Having spent most of his digital life stuck in the shadow of his shorter, and more portly brother, Mario, Luigi has been deserving of a spot in the limelight for a long time now. Nintendo has thankfully realized that, and is doing its best to give every one of the world’s Player Twos a chance to shine, through its Year of Luigi plan. You’ve probably heard of it, but if not it’s pretty self-explanatory, and will see the green-clad plumber become a focus of new digital content, such as games, DLC and collectibles, throughout his 30th anniversary year. It’s relatively new, of course, and has quite a few more months to go, but the wheel began rolling with Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon for 3DS and has picked up speed with New Super Luigi U.
For the purpose of this review, we’ll stick with the latter title mentioned above: New Super Luigi U. That is, the first major downloadable content pack for what is arguably the Wii U’s best game, New Super Mario Bros. U. Approved for retail later this summer, it recently received a digital e-Shop release at an extremely comfortable price tag of $19.99. Sure, that happens to be more than most add-ons cost, but it’s more than fair when you consider just how much high-quality content is packed into the surprisingly small install file. In fact, after playing through what is a lengthy and nearly entirely brand new campaign, I must admit that twenty dollars feels like an absolute steal for what’s on offer here.
Through and through, Nintendo’s latest add-on is a combination of classic Mario Bros. gameplay and the additional twists that New Super Mario Bros. U added to the fold. The way everything unfurls is identical, as Princess Peach is once again targeted and captured by Bowser, who decides to lock her in her own castle. Going forward, the map is nearly identical, meaning that you can look forward to traversing the same world regions once again. While both of those returning features may come off as downsides to some, this isn’t just a retread of the same 80+ stages, with only minor changes having been made.
As a whole, New Super Luigi U provides platforming fanatics with 82 new stages, and comes in at a 4 to 4.5 hour-long runtime as a result. Of course, that figure doesn’t take into account all of the new star coins that you’ll surely want to find if you’re a completionist. As such, a full playthrough of the DLC could balloon up to double the mentioned amount, if not a bit more. It all depends on the player’s skill level, especially since some of the newly-introduced coins are very well hidden and/or incredibly tough to pick up, and Luigi’s movements are a bit more ‘floaty’ than his brother’s. Add in the fact that almost all of the (challenging) new stages only offer one hundred second-long time limits, and you’ll have an idea of just how daunting said task happens to be.
The aforementioned stage list is full of unique and memorable offerings, which take their thematic cues from worlds full of snow and ice, fire and lava, trees and acorns, darkness and toxic soda, cloud formations and desert foods, plus water and evil fish. Through those combinations, Nintendo has created an over world that is ripe with individuality, creativity and beauty, not to mention elements that will make for a masochist’s pipe dream. In fact, the challenge is upped from the beginning, allowing Luigi to show his older brother that he’s just as much of a hero as he is, and he does so while looking good in a slippery penguin suit that can be used to slide across frozen surfaces. On top of that, he must also deal with Nabbit, who loves to steal items then hide in stages, testing players by seeing if they can best his speedy little legs.
To be frank, this may be the best iteration of the franchise thus far, and is at least in the running for a top three spot. It’s tight, colourful and creative, with loads upon loads of personality, though it doesn’t exactly rewrite the book in any notable fashion. However, we’re speaking about DLC and not a brand new game, although it feels like one. In fact, I had to force myself to remember that this is only a $20 add-on for a full retail release. It’s simply that fun, beautiful-looking and exceptionally well-made.
Although it goes without saying, New Super Luigi U is an absolute must-buy for all of the platforming fans out there. It showcases Nintendo at its best, and is more than worth its budget-friendly asking price.
This review is based on a copy of the Wii U exclusive that we were provided with.