Friends of mine who are much more intelligent than me have been telling me something for a while: New Super Mario Bros U is one of the best Mario games ever. I liked it at the time, for sure, but let's remember what time that was precisely. New Super Mario Bros U was a launch title for the Wii U, a console which arrived with a sense of slight inadequacy. The New Super Mario Bros games had started to grate with a lot of people who wanted more of the Galaxy-style big budget Marios. In my memory, this is that rare thing: a Mario game that came and went without making much of an impact.
This week, though, I returned. I intended to play for a few minutes - I'm talking about the Deluxe version of the game that's available on the Switch here - and it ended up eating a whole afternoon. And I spent that afternoon in a state of wonder. And terror, actually. There's something quietly, cheerily terrifying about 2D Mario games in particular: how can they do so much with so little?
I think of this often in the campaign, which I was not expecting to particularly love. Yes yes, nice power-ups and I still remember that strange thrill of seeing Mario in HD for the first time, with his 2D worlds suddenly seeming vast as well as detailed. But about ten minutes into replaying New Super Mario Bros U this week a level just flattened me.
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