New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is one of the disappointments in my Nintendo Switch collection. I had hoped it would bring me the same joy that Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. did in the past. Instead, I found it punishingly difficult, due to devilishly positioned enemies and a physics engine tailored to make the characters slip off platforms all the time. (Don’t even get me started about the Ghost Houses.) It seems to have been made for players who are so good at Mario games that they are absolutely sick of them and are interested only in an insane challenge.
The developers must have known it was too difficult, because they added two “easy-mode” characters and an option to have Luigi show a sample run of any level and allow you to skip it at the end. Despite these aides, on my first play-though, I stalled out in the middle—I literally could not get through the next level, whichever path I took—and gave it up for a couple years.
Last week, I was thinking about how poorly I fared at New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. I wondered it the reason I found it so difficult was that my Mario skills had atrophied. To test that, I played through Super Mario World, which I have not played in about 15 years. I was able to blow right through it (the Star World levels notwithstanding), so I don’t think my Mario skills are entirely the problem. I expected Super Mario World-level difficulty, but New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a much harder game.
A few days ago I decided I was up for the challenge again, and would play and finish New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe this time, hell or high water. I would not try to collect the three star coins in each level. I would not try hard to find the game’s plentiful secrets. I would even play as the second-easiest character, Toadette, the whole time and use Luigi’s sample runs to skip levels. I am not trying to collect star coins or trying hard to find secrets; I am simply trying to reach the end of each level.
Even with this plan, I have not yet finished it. I am almost at Peach’s castle, which is the last set of levels. I am glad that I finally discovered many of the colorful, creative, and clever bits that the game designers put into the game; in total, however, they fail to delight me. I’m sure that New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a good game, but it is not a good game for me. I am not sure I will ever play the game again after I beat it.