New Super Luigi U is a downloadable expansion to New Super Mario Bros U. Intent on making every level more difficult and finally giving Luigi time to shine, the DLC definitely succeeds in that regard. It lacks a bit of polish and creativity, though.
For once, Mario is not around. Players can indulge themselves with more Luigi. He doesn’t control like his brother, either. Luigi is a bit floaty.
While this doesn’t lead to the best game mechanics around, having something different come to the table is nice. Luigi shouldn’t be a carbon copy of his brother and I liked having to master a whole different feel.
Nintendo definitely ramped up the difficulty with this DLC. Enemies literally fill the screen in some stages and a lot of the platforms move ridiculously slowly. The speed of these completely counteracts Luigi’s sloppy feel, making for some difficult timing.
The timer has been decreased as well. When every level only gives you 100 seconds to reach the goal, you’re constantly in a rush to make it to the finish. This makes the game feel a bit more bite-sized and definitely easy to pick up and play.
Thankfully, the changes were not limited to changing Luigi’s jump arc. Every single level from the base game has been remixed to some degree. There are some genuinely new ideas, too, but those are few and far between.
You can’t rest on your knowledge of the past game. Every enemy is in a different location. Each locale has a brand new set of star coins. Even the secret exits are in different locations (albeit in the same levels).
Presentation is the Same
While the graphics and music are fine and all, nothing has changed about them. I suppose bumping up the enemy count takes some kind of toll on the hardware, but I would have liked to see new textures.
For that matter, even Luigi’s sound clips are the same. He still mutters, “Phew! Made it!” when you reach a goal post and his death sounds are ripped straight from New Super Mario Bros. U. For all the tweaking done to the levels, this just feels like a missed opportunity.
Even the world map remains untouched. If you simply showed someone the main menu, I doubt they would believe you that Luigi’s first traditional outing was different.
Lackluster Level Design
The challenge is definitely ramped up, but it feels kind of artificial. With the timer turned down dramatically, you suddenly are not afforded the comfort of exploration. In addition to that, each level is insanely short.
If you ignore any of the obstacles in your path, you can clear levels in a scant 30-40 seconds. Without seeking out the star coins, even the asinine enemy placement feels wasted. Further insult to injury comes from coins that showcase the exact jump arc you should be following.
Mario games usually work on a sense of flow that comes down to the controls. Mario has an extremely tight and short jump that allows the developers to exploit his shortcomings. Luigi is floaty and slippery, so you’d think the level design should match.
That isn’t the case, though. Every level is laid out so that Mario could complete it. This makes absolutely no sense until you remember that the Toads in multiplayer do not possess Luigi’s jump arc. Because of this, Luigi often feels out of place in the game world.
A lot of low-hanging ceilings become a burden and slow-moving platforms are practically a death sentence. This is all so strange until you beat the game, when you are given the ability to turn off Luigi’s new physics.
If the entire point of the DLC was to introduce a new style of controls, why not perfect them? Why are the levels designed around a character that doesn’t even make an appearance? It makes the game feel sloppy.
Not Tuned for Multiplayer
This all seems to go back to the level design, but New Super Luigi U is clearly not made for multiplayer. A lot of the ledges one must trek are so small that barely one player can fit on them. Getting four on there is nigh-on impossible.
The final world also has a segment where thwomps come crashing down on blocks that break underneath them. Just reminiscing about how I cleared that makes me smile, but I think that tears would be flowing from my eyes if I had to carry my friends with me.
No Character Selection
Outside of multiplayer, you cannot select what character you’d like to be. This might sound in opposition to the entire purpose of the DLC (to play as Luigi), but let me explain myself. Nintendo added Nabbit the Rabbit for players who are just awful at Mario games.
Nabbit is invincible to everything on screen outside of cliffs and lava. He can walk through enemies without getting hurt. He was clearly made for those without experience in the genre. Why can’t you select him for single-player?
Even worse, if you are playing with four players, someone has to be Nabbit. If everyone wanted a fair chance, you simply aren’t given that option. This just begs the question of why Mario was excluded. Even better, why not include Wario?
New Super Luigi U isn’t without merit. The DLC is definitely challenging and offers something for veteran Mario players. All 82 levels from New Super Mario Bros. U are remixed and have some new ideas. I just wish that they lasted longer.
In addition to that, I wish the developers took advantage of Luigi’s jump arc. When everything can be cleared as Mario (who is absent from the game), Luigi almost makes the difficulty easier. This defeats the entire purpose of the purchase.
Still, I would recommend hardcore Mario fans give this a shot. Finally yelling obscenities at a Mario game after 15 years is a joy for me. I haven’t played a Nintendo game this hard for quite some time.
Maybe we can get something that feels more whole next time, though?