New Super Mario Bros. Mii was among the tech demos designed to show off the capabilities of the Wii U that Reggie Fils-Aime mentioned during the Nintendo press conference this morning, and we got our hands on it at the Nintendo booth this afternoon.
As its title suggests, this demo is very much in the mold of Nintendo's 2009 side-scrolling platformer, New Super Mario Bros. Wii. The clearest difference between that game and this one is that here, you can play as a Mii, though you can also choose to play as Mario, Luigi or Toads of various colors. Our time with the game was spent playing with three other players, and we confirmed one thing for certain: As in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, other players here are much more likely to be a hindrance than a help. With four players running and leaping across the screen, it's very difficult to stay out of the way of others. Thus, we often found ourselves colliding with other players in midair and falling to our demise. Of course, you can have some fun deliberately making things harder for your fellow players, but a team of four that spends its time working against each other isn't likely to make it very far.
We used the Wii U's tablet controller while other players used Wii Remotes. The screen on the tablet seemed to display exactly what was onscreen. We were able to use the tablet controller's touch screen to choose a character and a stage before play began. But after that, we used the D pad and buttons to move and jump--just like our remote-wielding friends. As a result, New Super Mario Bros. Mii didn't seem to highlight any unique strengths of the Wii U.
Aside from the larger controller with a screen on it and the opportunity to play as Miis, the game felt extremely familiar. Aside from being in HD, the visuals looked essentially indistinguishable from those of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and the levels we got to dash through were challenging, with quickly moving platforms and tricky jumps galore. We had fun with the demo, but we didn't feel that it was a particularly strong showcase for the Wii U's technology, at least at this stage. New Super Mario Bros. Mii may just be a tech demo that will never be seen again, but if this turns out not to be the last we see of it, we'll bring you more information on it as it becomes available.