New Super Luigi U. (for Nintendo Wii U ) review

New Super Luigi U gives the unsung Mario brother his own side-scrolling action, but it's a lot harder than New Super Mario Bros. U, the game on which this DLC is based..

Luigi has it rough. While his brother Mario is the headliner in Nintendo’s biggest games, Luigi is the sidekick at best and absent at worst. While Mario got swarms of gold coins to swim through in New Super Mario Bros. 2, Luigi got haunted houses to creep through in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. He’s always getting the short end of the stick, which is why New Super Luigi U is so promising. This full-game DLC for New Super Mario Bros. U puts Luigi in center stage and takes Mario out of the picture for 80 new levels. The downloadable version offers effectively a full game for $19.99 over the Nintendo Wii U eShop, as long as you already own New Super Mario Bros. U, and a standalone disc-based version in a special Luigi green case will be released in August for $29.99. Unfortunately, once again the path Luigi treads is more difficult and less rewarding than his brother’s.

The Challenge
New Super Luigi U. is a challenge game. Compare it to the original Super Mario Bros. 2 (not the American version) as a sequel or expansion to Super Mario Bros. The levels have the same elements but are much harder, and Luigi jumps higher and is much more difficult to control thanks to his “floatiness,” an aspect introduced in Super Mario Bros. 2. While the design elements are clever just like New Super Mario Bros. U, every level in New Super Luigi U just feels like a remixed and shortened version of the game it expands upon. As DLC, this isn’t exactly a con, but if you were hoping for the full, open New Super Mario Bros. U experience expanded by another game’s length, you’re going to be disappointed.

Each level has a 100-second time limit, a fraction of the amount of time New Super Mario Bros. U gave to get through its longer levels. You can get more time in certain situations like going into boss fights, but generally you’re constrained to those 100 seconds to get from the start of the level to the end. Considering these levels are often densely designed and have several secrets, including the same three well-hidden star coins in each that the levels in New Super Mario Bros. U had, this turns an otherwise pleasant obstacle course into a stressful ordeal. With the 100-second time, there’s no time to breathe, nevermind actively poking at every corner of the level. This makes the game feel more difficult, but it’s a cheap difficulty that focuses on making you frantic rather than thoughtful.

Same as Mario
The DLC’s structure is identical to New Super Mario Bros. U, down to a world map that doesn’t bother to change at all. You go from area to area, running through levels, then fortresses with a mini-boss, then more levels, then a castle with a main box, until you finally reach the end. Even changing the season on the map and making every non-frozen area look like Autumn (which would have been a fine callback to Super Mario World to boot) would have made the main campaign feel fresh.

The multiplayer mode is slightly changed, because Mario has been replaced by Nabbit, the rabbit thief introduced in New Super Mario Bros. U. Nabbit can’t be hurt by enemies, only environmental hazards, but he can’t use items. He can only be played in the single player mode with a cheat, and considering the (admittedly hilarious) chaos of the multiplayer mode makes pits and players bigger dangers than enemies, he’s not a big addition.

Nintendo doesn’t do DLC often, but it delivered a full, satisfying expansion to New Super Mario Bros. U with New Super Luigi U. It has tons of levels, loads of challenge, and features Luigi as the star. Unfortunately, its time limit and the cheap, stressful sort of challenge it brings holds the otherwise clever levels back, and makes it feel like once again Luigi has gotten the harder, more thankless job than his brother. Luigi walks the same path as Mario, but his steps are much trickier.

Specifications
Genre Action Games
Platform Nintendo Wii U
ESRB Rating E for Everybody

Verdict
New Super Luigi U gives the unsung Mario brother his own side-scrolling action, but it's a lot harder than New Super Mario Bros. U, the game on which this DLC is based..
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