'New Super Luigi U"
Platform: Wii U
ESRB Rating: E, for Everyone
Grade: 4 stars (out of 5)
I'm not sure I will ever let my wife play "New Super Luigi U."
No, this is no rejection of the game. I'm just not sure I can deal with her peppering me with questions about the fate of Luigi's brother -- and my wife's personal gaming hero -- Mario.
You see, "New Super Luigi U" doesn't simply put Luigi in the spotlight. Other games for the Wii and 3DS have done that successfully. Instead, Nintendo remade the wildly popular "New Super Mario Bros." game for the Wii U with Luigi as the star -- and Mario oddly (and eerily) missing.
The opening scenes match "New Super Mario" almost exactly, except you see Mario's cap as resting in the place he normally sat. Pay attention throughout levels of the game, and you'll notice hedges, ice sculptures and other statuesque homages to the longtime star of the Nintendo franchise. "Bros." is blatantly X-ed out of the game's cover. Is Mario dead? Did Bowser kill him? Did he take one too many tumbles down one of the game's infamous black voids, never to return? Worse still, did Luigi play a role? These are the scenarios I'd be defending to my wife, and I'd prefer to avoid her going crazy that Nintendo went all "Breaking Bad" with its most famous character.
The action gets noticeably different from the original game once you start bounding about the Mushroom Kingdom. Luigi, as series fans know, sports green overalls and jumps farther and higher than his brother. This makes for new and interesting tactics throughout each level. Mario jumped with more precision and speed, while Luigi at times floats through levels, narrowly missing the chomp of a Piranha Plant or the spikes of a Koopa.
With Luigi lacking the stopping and starting power of his brother, this means more deaths but also more exhilarating runs through levels. Hitting the right spots on cleverly designed platforms and collecting the right amount of star coins in the nick of time left me cheering more than once.
Luigi not only takes a starring role, but shows how radically different his playing style affects the unfolding of classic levels, and the newly designed areas complement his moves while never taking you away from the fun. And if Mario has indeed fallen to the hands of Bowser, 1) I sure as heck want to see that game; and 2) Luigi's hellbent M-rated revenge tale also warrants developing.