What better way to introduce your new video game console than with your best spokesman?
Nintendo icon Mario helps usher in the Wii U era with New Super Mario Bros. U, another charming chapter for the long-running franchise.
New Super Mario Bros. U features an all-too familiar plot in Mario lore: Princess Peach gets kidnapped by the evil Bowser, and Mario must perform a rescue.
Mario proves to be the biggest beneficiary of the Wii U's jump to HD visuals. The game is breathtaking, as bright colors pop off the screen.
The game's Story Mode is approached with a traditional Wii remote or using the Wii U GamePad, allowing players to either watch Mario in HD glory or play the entire game from the controller's touchscreen.
New Super Mario Bros. U sticks to the platforming formula that has made this franchise so wonderful. Players explore a variety of interesting environments, from deserts with sinking sand to icy landscapes and creepy haunted houses. Players hop on enemies, break open bricks and punch blocks for coins and power-ups such as an acorn that gives Mario a flying squirrel suit for gliding across structures.
As with its DS and Wii counterparts, New Super Mario Bros. U boasts an open world, so players can move between stages in any way they choose. Special mushroom huts offer power-ups players can stash before entering a zone as well as 1ups for bonus lives.
The game also leans heavily on cooperative action, allowing up to five players to participate simultaneously. While four players control Mario, Luigi and the Toads with Wii remotes, a fifth player uses the GamePad to create blocks for players to hop on.
Other game options help extend the Mario experience beyond Story Mode. Boost Rush is a cooperative option where players must clear levels as quickly as possible. When players collect coins, the scene moves faster, forcing players to pick up the pace. There is also a variety of challenges players can complete for the best score.
No surprise that Mario delivers another stellar performance for the franchise, serving as a solid ambassador for Nintendo's next console.
Platform(s): Wii U
Rating: E for Everyone
Release Date: Nov. 18
Score: 3.5 stars (out of 4)
-by Brett Molina, USA Today