Oh I can hear you now internet. More like OLD Super Mario Bros Wii 2, amiright derp derp derp? Ok, while I’ll admit that it has the exact same physics and flow to it that New Super Mario Bros Wii did, there is enough new here to deserve your consideration.
First off, playing a 2D Mario in true HD is one of those wow moments gaming gives you every once in a while. While Mario’s world is not full of hyper realistic elements and you can’t see the individual fibers on his coveralls this cartoony world has a living glow. Everything seems to have been polished to the point you almost forget that these are just pixels and code moving on the TV. Like a 1930’s Disney cartoon flowers bob and sway to the ever classic Mario music. It’s all so … cheerful.
It's not flying, it's falling with style.
The showfloor demo has three different levels to try. First there is a standard open forest level that works as an introduction to the new Flying Squirrel Suit. It will slow your descent similar to the Super Cape, Raccoon Tail, Bunny Ears, Tanooki Suit … ok so a lot of other powers. If you spin jump (shake the WiiMote or Wii U tablet) while in the air the suit will give you a one time boost that sends you up quite high. It is not as great as truly flying but you still have a lot of aerial mobility with it.
The second demo level was set on some cliffs with moving mushroom platforms through out. This level introduces us to Baby Balloon Yoshi. Similar to the baby Yoshis found on Star Road in Super Mario World you must carry the little pink dino in front of you and he will devour normal sized enemies you run into. While he never grew into an adult Yoshi, spin jumping while holding him causes him to balloon up which (yet again) will greatly slow your descent. You can continue to spin jump which will give you a small amount of a boost which is useful for grabbing otherwise impossible to get collectables. He will deflate over time so this hovering is not infinite. Sadly, this also confirms that yet again Yoshis collected in one level do not carry over to the next as grabbing the flagpole sees you chuck the poor youngling to the side like pink garbage.
Floating thanks to an inflated pink baby dinosaur, only the third weirdest thing Mario has done.
The third playable level was a night level with large rotating star platforms. This really showed off the enhanced lighting effects as each star emitted light in an otherwise dark level and you could see the subtle changes in the shadows when you made the platform spin.
Playing single player you could use the now old school style of a sideways WiiMote or the new tablet controller, both simply requiring using the d-pad, face buttons, and the occasional shake. Everything happening on the TV is also displayed on the tablet which is only useful if you want to play but someone else wants to use the TV for something else.
My God ... it's full of stars.
The tablet controller really comes into play when you start playing multiplayer. The tablet player can create small temporary platforms by tapping the screen where they want them to appear. You can only create four platforms at any one time and they are really best used to keep the less skilled players from dying because of a difficult jump. In a way you could decide to be a jerk and put a platform right over a player’s head when they are going over a pit, but if you keep doing that they won’t let you be tablet master anymore. Really the feature reminds me most of the second player options from the Super Mario Galaxy games. You are put in the role of an assistant to the heros. I actually see this working better as a feature that will allow the more skilled gamer to help their younger siblings/children to make it through the game a little easier, sort of like Mario training wheels.
My time with New Super Mario Bros Wii U was much shorter than I’d like, but was enough to let me know that Mario fans will be pleased. It isn’t the most innovative thing ever, but it is still new Mario on a new console and that has to count for something.