For the past 32 years Mario has hogged the spotlight. Since he first appeared in "Donkey Kong" back in 1981 he is (almost) always the one that exclusively gets to vanquish evil, and get all the credit for saving the princess. He is always the one that's front and center on the cover of game boxes, and on standees in game stores. He is the "Mario" in "Mario Bros." But, what about Luigi?
Mario's lanky, occasionally cowardly, younger brother has never really had his own chance to shine - until now. While appearances in games like "Mario's Missing," "Luigi's Mansion," and the "Mario & Luigi" series have helped bring Luigi out from the shadows, he has never had a true "Mario" game (read: platformer) to call his own. Well, 30 years after his first appearance in "Mario Bros." Luigi is finally getting what he deserves - his own game, mostly. "New Super Luigi U" is Nintendo's first foray into large-scale downloadable content, as well as Luigi's first staring role.
"New Super Luigi U" is an updated take on the Wii U launch title "New Super Mario Bros. U." In this (currently) download-only expansion (a standalone retail release will hit store shelves in late August), Luigi is given 80-plus new levels to run around in, in a game that is built on top of the original release. While there is little overall change (expect the same story, villains, and world map), the focus of this expansion was put entirely on gameplay.
As a playable character, Luigi has entirely different physics than his shorter and stouter older brother. The development team that tackled "Luigi U" gave the titular character the ability to jump higher, which is something that Luigi's longtime fans should come to expect since it has been his signature move since 1988's "Super Mario Bros. 2." In addition to the extra height, Luigi's jump comes with a bit of a float: it's similar to Yoshi's, but not as exaggerated. However, Luigi also experiences some tweaks on the ground as well, where he isn't as precise on his feet as Mario is, slipping and sliding around, with momentum pulling him just a little bit more than players are likely to be comfortable with. Right from the outset of the game it's clear that this isn't just another "Mario" game.
Each of the levels in the game have also been changed to accommodate Luigi's unique skills. Platforms and coins are more spread out and harder to reach, placing more emphasis on players needing to jump far and wide to collect everything that's hidden throughout each board. As if that wasn't enough, there is a 100-second time limit imposed right from the beginning of every level, forcing players to run if they want to beat the clock. These tweaks to the formula, no matter how small they may be, do ratchet up the difficulty level a bit, making Luigi's journey through the Mushroom Kingdom quite harder than Mario's. Therein proving the point that it's always more difficult to be the younger sibling.
Just about everything players will remember from the original release is still there, including multiplayer (complete with GamePad support), even though it comes with a bit of a twist. Since Mario is nowhere to be found in "Luigi U," he needed to be replaced in multiplayer, and in doing so, Nintendo looked to their all-new "Mario Bros. U" character Nabbit to round out the playable options. Nabbit comes with his own physics, as well as virtual invincibility. While he can not use power-ups, he does not take damage from enemies, making him a nice addition, given the increased difficulty of "Luigi U." Nabbit can also be accessed as a playable character in the single-player by holding a button during the level selection process, instantly making him an invaluable asset for some of the more challenging levels.
Other than that, most Wii U owners should know what to expect from "New Super Luigi U" - outside of some hidden Luigi art placed within each level. It's a straight-forward 2D platformer that extends the life of "New Super Mario Bros. U" drastically. With more levels to play, and the increased difficulty "Luigi U" helps solve some of the outstanding problems with the original release. While it may seem like a bit of a steep price, $19.99, if you're looking for a new way to play a "Mario" game, complete with some new, (finally) challenging levels, "New Super Luigi U" is a great pick up. After all of these years, doesn't Luigi finally deserve a little bit of respect?
'New Super Luigi U' -- Score 4out of 5