Nintendo is notorious for taking extra steps to make its games more accessible to players of all ages and skill levels. This approach is particularly prevalent in re-released titles on Nintendo Switch, which includes a plethora of them. A relatively recent example is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, which introduced Funky Kong as a playable character for anyone seeking a “more casual gaming experience,” by allowing you to literally hover over obstacles to avoid a challenge. Similarly, Toadette is the main highlight of New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe and the primary element that differentiates the Switch port from the Wii U original.
Toadette mysteriously replaces Blue Toad from the get-go and has an advantage that the other playable characters don’t have – the Super Crown power-up. This special item enables Toadette to somehow transform into another being known as Peachette. Aside from resembling the princess of Mushroom Kingdom herself, Peachette can double-jump and float over obstacles. As you would expect, her principal purpose is to provide beginners with an easier experience. And an easier experience you will get. Super Crowns are pretty common, so you can find them in several locations throughout courses.
But what about veteran players who already trekked through the original? I was among the many who found every Star Coin back then, so my choice this time around was Toadette. If you choose to play as her, you may never see the Game Over screen, as it’s incredibly easy to stay alive and gain extra lives. I played as her for the sole intention of varied gameplay and to attempt to mix things up. But it turns out that it proved not to be all that different. The Super Crown is basically a lavished-up hybrid of the Propeller Mushroom and Super Acorn power-ups, which still exist but are harder to find by comparison. It feels more like a visual facelift than anything. It doesn’t quite make sense and makes me look back at the vague explanation for why Peach wasn’t playable in the first place.
With that being said, I wish the Super Crown influenced the other playable characters’ gameplay and appearances. It would’ve been cool if it gave a unique Peach-inspired ability and image to each hero. For example, it could have granted Mario with turnips to toss at enemies; Luigi could have been given a parasol to float over hazards; and Toad could have been able to summon Peach temporarily to protect himself from enemies (AKA payback from being used yet again in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate). They could have all worn dresses, too, as that would be something Mario isn’t uncomfortable doing. While these concepts are nowhere to be found, they haven’t stopped fans from coming up with their own wild creations. And, yes, we do have to mention Bowsette, who may very well be the star of the show despite not actually existing.
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is essentially the same as the 2012 title, but it comes bundled with New Super Luigi U – a similar yet separate platformer that was also initially released on Wii U. New Super Luigi U is designed to be tricker but has shorter stages that are typically smoother to breeze through if you don’t care about collecting all the Star Coins. Levels are also faster-paced, with a 100-second time limit in each one that tests your in-game ninja skills. Both feature a clean, streamlined overworld map that’s simple and straightforward to follow when selecting which direction to take, placing more of a focus on the core platforming action. It’s something we’ve seen before, but it’s still one of the key strengths of the entire package.
You can play as Nabbit in both adventures to make things even easier, as he can run straight through all enemies without getting a single scratch. All you have to worry about is jumping between gaps to avoid losing a life. Since he is unable to use power-ups of any kind, Nabbit fails to offer the full Super Mario Bros. experience, but he’s a welcome addition for anyone who wants to play through the same courses with a younger or less-adept buddy. He’ll also be appreciated by novice speedrunners who prefer to have fewer obstacles blocking their path.
The lack of new content is accompanied by the absence of online features. It’s a bummer that you still can’t play multiplayer with your faraway friends. This is something that could have worked in the original, but its omission is more questionable now with Nintendo’s continuous push of Nintendo Switch Online. Heck, even the 30-year-old NES games have been enhanced with online features, so why can’t a more modern Nintendo game provide the same? Ghost data from other players is also nonexistent, so you can’t race against them to at least get the simulation of going head-to-head with someone else.
Despite the exclusion of online features and fresh content, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a sizeable collection that offers one of the most solid platforming experiences of the current decade. If you’re a newcomer, it could provide numerous hours of excitement for you and your local friends. It’s a fun game for sure, but for someone who spent a good amount of time exploring every nook and cranny of the original a few years ago, it will most likely feel all too familiar.
A review copy of New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe on Nintendo Switch was provided by Nintendo UK.