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New Super Mario Bros U: Fresh new thrills?

It's pretty good, it stars you-know-who and it's on Wii U - but is this really anything new?

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You can also turn left and right in the Squirrel Suit, something that was impossible with the cape. It's conceivable, then, that with a bit of skill, you could complete whole levels in the air - which is why it's unsurprising that in the Squirrel Suit level we played, Nintendo had tucked loads of goodies up in the sky to reward our aerial skills and keep us occupied up there in the clouds.

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As well as the Squirrel Suit, there are also various baby Yoshis lying around who each have their own powers too. It remains to be seen if they can be fed and turned into regular Yoshis as they could be in Super Mario World, but they're useful enough at the moment as it is.

Grabbing a purple one and flicking the controller or pressing the ZR button will make them inflate and quickly boost into the sky (again, like the Propeller Suit), with you hanging on to their tail. Blue ones spit out enemy-trapping bubbles, making them a kind of reptilian gun; and yellow ones provide light in underground stages, like a friendly (if somewhat scaly) torch.

SAFETY FIRST

But above all else, New Super Mario Bros U feels like a safe launch game for Nintendo. Nintendo desperately need to have a Mario game to accompany Wii U out of the traps, and a shined up version of New Super Mario Bros Wii requires a lot less development time than a completely new 3D Super Mario would have done. The engine, the character models - even much of the music - were already in place, and the powerups we've seen so far are mostly revamped versions of previous ones from Mario's long and inventive history.

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In the past, when Nintendo have shown off a couple of levels from its new Mario games, we've come away thinking "that was good but it seems too easy and unoriginal" - only for the full game to blow us away. That's how we felt with Super Mario 3D Land, and New Super Mario Bros Wii. The fact that we feel this way right now could just a sign of how high our expectations are, while experience tells us that Nintendo will go all out to satisfy.

We're hopeful, then, that while New Super Mario Bros U hasn't rocked our socks yet, we may still need to take a trip to Primark and stock up on them anyway just in case. Of course, it also still remains to be seen how the Miiverse functionality will work, but for now New Super Mario Bros U is guaranteed to be great fun and offer lots of laughs. It's definitely a worthy launch title - it's just not necessarily guaranteed to take any risks or surprise you.

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