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New Super Mario Bros. U was released the same day as the Wii U’s launch as one of the first games to get for Nintendo’s latest console. While it felt just like another iteration in the New Super Mario Bros. series with another batch of levels and new power-ups, there were some neat ideas with the game’s other modes with the challenges and boost rush. The potential of DLC with this game was also something adding more of these challenges and boost rush levels, but unfortunately that never happened. Instead of tiny pieces of DLC, Nintendo decided to release a full expansion of the game simply called New Super Luigi U. In honor of the Year of Luigi, Mario’s brother takes center stage in the same overworld as the main game, but with a complete set of new and challenging levels to beat. If you thought New Super Mario Bros. U was too easy, then this DLC is perfectly for you with shorter yet difficult levels.
Luigi’s signature abilities that first appeared in both the US and Japanese versions of Super Mario Bros. 2 are here in New Super Luigi U. From his higher and floatier jump to his longer skid, Mario’s brother definitely has a different playstyle. Add along the shorter levels and 100 second time limit, there is no time to play conservative. New Super Luigi U was made with experienced Mario players in mind and it shows right away from the first world till the DLC’s final levels. The level design also had to be changed with Luigi’s floatier jump in mind and Nintendo has done a great job with this new set of challenging levels to test experienced players’ platforming skills. Despite the levels’ ramp up in difficulty and shorter time limit, there are still mushroom and 1-up houses to make things a bit easier. You still have a decent amount of lives going throughout Luigi’s campaign if you’re able to consistently jump to the top of the flagpole in classic Mario fashion.
However, what is unchanged are the story and the boss fights. The story is not surprising, but I did expect the boss fights to be changed to cater to Luigi’s abilities. Turns out that wasn't the case as all the mini-boss, boss fights against the Koopa Kids, encounters with Bowser Jr., and even Bowser himself are the same exact ones as New Super Mario Bros. U. The only difference I would say is that Luigi’s floatier jump does make these fights easier if you memorize their patterns.
With shorter and more difficult levels, experienced players can beat New Super Luigi U in a day or two as these levels are not impossibly hard, but very beatable. Of course it will take a bit more time to 100% the whole game similarly to Mario’s journey collecting every star coin and finding all the secret exits. These secret exits especially in this DLC are very hidden as they are located in spots you don’t expect them to be at.
The four-player co-op that was New Super Mario Bros. U and the Wii iteration is also unchanged for the most part in this DLC. Mario is not a playable character and is replaced by Nabbit, the rabbit thief you had to catch at random levels back in the main game and also here. Nabbit’s skill set is quite different from Luigi and the Toads as he is invincible against enemies, but can still die by falling into bottomless pits or getting crushed. He is basically also the replacement for the Super Guide, which lets a CPU player finish a level for you if you kept dying. Also, there is no new challenge mode or any boost rush levels featuring Luigi’s abilities either, so there isn’t as much replay value for this DLC besides the story mode.
Besides being available as a download on the eShop for those that have New Super Mario Bros. U for $20, New Super Luigi U will also be available as a retail product at the end of August for just $10 more. As DLC, it is still worth your time and money if you already own NSMBU as it is a good enough reason to return to the classic 2D platforming gameplay as Mario’s brother with some more challenge. The level design is once again top notch catering to experienced players and the shorter time limit. These levels’ length do remind me a bit of Super Mario Bros. 3 and there are ton of a hidden goodies to be found besides the star coins and secret exits. Plenty of Luigi sprites can be found throughout all the levels for the sake of fanservice. However, not everything was changed to accommodate Luigi’s skill set as the boss fights remain exactly the same as Mario’s journey. Plus, no new challenge missions or boost rush levels were added featuring Luigi to further increase its replay value. Despite those unfortunate mishaps, New Super Luigi U shows that Nintendo can make solid DLC expansions to their games as big as this and hopefully we will see more of it in future Nintendo games on the Wii U.