I have no idea what is going on here, and I LOVE it
Trying to find time to play videogames when working full-time hours is like me saying "no" to a lifetime supply of rainbow cookies: it borders on the impossible. Friday night, however, was a different story, as a friend of mine invited me over his apartment with another buddy to play some WiiU. My buddy Pete had been pestering my friend Dom to get a game on the WiiU so folks could have a rambunctious good time when over his place, and Dom finally caved in and got New Super Mario Bros. U
to bring people together in harmony and not wage war on each other, hungry for blood (unlike SOME games; yes, I am looking directly at you, Funky Barn
). I got acquainted with the controls while Pete had a cigarette and Dom was cleaning, which didn't take long because I had played the previous title on the Wii. Once Pete came in and was ready to play, my OCD kicked in and I suggested we go through stages where him and Dom had not procured all three Star Coins. Surely there was some awesome prize for getting them all in every level, because I needed justification for my sick disease. Off we went on ADVENTURE!
This level is so gorgeous, it makes you momentarily forget how fatal that purple water is and that HOLY SHIT, BOWSER IS TRYING TO EAT ME FROM THE BACKGROUND
There are two things gamers will notice right off the bat upon their first New Super Mario Bros. U
session: that the game is stunning in HD, and that there is absolutely no way in hell any of these levels can be completed with four players running around on-screen, unless all four people are psychic and know exactly what each other is going to do at all times. Seriously, I had a hard enough time coordinating with Pete, and we aren't slouches when it comes to co-op play. Amidst all the accidental bouncing off of each other's heads and CONSTANT deaths, there was much fun to be had. For example, Soda Jungle - 4
was a riot (and beautiful too; look at that screenshot up above): Pete and I were dying a lot because we found out that the purple water WASN'T swimmable, while also looking for hidden passages to find those delicious Star Coins. At one point we exited the stage and used our reserve Stars (hello, Super Mario Bros. 3
!) and said "fuck it": we zipped from the checkpoint towards the goal with reckless abandon, because ignoring the purple water and jumping crazily across pipes without thinking is the only way to win (pro tip: it isn't). I smiled from ear to ear, feeling exactly like I did as a small boy playing Super Mario World
for the very first time.
This level can seriously go die in a fire
Of course, playing New Super Mario Bros. U
isn't all sunshine and rainbows, though there is a lot of that in the literal sense. Take, for example, Soda Jungle - Flight of the Para-Beetles
. This level is agony, and the neat, funny thing about the WiiU is that you are constantly reminded of that every time you die and the Miiverse posts pop up (no shit this level is tough, MarioRulezHard). Even using the fun gliding acorn power-up doesn't help much, because then THIS happens mid-way through the stage:
I can only imagine what a wonderful time four people will have playing this bonus level. And yes, if you showed me video footage of it actually happening, I'd call you a goddamned liar. Even Pete and I couldn't do it together: the only way this bastard got beaten was because we took turns riding in a bubble and making the other person try to get to the end solo. Dom, our resident "I can make platforms using the GamePad" guy, couldn't even make blocks because there were too many Para-Beetles on-screen. This stage took some tries to beat, and although it was frustrating, there was something that made me genuinely happy: screaming at the sight of giant Bullet Bills filling the screen intent on making our lives a living hell.
Being able to kill these assholes with a Star or with the GamePad power-up is one of the greatest joys we as a human race can experience
During Sparkling Waters - 2
, I started to notice how wonderful and almost necessary (at least with four players playing on the TV) the GamePad is. My friend Dom was quite good at using it for various uses: the stylus can hold enemies in place and can even knock some on their back when used on the GamePad's touchscreen, and it shatters Dry Bones to pieces with a single tap. Dom was able to destroy the spiky fish up top when Pete and I successfully landed on his self-made platforms a couple of times in a row, which helped us get a particularly tough to get Star Coin. Dom was also able to tell where Boos were located on the map during a maze we had to cross on the overworld, which was great because I forgot where each one was the second they popped into the ground. It's a very innovative new toy that I think is quite revolutionary, and some of the Star Coins are almost inconceivable to get without someone making platforms. It sucks that it doesn't show which Yoshis hold which item during the Toad minigame, though, because three men in their late twenties cannot possibly remember who is holding the Bowser "you earned absolutely nothing" card that ruins your life (probably due to a combination of old age and a "let's get back to dying over and over because it's fun!" mentality that only people my age will understand).
Mario and Luigi can always touch the sky when high on shrooms
I am so friggin' happy I got a chance to play me some New Super Mario Bros. U
. I haven't laughed and smiled due to a combination of actually having fun and unbelievable frustration in a long time. The item reserves that pay homage to Super Mario Bros. 3
and the overworld map that is full of secret exits like Super Mario World
offer a great sense of nostalgia, and the GamePad adds a new level of enjoyment when put into the proper hands (and a new level of physical violence in the wrong ones). I can't wait to try it myself, though I know there will be moments where I will intentionally hinder my friends' progress, because I can be a dick sometimes and it's funny. I've barely scratched the surface with this adventure, and I'm eager to have some more time with it as soon as possible. Give it a try if you have got some good pals to play it with.
It's good to be a kid again.
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