Published on June 27th, 2012 | by Cameron Woolsey
Playing the Fifth Wheel in New Super Mario Bros. U
Platform: Nintendo Wii U
Release Date: Holiday 2012
When New Super Mario Bros. U was announced for Nintendo’s next system, I wondered how the game pad would be incorporated. I was a little disappointed to find that it really doesn’t do a whole lot. You can play the game with it, and the pad will also show what’s displayed on the TV, so you can play it anywhere in the house. However, you can’t play with it co-op with a friend.
Using the Wii U GamePad felt a little awkward due to the size of the beast. I’d much rather prefer the standard Wii controller over the GamePad any day. For those who have played New Super Mario Bros. Wii, don’t expect to see many changes with the Wii U sequel. The game performs just as well as it predecessor which of course means that it plays very well. For the short amount of time I had playing the game I had a lot of fun hopping on bad guys and running over twirling stars.
I also liked the new Squirrel Suit power-up which allows you to float like a leaf on the wind. Some areas support the suit with a descending string of coins to collect while floating. Pulling up on the GamePad or controller, or pressing a button, will cause Mario to pop up in the air, much like a double jump. For those who have a long history with Mario games, think of it like the cape from Super Mario World.
When playing with others, the player using Wii U game pad is delegated a supporting roll, in which you are able to place small temporary platforms which other players can use for platforming or by gaining extra coins by hitting it from underneath. Using the stylus, you can also tap on enemies to temporarily stun them, making Goombas and Koopas easier to deal with. The player on the GamePad becomes sort of the “sidekick” to the rest of the crew; not really playing, but doing enough to be considered helpful.
I suppose the you can also use your powers for evil by placing platforms above jumping allies so that they fall into a chasm. But that would just be a total dick move, right?
At this point, New Super Mario Bros. U is the game that utilizes the Wii U GamePad with the least amount of imagination. There really is no point to the GamePad at all during the game. Sure you can help your partner out by placing platforms and such, but would the game suffer much without that? Not at all.
New Super Mario Bros. U plays great and looks great. I have a feeling it will be one of the more widely played titles when it launches alongside the Wii U later this year. However, I recommend forgoing the GamePad in favor of a regular controller. Trust me, you won’t miss much otherwise.