New Super Mario Bros U; Some Necessary Changes to make it even better
As people who’ve been keeping up with the news on the game here at Nintendo 3DS Daily most probably know, New Super Mario Bros U seems to be one of the most drastic shake ups of the New Super Mario Bros formula in the last few years. The graphics have been massively improved and have their own unique charm, the overworld has been changed to a SMW style one and the world themes have finally moved on from Super Mario Bros 3 with a cake themed desert and a world surrounded by a giant tornado among the many highlights.
But even with all that, the game really needs to go just that one step further to be more original and be more like what people expect from a true next gen Mario sidescroller. So here are some changes Nintendo should do to make it even better.
1. Make the Koopalings more unique bosses
Admittedly, New Super Mario Bros Wii and New Super Mario Bros 2 went some way towards doing this, with the different Koopalings getting a slightly different attack pattern and some major variations in design (see, Iggy Koopa’s boss battles in both games or the varied ways in which Ludwig tries to guard the sky world).
But however you look at it, they’re still a bit too similar. They all use magic wands to attack similar to in Super Mario Bros 3. They still almost all go into their shell and spin across the room after every hit and in a good few cases their basic pattern is still ‘run and jump around while ocassionally firing magic bolts’.
Some people would say the best way to fix this is via removing them altogether and coming up with unique bosses, but do you know what?
I think that’s not needed. No, look at Mario and the Sacred Bells, an interesting fan game I came across a few years back:
As you can see, all the bosses are Koopalings, yet thanks to some clever vehicle ideas and gimmicks each and every one is unique and memorable.
Not to mention, all had their own weaknesses, which made it far more interesting than just jumping on Koopaling heads three times in each battle.
That’s what Nintendo needs to do in New Super Mario Bros U, make the Koopalings fight you in unique ways with their own attack patterns and strategies. The very presence of Koopalings isn’t a bad thing, they’re great characters and open up a ton of gameplay and story possibilities.
No, the problem is a lack of variation. The problem is an often found general reluctance to move beyond Super Mario Bros 3 and give them decent attack patterns. If Nintendo made them fight like those fan game versions in the video, I think a lot of arguments about them being dull opponents would be immediately rendered null.
2. Don’t make the final boss Giant Bowser or a chase scene
Because the former has been done to death, and the latter stopped making for an interesting ‘battle’ in the SNES days.
The first one is honestly a bit of a cop out really. Can’t make Bowser interesting to fight with some new attacks or a clever strategy? Just make him fifty foot tall and stand in the background, or chase Mario through his castle. In fact, both of these final boss types were probably chosen because of how simple they were to program rather than how interesting they are as a boss battle, since it lets the developers just draw a giant static image or barely animated character model on a ‘layer’ rather than having to get a cool looking boss working as a proper ‘enemy’.
But back to the point here. Having a non giant/non avoidance/chase scene final boss would be more interesting because Nintendo would have to put some thought into making the battle interesting. If Bowser can’t be relied on as a giant imposing looking target Nintendo would have to vary his attacks and pattern to make him more worthy of the title final boss, like people have done in quite a few fan games:
Basically, a more standard type of boss battle for Bowser (and no, a Bowser bridge doesn’t count) would mean we’d get a more interesting final boss than we would with a giant Bowser background boss fight or a chase scene, and it means we’d finally get a battle which is an actual challenge. Or oh, I don’t know, a battle which is an actual battle.
Heck, maybe they could take some pointers from Kirby final bosses like Marx or Maglador or whatever.
3. Finally make the special world meaningful with a different ending/final boss
It’s been getting there in every game (such as Super Mario 3D Land having multiple secret worlds and New Super Mario Bros 2 having a bonus boss), but New Super Mario Bros U needs to go just one step further and have a different secret final boss and ending, a story based purpose to the entire special world.
Now, I’ll be honest and say this; I don’t care how they go about making the special world more meaningful, but it really needs to be done. Maybe it turns out Bowser isn’t really the final boss and that some mysterious unknown bad guy is behind the series with a bigger plan that involves threatening the Mushroom Kingdom or World, perhaps Bowser comes back for another go with a different attack pattern and story based motivation sometime in world 9.
Why would this be awesome? Well for one thing, we’ve seen it enough in fiction and games based on the series by fans that it’d really be neat to see Nintendo do the same thing. Besides, can you really say this kind of stuff wasn’t pretty cool, at least the first time you saw it?
It also helps keep the game interesting rather than it being yet another ‘Mario beats Bowser’ story. It makes it so the special world actually has a purpose to it and gives people a reason to actually go for 100% completion.
I really hope Nintendo takes notes and includes a real ‘interesting’ special world with unique final level and boss + connections to the storyline this time around. Even more so considering how many wasted opportunities came from New Super Mario Bros 2 not featuring Wario in any way whatsoever despite having the most blatantly overdone gold theme in history.
4. Make Bowser/any villains more threatening in general (and take the story seriously)
No, I’m not talking about over the top Metal Gear Solid type cut scenes or something aka to your standard RPG where the villain makes long speeches about the meanings of life and death, or to even have that much of a story in the game in general.
Just try to avoid writing the story like it’s a complete joke.
Yes, the Mario RPGs get away with humour, but do you know the one key thing about those?
Bowser is rarely if ever the main villain.
Making Bowser an over the top clown is great, if he’s going to blunder through his own adventure and come across the mystical artifacts two chapters after Mario does or end up joining the plumber and co as a reluctant ally in the battle between good and evil.
But when he’s the main antagonist and responsible for the events of the story, making it a bunch of ‘hey, random things happened’ and Bowser as just… there isn’t particularly interesting. Why should we care that Bowser kidnapped Peach if the sole ‘scene’ we see is the Koopalings appearing from a giant birthday cake and running off with her in ten seconds, or if Peach just gets captured in seconds with some remark of ‘Bowser’s probably behind this again’.
Why not play the ‘epic’ side up a bit more like the older games did? Bowser in Super Mario Bros 3, World and 64 wasn’t a joke. Bowser in Super Mario Galaxy 1 wasn’t a joke (Galaxy 2 not so much). He was seen as a somewhat threatening villain and the atmosphere kept tense. Nowadays it’s basically just ‘ha ha this happens for the billionth time, go out platforming’.
Really, it just seems like the two second story making fun of the premise really kills the mood of the New Super Mario Bros games, and I think it’d really be nice to see Bowser as a serious villain and his army as serious threats again like they were prior to about the Gamecube generation. Leave the comedic stuff for the RPGs, not the platformers.
There are obviously many more things that would make New Super Mario Bros U a fantastic game and a much better title than the last few New Super Mario Bros games, but the five or so points above are what I’d call the most important things Nintendo could improve. Level design they’ve got down perfectly, along with gameplay mechanics and general appeal, they just need to improve things like the boss fights, the secret worlds, the somewhat more and more paper thin story and the final boss to make the game a true classic that feels like a real sequel to Super Mario World all those years ago.
Do you agree with my ideas? Would the stuff above improve New Super Mario Bros U?