When the Nintendo Wii U hit the market back in 2012, it did not sell very well. The name was part of the problem – it is, perhaps, one of the most unfortunately named consoles in recent memory. People were confused; was this some new peripheral? An upgrade to the Wii? Or an entirely new console?
A slow start
If you’re the sort of person who reads gaming magazines or websites, you’d know it was the latter, but despite the fantasies of those of us who write about games, most gaming-related purchases are made by people who don’t read our articles. Combine this with lacklustre marketing from Nintendo that failed to provide much clarity on just what the Wii U was, and it is not surprising that it would go on to sell only 13.5 million units, compared to its predecessor’s 101.6 million.
After less than two years, the Nintendo Switch’s sales numbers are already almost double that of the Wii U’s, creating a large market of players who skipped the previous hardware generation and are now eager to experience the best the Wii U had to offer.
That explains the existence of another unfortunately named release: New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe, an updated port of New Super Mario Bros U – originally released for the Wii U in 2012 – that includes the New Super Luigi U expansion.
Ode to the past
The name may be somewhat cumbersome, but that's the only bad thing about Deluxe. While the "main" games in the Mario series – such as 2017's Super Mario Odyssey – have been firmly three-dimensional since 1996's Super Mario 64, the New Super Mario Bros series is a love letter to the series' 2D, side-scrolling days.
Even if the only Mario game you ever played was 1985's Super Mario Bros (the one that started it all), you'll feel right at home with Deluxe. One change you will immediately notice, though, is how gorgeous this game looks. The gameplay may be inspired by the past, but the graphics are thoroughly modern – the colourful, stylised visuals bring the Mushroom Kingdom to life in the inimitable Nintendo way. All the series' familiar sounds are also present, eliciting the Pavlovian responses Shigeru Miyamoto's team have ingrained in us for almost three decades.
The music brings back familiar themes, and the way it is integrated with what is happening on screen once again shows why Nintendo have few, if any, peers when it comes to crafting this sort of experience.
The story is nothing new – as usual, Bowser is keeping Princess Peach prisoner, and it's up to Mario and friends to free her – but it provides the necessary narrative excuse to go romping about 160 levels that become evermore difficult the further you progress. Deluxe is not easy. You will die a lot. For those who prefer a more casual experience with much less frustration, Nintendo included the option of playing as characters such as Toadette and Nabbit who have an easier time making it through many of the levels. There's also the option to watch Luigi carefully make his way through a stage if you get really stuck.
Deluxe is that rare game that tries to be something for everyone and succeeds – it's equally adept at being a hardcore experience for Mario veterans that will have you fighting the urge to throw your Switch out the nearest window as it is at being a gentle introduction to gaming that will put a smile on the face of young players. It's a great game for families to play together, allowing up to five people to play at the same time.
Some may grumble at Nintendo's decision to re-release Wii U games on the Switch, but it's a move that should be applauded. It's bringing excellent games such as Deluxe to a wider audience and has not affected the pace of release of new games.
And the more people who get to experience the fun that can be had in Deluxe, the better – just remember to stay away from the windows.