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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.
"...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.
"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
glad i wasn't the only one who thought something was off with the title and the picture of toad and baby yoshi
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. :)
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?
I am so glad I am not the only one who saw the picture in that way. Very sick, very very sick. And yummy!
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.
Lovin how the majority of the comments are regarding the thumbnail. And the article headline doesn't help either. lol
I bet Gamespot is deliberately toying with us by cropping that thumbnail. Or maybe my collection of JRPGs is beginning to affect me :)
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.
Anyone else think if on the outside thumbnail picture you place a "brazzers" logo it could be widely misunderstood and inapropriate? lol
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