This time, short of running off with Princess Peach, Bowser has simply thrown Mario out of her castle, therefore forcing our hero to trudge through the Mushroom Kingdom to come to her aid.
The designers take the opportunity presented to them by Nintendo’s new hardware to paint beautiful backdrops and create some truly memorable levels to explore – the best being a Van Gogh inspired jungle. While the return of Yoshi, Mario’s dinosaur helper, is a welcome addition.
Yoshi is actually joined by infant versions of himself this time, who must be carried (rather that ridden) through levels, with each lending their unique power to Mario. Red coloured versions inflating like balloons to carry Mario through the air, blue version producing enemy-trapping bubbles and yellow lighting up even the darkest cave.
Mario is also granted a new power by way of the squirrel suit which lets him glide through the air and cling to walls. A fun, if not quite classic, variation on the similar cape of Super Mario World and Tanooki suit of Super Mario Bros. 3.
Four-player mode (last seen in New Super Mario Bros. Wii) returns but remains as problematic as ever. Characters will continually rebound off each other regardless of skill and, beyond the first few more basic levels, difficulty is such that playing with others only results in frustration.
A fifth player can at least try to lend a hand by creating platforms on the GamePad, but this only ever feels like a last minute gimmick. The fact that that those same platforms can quite easily trap players and so force them to an early demise being something of a giveaway.
On its single-player merits alone however New Super Mario Bros. U represents a fine day one purchase and a return to form for the ‘New’ series.
Format: Wii U