To commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of Luigiâ€™s first appearance in the 1983 arcade game Mario Bros, Nintendo has dubbed 2013 the Year of Luigi. This means all sorts of Luigi themed events, games, and collectibles spread out across the year.
Among them? New Super Luigi U, a â€śfull game DLCâ€ť package for New Super Mario Bros U that finally lets the tall, green-clad brother be the hero who saves Princess Peach. Rather than just being a standard content pack with a few extra levels, Luigi U lets you play through Mario U in its entirety as Luigi, with all 82 levels redesigned to offer new challenges suited to Luigiâ€™s unique abilities.
At its core, Luigi U is basically a more challenging variant of what players experienced in New Super Mario Bros U (NSMBU.) The world map remains the same, but all the levels have been completely redesigned to be much tougher, and this design is easily the best part of Luigiâ€™s new adventure.
Nintendoâ€™s 30 years of experience with the platformer genre really shows, with puzzles that are as varied as they are formidable. The new courses really force you bring everything you have to the table, but theyâ€™re short and sweet enough that dying as you try and overcome each hurdle - something that will happen a lot - is not too much of a hassle.
The new stages also do a great job of harkening back to the originals from NSMBU upon which theyâ€™re based, using the same themes as the originals to create new challenges. For example, both titles feature a course in the Layer-Cake Desert world, designed around jumping between moving platforms while dodging rocks thrown by Stone Spike koopas, but thereâ€™s much less breathing room in Luigiâ€™s variant than in Marioâ€™s.
Sadly, the excellence of the levels is often overshadowed by other factors that turn an otherwise exciting and demanding platformer into an exercise in tedium. Oddly enough, one of these problems is what has been a selling point for Luigi U since it was first announced - Luigiâ€™s trademark awkward controls. His jumps are floaty, and he accelerates and decelerates much, much slower than Short Red; as a result youâ€™ll die just as much from unresponsive controls sending you flying into a chasm as you do from being outsmarted by a fiendishly clever platforming puzzle. This definitely adds an extra level of difficulty to the game, but not the good kind, and the lack of responsiveness only gets more frustrating as you progress.
The other major problem is the save system. While Nintendoâ€™s apparent obsession with sparse save points was mildly annoying in Mario Bros U, in Luigiâ€™s adventure it becomes downright horrid. The overall difficulty of the DLC, both good and bad, means that youâ€™ll be dying a lot as you try and figure each level out. This wouldnâ€™t be at all a problem - the levels are short enough that having to restart from the beginning is not an issue - except that, with limited lives, sooner or later youâ€™ll get that awful Game Over screen sending you back to your last save, which was likely a few levels ago. Nothing kills that â€śJust one more try!â€ť reflex that a well designed challenge elicits more than having to grind your way through content youâ€™ve already cleared just to get back to the obstacle at hand.
One of the best parts of NSMBU was the multiplayer mode, which makes its triumphant return in Luigi U. While I havenâ€™t personally tried it (due to some combination of a lack of controllers and friends...), it functions exactly the same as in the original game, so I see no reason why it shouldnâ€™t be just as much fun on Luigiâ€™s frantic new levels.
Given that this is Luigiâ€™s adventure, Mario has been replaced as a playable character by Nabbit, that annoying little rabbit thing from NSMBU that kept stealing stuff from Toad Houses. He controls more or less the same as Luigi, but has one very unique perk that makes him a good choice for beginner players - he is completely invincible to enemies. Nabbit is also playable in single player mode with a not-too-hard-to-discover cheat, which can be handy if you get stuck on a level.
New Super Luigi U is rather expansive for a DLC package, essentially giving fans of the original game 82 new courses to test their mettle. There are no Challenge or Boost Rush modes, but other features like Toad House minigames, hunting Nabbit (when youâ€™re not playing as him), and Star Coin collections are all present to help stretch out your playtime even further.
With that said, at $49.95, Luigi U is still pretty steep as far as DLC goes, and itâ€™s probably not vital unless you really love the original game and just canâ€™t get enough. Thereâ€™s a standalone version coming out on July 27, which will feature both the original levels from Mario Bros. U and Luigiâ€™s new ones. However, if you donâ€™t yet have NSMBU, thatâ€™s probably a better option than the retail Luigi U release, as it is a more complete overall experience; the New Super Luigi U DLC will be waiting for you if you feel the need to swallow the green pill later on and dial the difficulty up to 11.