Wii U

How Luigi Got His Own Game With New Super Luigi U


When the developers of new New Super Mario Bros. U began to think about what kind of downloadable content they could create for the game, the initial idea was to expand upon “secondary play” by adding a bunch of Boost Rush courses. Ultimately, however, this idea ended up being adopted for New Super Mario Bros. 2 instead.


“As I remember it, we had decided to distribute additional courses for the two titles, but each group was going to think about what they should be like for each game, and the ideas for this one came up just a little bit faster than for New Super Mario Bros. 2,” Nintendo’s Takashi Tezuka revealed in an Iwata Asks interview.


However, while the “U” team was quicker to come up with DLC ideas, New Super Mario Bros. 2 was farther along, and was going to be released much sooner. Coincidentally, the team developing “2” came up with the idea for Coin Rush courses as DLC, too, and since their game was coming out first, the “U” team was asked to do something different. Ultimately, they decided to make advanced courses.


“We originally assumed the downloadable content would be for people who had played New Super Mario Bros. U, and decided to make it for people who wanted to play it even more,” Tezuka explains. “So I had been saying it could be a little more difficult.”


Since the courses were more difficult, it was decided that the length of each course would be shortened, in order to keep individual stages from feeling overly tedious. This was partly inspired by Super Mario Bros. 3, which Masataka Takemoto, the director of New Super Mario Bros. U, played in order to help think up ideas.


Once development of the DLC began, team members from the New Super Mario Bros. 2 team were brought over to help out, but at this point the game was still being made using Mario. It wasn’t until Tezuka heard about Nintendo’s “Year of Luigi” plan that he pitched the idea of making the game entirely about Luigi instead, and making it part of the celebration. Luigi’s abilities helped balance the game better, too, he says.


“Several things were good about switching to Luigi,” Tezuka feels. “When we were making the game for Mario, it was somewhat difficult, and I myself wondered if some parts were too difficult. But when we switched to Luigi, we realized we also needed to change the actions. When we did, places that had been difficult weren’t so much anymore.”


In addition to the game being designed around Luigi, it was also now driven by a time limit. Each course would need to be completed in under 100 seconds. In order to fine-tune difficulty, each tick on the clock was made slightly longer than in New Super Mario Bros. U as well.


Finally, while the game was initially meant to be released solely as a downloadable expansion, Nintendo’s sales teams in different parts of the world requested a standalone retail version as well, with the goal being to target players that didn’t already own New Super Mario Bros. U.


Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.