Bowser has become exceedingly efficient at capturing Princess Peach. The King Koopa used to take a couple of years to hatch a new plot, but Bowser managed to kidnap Peach twice this year. We’ve heard the set up for a Super Mario Bros. game dozens of times now, so what’s new in New Super Mario Bros. U?
New Super Mario Bros. U has acorn mushrooms which transform Mario (or your Mii) into a Flying Squirrel. You don’t need a running start to fly like Raccoon Mario. If you shake the Wii remote you’ll soar straight up like Propeller Mario and drift towards the ground. The Fire Flower and Ice Flower from previous Mario games return too. Players can also pick up Baby Yoshis, which have different abilities. The only one I saw in the New Super Mario Bros. U demo was the purple Yoshi that transforms into a balloon.
The main attraction in the demo was Boost Mode, a speed running mode with multiplayer. Four players dash through the stage as Mario, Luigi or one of the toads while a fifth player creates boost blocks using the Wii U gamepad. Stepping on these blocks fills a meter and when its full a Boost Star appears. Grab this and the player with the Wii U controller can defeat any enemy even usually invincible enemies by tapping them.
New Super Mario Bros. U gives players 20 lives to complete a course as a team. The demo had a two stage Flying Squirrel course and a three stage Acrobat course with a purple Baby Yoshi. We started with the Flying Squirrel mode and after the first question mark block it was chaos. We fought over the four mushrooms that popped out and someone used my Mii’s head as a makeshift platform to reach a cache of coins. Collect 50 coins and Boost Mode speeds up and eventually the level gets so fast you have to dash at full speed just to keep yourself away from the edge of the screen. New Super Mario Bros. U, just like New Super Mario Bros. before it, is chaotic fun.
I took a turn as the Boost Block maker and tried to save other players from plummeting into bottomless pits. Catching players can be challenging because you don’t want to create blocks that accidentally get in another player’s way. I mostly created mini-staircases for players to hop on because the other players knew where I was going to place the next brick. That filled up the Boost Meter so I could focus on poking enemies.
We got close to the end of the Flying Squirrel course, but ran out of lives. The Acrobat course was even tougher with a Bowser’s castle level at the end. Solo, none of these would be that taxing, but the challenge of Boost Mode is working together as a team. That and outrunning the left edge of the screen.