Just How Strong Are Your Friendships?

E3 2012: Why New Super Mario Bros. U's newest feature might also be its most divisive.

New Super Mario Bros. U doesn't work cooperatively. When you throw multiple players into a tightly structured world, with enemies jumping around and intricately placed platforms floating just out of easy reach, only bad things can happen. Mario and Toad might both lunge for a power-up at the same time and collide in midair, and the fungal one gets killed by a passing goomba. Or maybe Mario accidentally jumps into Luigi from below, launches the younger brother unexpectedly into the air, and then sends the green guy sailing into the abyss.

New Super Mario Bros. U doesn't work cooperatively because there are no co-op mechanics. Even two equally talented and willing players will inevitable kill each other, no matter how much they try not to, because that's the nature of trying to harmoniously leap around an ever-changing environment.

What NSMBU does do, maybe exceptionally well, is allow particularly malevolent players to cause untold grief to their friends and frenemies. This concept is nothing new for people who sunk hours into playing/fighting with their pals in NSMB Wii, but it becomes readily apparent early on in that adventure that destructive play is just as agonizing for yourself as it is to the people you're trying to cause pain to. Nintendo has given you a way out of this tormenting loop.

Four players can still jump around with uneasy enjoyment using the Wii Remote flipped on its side, just like they could in NSMB Wii, and there's little difference between the anything-goes craziness that happens when four players try to achieve the same goal in unison. However, there is one sizable change that brings virtual harassment to a new level. A fifth player can use the GamePad to join in the fun. No, this doesn't let you control a previously hidden-away fifth Mario brother (Peabo?). Rather, you assume the role of an all-powerful god.

Boost mode, as Nintendo calls it, allows the player holding the GamePad to place blocks in the environment just by tapping the screen. If you're in a helpful mood, you could use these blocks to aid struggling players so they can cross dangerous pits or reach dizzying heights without exerting much effort. This is a great way to introduce inexperienced players to the often challenging world of Mario platforming, so there is a definite place in Nintendo's ever-expanding audience for such a feature. But for those who were weaned on Mario Bros. and don't require such coddling, the ability to drop blocks wherever you please opens new avenues of schadenfreude.

As Mario, Luigi, and two different-colored Toads run around onscreen, you change the obstacles they face in real time with a tap of your finger. You can pick one player to torment if you choose, ensure a wall of blocks appear in front of Mario at inopportune places in unexpected moments, and generally be the nuisance you've always wanted to be. Or you can spread your terror around the screen. Maybe put a block in front of Luigi one moment and then freak out Blue Toad with a brick the next.

In addition to placing blocks, you can stun and then juggle enemies by tapping on them. Like the bricks, this is a feature that is intended to help struggling players, but it only adds to the chaos for a well-meaning griefer. Mario is going to find it a lot harder to maintain his balance on a rotating wheel when a koopa troopa keeps flashing in front of his path.

The ability to interact with the world while perched in a safe place makes for some explosively entertaining situations. Remember the old Bugs Bunny cartoon called Duck Amuck? In it, Daffy Duck is tormented by an unseen artist who keeps messing with the drawing without any repercussions. This is the video game equivalent of that classic cartoon. But just like trying to play competitively in NSMB Wii required discretion or else you would receive an abrupt game over, so too do you need a delicate touch playing the grief master in NSMBU. You don't want to kill your friends, after all, because that would end your fun as well. So you push them just far enough to annoy them without finishing them off, and then give a helping hand when they're just about to quit in frustration. It's a delicate balance.

The most difficult part of NSMBU is keeping friendships in the midst of the unrelenting grief you're causing. Just know that when the stage ends, you have to switch with another player, and you can expect to get the brunt of the brick-based warfare if you were a particularly nasty jerk. But all is fair in love and war. Whether you try to help or hinder your friends, New Super Mario Bros. U is a lot of fun, but it's hard to deny the potential for this new style of tormenting your buddies.

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Discussion

155 comments
wiserat4
wiserat4

@TomMcShea

"...you can just call him the jerk who hates all the things you love and loves all the things you hate."

 

Wow this really doesn't make me want to read anything Tom has to say.  You're better than this Tom. This is not good journalism... what kind of message are you trying give with editor introductions such as this.  Do you hate your job? Are you feeling sorry for yourself?  Kevin VanOrd said being a journalist involves having tough skin, but this just sounds like pure defeat.  Again, you are better than this.

superxtreme101
superxtreme101

"Killing each other" but that's what I love the most, good for laughs just hope your friends don't rage. If your not taking it seriously then it would be fun to troll your buddies every once in a while with block spamming. LOL

Supremesquirtle
Supremesquirtle

glad i wasn't the only one who thought something was off with the title and the picture of toad and baby yoshi

websitewill
websitewill

And the homepage caption "newest feature might also be its most divisive". I'll say...

Ohh, and great placement with the "Show me more" link below it.

I think this was more than simple coincidence. :)

thefloorhugger
thefloorhugger

I almost feel out of my chair when i saw the picture it was to funny 

dlM0kn
dlM0kn

everything I knew about toad and yoshi is destroyed. Great pic choice Gamespot. For one second, u didn't think there was something wrong with it?

Dreammosaic
Dreammosaic

I am so glad I am not the only one who saw the picture in that way. Very sick, very very sick. And yummy!

Giantess
Giantess

Of all the pictures you had to have Toad doing something horribly... HORRIBLY WRONG!

Raziel_0
Raziel_0

im the only one who clicked just to se full pic? lol

sdoxas
sdoxas

Guys, I saw the full picture.  Blue Toad isn't giving Blue Yoshi a mushroom.  Whew!

Adenosine
Adenosine

Call me childish but when I saw that picture of Toad and the Yoshi thing....just wow lol!

Scynt
Scynt

Wait, this article ISN'T about homosexual intercourse being introduced into SSB?

SiKh22
SiKh22

bad picture man, how could you not think people weren't going to comment on that instead of the article? What's worse, the picture is cut off on the main homepage which makes it even worse. 

MGSKojima
MGSKojima

Tell me Yoshi....did you like it?

Dikkgozinya
Dikkgozinya

Am I the only one who instantly thought "cool we can pick up baby yoshi's again?"

SnakeEyesX80
SnakeEyesX80

WOW, did they really use the weird picture of toad and yoshi? It looks really bad.

Gekko135
Gekko135

Lovin how the majority of the comments are regarding the thumbnail. And the article headline doesn't help either. lol

shadow580
shadow580

I bet Gamespot is deliberately toying with us by cropping that thumbnail. Or maybe my collection of JRPGs is beginning to affect me :)

ad0234
ad0234

The massive chaos that takes place in New Super Mario Bros Wii is just part of the fun in my opinion, can't wait to get my hands on this game.

chapan17
chapan17

Anyone else think if on the outside thumbnail picture you place a "brazzers" logo it could be widely misunderstood and inapropriate? lol

 

houshidar
houshidar

Rule of thumb, what ever Tom Mc Shea says... do the opposite.

HonorOfGod
HonorOfGod

LOL the picture to this article.. I saved a screen shot.

NTM23
NTM23

The picture on the front page that leads to this doesn't look right.

nini200
nini200

And you all say Nintendo isn't Hardcore

nini200
nini200

 @ad0234 Just like Toad couldn't wait to get his hands on Yoshi.  LOL

Kaiinel
Kaiinel

 @nini200 

They aren't.

And that's one of the reasons why I love them.

everyday182
everyday182

 @Falru I only clicked the link because i thought nintendo had slipped to an all time low to get attention in there games ^_^!

SnakeEyesX80
SnakeEyesX80

@phatsanta

Dude, it looks like Toad is giving it to Yoshi from behind. That's a horrible picture to use if you cut most of the bottom of it off like Gamespot did.

sdoxas
sdoxas

 @ABEzilla116 Grew up in the 90's.  Had a super Nintendo.  I thought EVERYthing about it.

: 3

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

Play the old River City Ransom hack with nude characters and then tell me that.

Fallout_red
Fallout_red

 @Kaiinel I don't think you got his point about word "hardcore" and the header picture of this article.

nini200
nini200

 @Fallout_red Yep.  Flew completely over their heads LOL Oh wait, I dun done it again LOL