This is the year of Luigi; at least that is what Nintendo claims. With New Super Mario Bros. U still being one of the sole reasons to own the big N’s new console, it is only fitting that Mario’s brother gets the respect he deserves. New Super Luigi U is really a first for Nintendo. This hefty DLC package basically re-skins the entire New Super Mario Bros. U experience, putting Luigi front and center. Those concerned that the same levels and challenges are just being recycled can lay those worries to rest; this is one expansion that delivers on its promise.
Luigi’s adventure is available from the main menu. This is an entirely new experience with over 80 new levels, all completely different from Mario’s original adventure. There are also a few changes to the dynamics of the game play.
For starters, Luigi controls fairly different than his brother. He jumps higher, and can even float a little by frantically kicking his legs. Nintendo is one of the best at subtle mechanics, and these new levels are designed for Luigi’s unique capabilities. He also slides around a lot more, almost like Mario does on ice (Luigi on ice is a nightmare at times). Getting used to these mechanics can take some time, but also add a new level of challenge to the formula.
Probably the largest change though is that every level essentially becomes a speed run. The classic “hurry up” music plays at the outset of every level, and players only have 99 seconds to complete each stage. Timer is thankfully added for boss fights, but this frantic decision always had me on my toes as I worked through the new challenges.
The new levels are all extremely well designed and fun to play. I had nearly exhausted myself on the original game, and this new set of challenges really brought me back. I was dying early and often, and collecting three gold coins on each level is a feat I may never accomplish. To say that New Super Luigi U is a challenge would be grossly underselling it. Perhaps it is the fact that we just don’t get platformers like this enough to hone my skills, but I really had a blast tearing through Nintendo’s level crafting.
What hasn’t changed though is the presentation. The title screen, intro and even boss fights are ripped right out of the original game. That is a tad disappointing considering so much has changed. Not that story or presentation are what make a Nintendo platformer, it just takes away the uniqueness of Luigi’s adventure. If Nintendo could have crafted even a remotely different story, perhaps where Luigi had to save Mario or something along those lines, it would have gone a long way in differentiating it as more than DLC.
Multiplayer is still a huge part of Super Luigi U, and there is a brand new character available for the fourth user. Nabbit is an interesting piece to the puzzle as he is invincible to enemies. He can only be defeated by environmental objects, or falling into a pit. He also cannot pick up power-ups, but instead shove them into his pack and turn them into 1-UPs at the end of each stage. It is a strange dynamic, and one some players will likely be turned off by, though it makes a great character for younger players to experience the game.
A fifth player can still wield the Wii U controller and build blocks for all four other players, which is still as fun as it was in the original. The most exciting change that comes with Luigi’s DLC though is the addition of Pro Controller support. Playing a Mario game with that controller is so much more satisfying than dealing with the tiny buttons and d-pad on a Wii remote.
New Super Luigi U is a fantastic package for the $19.99 price tag. There are a ton of new levels, and the unique mechanics create a whole new experience. I wish the presentation had been tweaked a little, but it is a minor inconvenience. This is the kind of expansion I dreamt of when DLC was introduced: something familiar, yet unique enough to keep me coming back to the original game. If you still own New Super Mario Bros. U, this is a must have for fans of platforming games in general.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.