Luigi may not have the notoriety that his brother Mario has, but any true Mario gamer knows that he is Mario's superior. He jumps higher, has more versatile skills, and can even keep up with Mario in every way Mario excels. He is the 'wise and humble' god among men and fungi in the Mushroom Kingdom; he is the Dumbeldore; he is the Gandalf; he is the Raiden. He's so secure in his superiority he even feigns jealousy to ensure that Mario retains the spotlight like a good brother would! Well, at least that's my theory. While New Super Luigi U may not match the fame and significance of Luigi's Mansion 2 from earlier in the year, we're still looking at a Luigi-centric platformer that is in many ways a superior version of an already fun game, even if the co-op multiplayer is even more hectic than it was before.
As many know, New Super Mario Bros. U was a Wii U launch title that featured a whopping 82 levels that blended the immensely popular New Super Mario Bros. formula with Super Mario World nostalgia thanks to an open, unified world map, alternate paths and the ability to completely skip entire worlds, not to mention the addition of a star road. New Super Luigi U is a DLC pack that is basically the same concept but with Luigi at the helm rather than his shorter, more rotund brother. The overworld map, alternate paths, and story are all identical to their original retail release version, but the levels are all unique to the DLC. In effect, it doubles the amount of levels in New Super Mario Bros. U by creating 82 new levels specifically designed with Luigi's skill set in mind.
Don't forget: Luigi is a god amongst plumbers. For this reason, the levels are all quite difficult by comparison. Due to Luigi's increased jump skills and the fact that virtually every level starts by gifting you a mushroom, the level designs are free to be more challenging, and challenge they do! Individual stages are brisk, but so expertly designed that they are meant to be enjoyed as a speed run with everything laid out and timed in such a way that a skilled player could beat the limited 100 second clock and get all three star coins before making it to the end. I praised Rayman Origins for its streamlined level design that worked both as a well paced or speedy run through, and this emulates that feel very well. One of my favorite levels involved piranha plants and moving platforms, and if you were precise, you could just barely miss the chomping plants and perfectly land on the very edges of the platforms and continue to run the entire time right through to the end. In addition to the streamlined nature of the levels and the relatively easy-to-find-and-grab star coins, there are no mid-level checkpoints, so you must get all your collectables and finish the level in one go.
However, do not bother with the multiplayer on this one. I have spent plenty of time enjoying the multiplayer aspect of New Super Mario Bros. Wii and U, and those can be frustrating on their own; imagine how much harder it would be trying to balance 4 people all trying to run at top speed through a level that demands perfection or when many needed elements rely on hitting an enemy that's only there for one character. If you're into that kind of masochism, then go wild, I would personally avoid it. On the bright side, there is no Mario, and the thief known as Nabbit replaces him, and he's very, VERY useful. Oh, and as an added bonus I was pleased to see the penguin suit and the propeller cap make returns, even if they're basically just the ice flower and squirrel suit, respectively.
The graphics and assets are the same, and many levels share similar motifs, but overall it's hard to really be all that negative about New Super Luigi U's presentation. The fact of the matter is that there's not much to New Super Luigi U that wasn't already addressed in the review of its mother-game. It's a DLC pack that switches up the levels to be short, quick, optimized levels that enforce a strict time limit and are catered to Luigi's skill set. The graphics, story, and over-arching world map all remain the same, as do the coin-grabbing collection mechanics and multiplayer, despite the levels demanding much more precision. New Super Luigi U is a great expansion pack for those looking for a challenge and the price is right at only $19.99, but I highly advise you avoid co-op play, since it's hard enough as it is without annoying troll family members throwing you into lava pits.
This review is based on a digital download for New Super Luigi U on the Wii U. New Super Luigi U will also be releasing via a standalone retail disc later this summer.