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New Super Luigi U Review – Mario is Missing

New Super Luigi U is Nintendo’s first real stab at DLC and is a sign that the Big N has finally joined this millennium! Those of us who already own New Super Mario Bros U can download this Luigified update right now for a rather steep $20. Meanwhile, those who don’t own the original game will soon have the opportunity to purchase a standalone, disc-based version for an almost extortionate $30!

DLC for a Mario game sounds like a genius idea and rather than offering extra levels or cosmetics (such as Yoshi armour), Nintendo has tried to deliver us an entirely new experience instead.

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The problem is Nintendo doesn’t go far enough. On paper, New Super Luigi U looks fantastic! The game stars everyone’s favourite wingman Luigi, has 80 new levels, features a new playable character and offers a greater challenge thanks to Luigi’s increased speed and the new 100 second time limit that is imposed on each level. While $20 is rather pricey for downloadable content, Nintendo seemingly jammed enough content in to this add-on to justify its high price tag. But once you actually start playing New Super Luigi U, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve just been ripped off.

Expansions recycling content from the original game is pretty common, but with New Super Luigi U, Nintendo has been shamefully lazy. Luigi U features the exact same story, world map, music and power-ups found in Mario’s launch title, but the levels contained within each world are entirely new. Unlike the Luigi found in the original game, this new Luigi is faster, has less traction, jumps higher and can briefly defy gravity as he could in 1988’s Super Mario Bros. 2. However as each level begins with a restrictive 100 second time limit, Luigi’s unique atributes are some-what wasted.

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As the unforgiving time limit implies, the levels in New Super Luigi U are incredibly short. Most of the game’s challenge comes from trying to collect all three Secret Coins and reaching that illusive flagpole before time runs out. Coin hunting and discovering the secret Luigi image that is cunningly hidden in each level is one of this expansions few highlights. Being an add-on should have given Nintendo free reigns to try something new and creative in-terms of level design but unfortunately Luigi U falls short in this regard. Rather than re-writing the rule book, the levels in Luigi U are bite-sized re-imaginings of levels found in the original game. In many ways this makes Luigi U feel like a fan-made hack rather than an official Nintendo release.

Multiplayer is back once again and this time it’s more chaotic and unorganised than ever. If having more than one player attempt to conquer these frantic, miniature levels sounds disastrous, that’s because it is! The faster pace makes multiplayer more erratic than entertaining and the introduction of new character Nabbit may present problems when playing with 3 other players. Unlike the other characters in the game, Nabbit is invulnerable to enemies and cannot use any power-ups. Instead the little critter stores power-ups in his bag and cashes them in for 1-up’s at the end of each level. While this makes Nabbit the perfect choice for novice players, the fact that you can’t choose to leave him out of four player games seems like an oversight.

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While it’s great that Nintendo are finally embracing DLC on the Wii U, New Super Luigi U just doesn’t do enough to justify its premium price tag. 80 new levels sounds great in theory but unambitious level designs, lazy presentation and an almost unplayable multiplayer mode makes this DLC suitable for hardcore players only! Luigi is arguably one of Nintendo’s best characters and he deserves better than this, especially considering that Nintendo has dubbed 2013 to be “The Year of Luigi”. At this point the New Super Mario Bros. series feels about as “new” as a dusty cassette tape. By constantly returning to the same well, Nintendo has reduced a novel idea to exhausted franchise that needs to be taken out back and put down.

This review of New Super Luigi U was played on the Wii U.

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