Downloadable… Expansion? Expansionloadable Content? Whatever it is, it’s legit.
by Randy Marr
Nintendo has a history of being genre-defining, especially in the realm of platformers. It’s hard to argue that Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario 64 didn’t set the bar for quality adventures about jumping on things. Every title in the series thereafter seems to push that bar a little more. Every game, that is, except for those with the words “New Super Mario Bros.” in it. Sure, the first one on DS was a breath of fresh air, but it’s been pretty stale since. They’re by no means bad games; they just doesn’t quite leave you a quivering mass begging for more. The poorly named New Super Luigi U, however, seeks to bring the series back to where it began: setting the bar for quality.
At first glance, it’s hard not to roll your eyes. In less than a year we’ve had New Super Mario Bros. 2 (Actually the 3rd game in the series), and New Super Mario Bros Wii U. So maybe you’re at your wits end with red-hatted jumpers; and there’s not a court in the world that would convict you. But New Super Luigi U is different, if nothing else than from a business angle. It makes gold coins and sense.
New Super Luigi U gives you double your game, for a third of your price. Here’s how it goes: you’ve already bought New Super Mario Bros. U for $60 and you had your fun. The challenge mode was a neat addition, it flashes back to a Super Mario World style overworld map, and there were even a few pleasant surprises in the story. Then along comes New Super Luigi U. For just $20 bucks, you get a brand new adventure. Sure, whatever thinly veiled scraps of story that even existed are still there, sans the red hatted plumber. The overworld map is the same for those who memorized every cranny. But each one of those 80+ dots on the map have become an entirely new level to explore. These aren’t just remixes; these are brand new ideas and designs. Thus, you get the the same amount of gameplay from New Super Mario Bros. Wii U, for only an additional $20.
For most games, DLC implies a new character, horse armor, or maybe even a cute piece of story content. For some games (Mass Effect), that content can be better than 90% of the original game. Usually, you fill fairly satisfied. You probably have some neat new weapons to take back to your main game, or a few new achievements. When was the last time you bought content like that that lasted more than 5 hours? And how much more? And was it doubling the amount of game content you owned previously? Nintendo has done what Nintendo used to do and set the bar, this time on what it means to be downloadable content.
I’d almost want to call this an expansion pack, judging by the $20 price tag and extensive amount of content… but even those only ended up being a fragment of the same content of the original game, and usually were more about continuing the story in a small way. New Super Luigi U isn’t satisfied with that. It wants you to have twice as much fun. It doesn’t hurt that, from a gameplay perspective, it is twice as much fun.
The genius in the design is where the developers created a mad-cap game with tighter, more challenging levels designed to be defeated in less than 99 Mario Seconds (Because I don’t know what else to call that obscure measurement of time). It’s about being fast, but careful, and it’s exactly what the series needs to bring back. It feels like some of the best Super Mario Bros. 3 ideas, put into a world with crazy physics and penguin suits. And where games like Ms. ‘Splosion Man have decided that dragging your level out to be 15 to 20 minutes is the best way to design your game, Nintendo’s EAD team knows that it’s short, sweet bursts of levels that truly keep you hungry for more.
The inclusion of Nabbit as a replacement for Mario was actually rather clever. In my case, my future-husband, Mike, isn’t the best at platformers. He often stops playing with me because he feels like he’s getting in my way. (Also because I’m an asshole to play any game with at all.) This changes that formula, because Nabbit, you see, is immortal. He cannot be harmed by anything other than falling down a pit. The trade off is that he doesn’t get to collect power-ups. It’s a little give and take that allows lesser-skilled players to stay apart of the action without having to be upsetting to the control-freak who’s running Luigi.
As a side note, the game is being sold independently of the DLC platform in about a month. You can go into a store and buy it on a disc for $30. Anyway, the reason I bring it up, is that if you haven’t picked up New Super Mario Bros. Wii U because you’re feeling Mario Fatigue, feel free to skip it. Pay a third of the price for the better half of the content.
New Super Luigi U is where the tightest gameplay from a Mario Game in years is coming from. The price isn’t out to destroy your wallet. I still don’t know that I want to call it DLC or an Expansion Pack. I guess, in the literal sense of the words, it is. But this content is showing that there’s so much more you can do with your game. In a world where publishers are so worried about used games and pirating, the best argument is right here. It’s not with customer-harming DRM or Online Passes; it’s coming out with amazing content and value like this that will give people the trust and the satisfaction that your product will only continue to grow in value down the road.
That’s my thought on the DLC content. What does my gorgeous readership think? Is this a good trend? Do we not like this? Isn’t Luigi just the best? Chatter away down in the boxes below!