He’s-a back! Critics jump for New Super Mario Bros

A Nintendo system isn’t really a Nintendo system until it’s got a good Mario game. Lucky for the Wii U, that game’s already here.

Reviewers have been playing plenty of New Super Mario Bros. U in advance of the Wii U’s release this Sunday, and they’re gobbling it down like a 1Up mushroom. Currently averaging an 85 at Metacritic, it’s being heralded as a return to form for the series — and  the first must-have game for the Wii U.

“Though it doesn’t necessarily redefine Nintendo’s iconic hero, it still manages to capture the sense of carefree adventure that many of us felt as kids,” writes IGN’s Ryan George in a 91/100 review. He makes the case that while it’s yet another 2D platformer (as opposed to the 3D Super Mario galaxy games on the Wii), it “strikes a great balance in all areas, ranging from its difficulty to design to enemies and bosses.”

The game’s plot is as simple as ever — evil Bowser has once again swiped poor Princess Peach, sending Mario on another epic journey through the Mushroom Kingdom to set things straight — but to Polygon’s Philip Kolar, it’s all about the secrets.

“By the third or fourth world, I stumbled across my first hidden exit, and New Super Mario Bros U’s depth was revealed,” he writes. “Exploration is rewarded with the kind of tricks that I remember sharing with friends at school growing up. Mario games have always had secrets, but they haven’t given me that feeling in a long time.”He doles out an 8.5/10.

Christian Donlan from Eurogamer calls it “a real step forward in detailing, imagination and character” and praises the new look courtesy of the Wii U’s increased power.

“Thankfully, where the map leads, the level designers have followed, offering a range of inventive treats that benefit from the best of the older Mario games’ ideas – and the increased resolution and power offered by the Wii U.” He scores it a 9/10.

But how about the multiplayer? To Joystiq’s Richard Mitchell, who gives it a 4.5/5, it’s good fun — even if it gets a little diabolical.

“As ever, playing co-op with friends (or significant others, if you think your relationship can handle it) is a blast, with players bumping into one another and working together to reach tricky Star Coins. That is, of course, if you can resist the temptation to steal all the power-ups or just pick up your teammates and toss them over a cliff. Constructive? No. Entertaining? Oh, yes.”

This plumber isn’t perfect, however. G4’s Jason Wishnox agrees that the multiplayer is terrific, but tosses a hammer at the overall design.

“Accompanied by another, the game produces some genuinely fantastic moments…but moments they are, surrounded by what feels like a B-team effort from Nintendo,” he laments, dinging the gameplay for being “conservative” and giving the game 3.5/5.

But most prospective Wii U owners will likely look past those flaws. As the first Mario game to launch alongside new Nintendo hardware since Super Mario 64 on the N64, New Super Mario Bros. U is a hard one to pass up.

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