New Super Mario Bros. U had three stages and two new powerups to try. Grab a squirrel mushroom to turn into Flying Squirrel Mario. This costume lets Mario launch a bit into the air if you shake the remote and swoop downwards. Tiny Balloon Yoshi also gives Mario a boost and lets him glide safely to a platform. While New Super Mario Bros. U will have multiplayer, the E3 demo only had single player available.
I started with the second stage, which was kind of like a prettier version of World 1-3 from the original Super Mario Bros. This stage had mushroom trees to hop from and giant piranha plants to avoid. The third level was set at nighttime with rotating star platforms to jump on and snow falling in the background. Nintendo added more detail to the backgrounds for their first HD Mario game.
The level design didn’t feel that different compared to other Mario games, but Nintendo added one neat feature – boost mode. A second player using the Wii U controller can create platforms by tapping the screen. Instead of resorting to the game-plays-itself Super Play mode, Boost mode allows a more experienced player to help a casual player progress through New Super Mario Bros. U. Being a helper is a different kind of challenge since you have to be fast with your fingers and anticipate where Mario will land.
You can create up to four blocks (one for each card suit) which stay on the screen until Mario jumps on them or you try to create a fifth block. The system is quite flexible since you can make a staircase over obstacles and create a bridge block by block so a player can completely avoid a jump. A helper player can also poke goombas to stun them and touch other items in the environment.
Boost mode is for hardcore players too. A Nintendo rep explained there are some secret areas you can only get to, like a 1up mushroom at the very beginning of the first level, with boost mode. You can also create new paths using boost mode for a speed run and if you really want to show off you can make small coin blocks by tapping a brick you created. Mario is rewarded with a couple of coins if he stands on one of these tiny platforms. I suppose players will be able to get unlimited lives by farming coins this way too.
It seems like Nintendo still has more to show when it comes to New Super Mario Bros. U because Tiny Bubble Yoshi wasn’t in the demo, but was featured in a trailer. New Super Mario Bros. U also adds your Mii as a playable character. Nintendo plans to release this 2D side-scrolling game this year along side Wii U.