Super Mario 64 gave us an open world 3D experience, and RPGs such as Paper Mario are filled with witty dialog. But Nintendo always remembers what made Mario the plumber we love today: platformers.

Full Disclosure
Nintendo of America graciously provided a review copy for the Switch.

I both love and hate platformers. They’re often silly and whimsical with a catchy soundtrack, and, while the cartoony designs make platformers look pretty simple, they can be incredibly frustrating. But that frustration is part of the fun! It wouldn’t be as satisfying of an experience if you could just casually fly through every level on the first try. I’ve always found that succeeding after cursing at the game and rage quitting once or twice grants a greater sense of accomplishment. The challenge is what keeps things exciting. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is reminiscent of classic Mario platformers such as Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros. 3. The game delivers beautiful graphics while maintaining the fun yet aggravating experience of traditional platformers.

I’ve always found that succeeding after cursing at the game and rage quitting once or twice grants a greater sense of accomplishment.

Like most platformers, the key to New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is finding the right rhythm and patience. Now the rhythm aspect I’ve got — I’ve had enough musical training over the years that it’s no problem. Patience, however, is not my strong suit. Areas that involved slowing down, waiting for a moving platform, or for spikes to go back up resulted in many deaths and the occasional thrown Joy-Con.

I was so excited to see the return of the Koopalings. Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of my all time favorite games, so I always appreciate a nice throwback to it. And with today’s graphics, it’s cool seeing what they “actually” look like, as opposed to than their original eight-bit renderings. As a huge Yoshi fan, his return was a nice treat. I found myself getting just as excited hatching a Yoshi egg today as I did when I first played Super Mario World.

The game plays like your typical Mario platformer. I did find the controls to be a bit tricky when utilizing the Super Acorn and P-Acorn powerups, but that may just be because I’m more accustomed to the flying mechanic from Mario 3. I also found the Ice Flower powerup to be a little difficult to aim, and also inconsistent when it came to throwing frozen enemies. I do like the return of the Mario 64 wall jump. It makes for some fun maneuvering that also looks pretty impressive.

I was a bit disappointed in the selection of items and power-ups. Sure, the Penguin Suit was kind of cute, but otherwise they just didn’t stand out that much to me, especially when you compare them to the powerful, fireproof Hammer Bros. Suit and adorable yet functional Tanooki Suit from Mario 3. I did enjoy the Super Crown for Toadette (because that’s the reason the world was introduced to Bowsette), but, while adorable, all it does is turn Toadette into Peach. We’ve had Peach as a playable character plenty of times so this is really nothing new. Since it’s an item exclusive to Toadette, this only makes being able to play as someone else the biggest incentive to playing as Toadette. She’s a great character, but she ends up getting shoved to the side once the crown goes on. I’d rather see her become her own princess with a unique ability. Maybe Princess Toadette could throw mushrooms to knock out enemies. She’s a great character, and I’d love to see her have a bigger chance to shine.

Peachette may have taken the kingdom by storm, but she doesn’t add much to the game.

Lack of originality and creativity are my biggest complaints. While I do love the callbacks to previous titles, it still feels like every Mario platformer from Super Mario World and onward. I realize this is Mario  The game’s best qualities have to do with bits from previous titles. It’s not a bad game by any means, I just can’t think of anything about it that would put it on the top of my list of Mario games.

While nostalgia goggles will give many players a more personal connection to the game, it’s still enjoyable. Collecting Star Coins, finding hidden locations, using powerups, and playing as different characters can alter the difficulty level either direction, which is something I love about Mario games. Over the years I would create my own challenges, such as finish with 100+ lives or not using powerups from the item box, and the same concept can be applied here.

Collecting Star Coins, finding hidden locations, using powerups, and playing as different characters can alter the difficulty level either direction

If this was someone’s first introduction to the Mario series, particularly those in the 12 and under crowd, I think they would have a blast. Visually the game is fantastic and the vivid colors show off the Nintendo Switch’s capabilities. For more seasoned Mario fans, the experience could go either way. On one hand the familiarity can be nice and even comforting. It follows a formula that has worked for decades. But for someone looking for a new Mario experience, they would be disappointed, despite the fact that “New” is in the game’s title. I never played the Wii U version of this game, and it still felt like I had played it before.

I would love to play this with someone who never played the earlier Mario games. Seeing them fight the Koopalings, find hidden areas, and successfully make one of those tricky jumps for the first time would be magical. Especially considering how beautiful the graphics are.

Is this a game that I would go out and buy immediately? No, but it’s certainly worth playing. Since it doesn’t have any characteristics to really set it apart from the other Mario platformers, it’s one I would likely overlook. That being said, if I happened upon a copy that was on sale, I’d happily buy it and have a great time playing it. Ultimately, it’s a fun game, but don’t expect anything groundbreaking.

Score 7.0/10
Amanda Vanhiel
Amanda is the host of our weekly segment Zelda News and streams every Sunday on our Twitch channel ZeldaUniverseTV. You can also hear her on our newly resurrected podcast: ZUCast. She has repped ZU as a panelist at cons such as PAX South and MomoCon, and as a guest on videos and podcasts with GameXplain, The New 8-Bit Heroes, Nerd Lunch, and more.