This article originally appeared in Nintendo Gamer magazine.
Good job Nintendo thought to put the word "New" in the title of New Super Mario Bros U, because otherwise we might mistake it for one of the least original ideas they've come up with in years.
As a bunch of unashamed Mario devotees, it gives us no pleasure to say so: there was a time when each new side-scrolling Mario platformer filled us with excitement before we even got our hands on it. But for the first time in our lives with a Mario title, we found ourselves treating New Super Mario Bros like any other game.
We should have been more excited when we went hands-on with it for the first time - after all, it's the first ever HD Mario game and only the eighth time in Nintendo's history that we were getting our first taste of a brand new side-scrolling Mario console game.
But what we got just felt so similar to New Super Mario Bros Wii that we couldn't find it in us to scream uncontrollably at the top of our lungs, throw our waste at passers-by and peel strips off the wallpaper so we could use them as makeshift tissues and weep uncontrollably into them. You know, all the things we usually do when a new Mario game comes out.
GOOD OLD MARIO
But "not new" doesn't always mean "not good", and when what you're retreading is as brilliant as New Super Mario Bros Wii, it actually means "really pretty bloody excellent". So despite the disappointment of our first impressions, let's not get too carried away with the doom and gloom.
There's no real need to worry, because New Super Mario Bros U is still a fantastic game. It retains those perfectly tuned Mario platforming physics and it's still brilliant fun in either single-player or multiplayer mode, just as New Super Mario Bros Wii was. But that's because it essentially is New Super Mario Bros Wii, albeit a scrubbed-up version with different levels.
And though that scrubbing up is rather lightweight it's also very welcome, with a few choice additions that really do help to make the game feel a little fresher. The new Assist Play feature lets an extra player take control of the Wii U GamePad and spawn floating solid blocks by simply tapping on the touchscreen. There's a limit to the number of blocks you can create and they disappear after a set time, but you can still make a substantial impact on proceedings if you place them cleverly enough.