At E3 2012 Nintendo of America's Reggie Fils-Aime stated that Nintendo gamers want Mario at a system's launch, and that's what was given with New Super Mario Bros. U, the latest in the re-born 2D series. After a notably mixed reaction among Nintendo gamers to New Super Mario Bros. 2 on 3DS, the home console entry brought some system-specific innovations, new modes and some exceptional level design.
Naturally, with the tally of "New" 2D Mario games continually increasing, there are question-marks over maintaining originality and keeping platforming fans hooked and keen to play the next game. Speaking to IGN, director Masataka Takemoto and producer Takashi Tezuka explained how the development team are continually seeking a balance between innovation and maintaining popular series traditions.
Takemoto: When we finished [New Super Mario Bros. Wii] up, we thought,"It's gonna be hard to add any new features to this." Once we started fleshing out the next concept, though, we realized that we could still come up with new ideas for [New Super Mario Bro. U]. Right now, I can't really say what might come next, but I think we'll still manage to find new stuff for the series. I think that innovation is important, but it can't be something that destroys the core fun that defines Mario in 2D. We need innovation that retains 2D Mario's play sensation.
Tezuka: Of course we devote resources on measures to take advantage of a platform's features and capabilities, but with a 2D Mario, we don’t want to lose the foundation that so many players already know and love. I think that sense of security helps the team feel like they've got some breathing room to work with as they come up with ideas.
Players keep on playing Mario, after all, precisely because it's easily understandable in a very unique way. That's a strength that's hard to imitate for games with shorter heritages, and it's something I think we need to keep cherishing.
Nintendo hasn't finished with New Super Mario Bros. U, of course, with New Super Luigi U arriving as a substantial DLC offering later this year. While some may be irritated by the "New" branding or feel that we've seen an awful lot of 2D Mario, it remains one Nintendo's most lucrative and popular franchises.
What do you think of these comments from Masataka Takemoto and Takashi Tezuka? Do you think New Super Mario Bros. U lives up to expectations, and do you like the new features that the team introduced, such as Boost Mode and the demanding Challenge Mode? Feel free to sound off in the comments below.