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New Super Mario Bros. U: Hands-on with the Wii U E3 demo

Squirrel Suits, inflatable Yoshi's and touch-screen blocks spice up a familiar formula

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We asked if Yoshi will be ridable in the final game. "We're not talking about that at this time," replied the rep. Boo.

We blasted through all three stages with ease - the trickiest part featuring some star-shaped platforms that rotate on a central axis when Mario stands on them.

The final 'Big New Thing' was Boost mode - a sort of semi-multiplayer mode that has one player controlling Mario as usual with a sideways-turned Wii Remote, and the other player tapping the screen on the Wii U tablet to create a physical block anywhere in the level.

This simple mechanic provided a number of interesting possibilities. The obvious one is to provide assistance - you can place steps up to ledges or block off deadly chasms with a few quick taps of the screen. Tapping enemies also kills them. We imaging this would be especially handy when letting a younger one have a go, providing passive assistance as they fumble their way through the levels with a sense of self-achievement.

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You can also just jab all over the screen in an effort to kill Mario, and a fun little rivalry can be had with that. But most interesting to us was when the Nintendo rep said hardcore gamers (and, probably, the developers at Nintendo) can and will certainly use this mechanic to achieve some rather impressive speed runs. We can't wait to see those.

So it's more 2D Mario - which is never a bad thing. It's not so surprising that little has changed since the Wii and DS games, but perhaps more of a surprise that Nintendo would choose to launch two New Super Mario Bros. games so close to each other (New Super Mario Bros. 2 is out on 3DS in August, and we expect the Wii U game will arrive alongside the console later this year).

Will Nintendo fans buy into two such similar games in so small a timeframe?

Our friends over at at Official Nintendo Magazine have also been taking a look at Nintendo's newest Wii U offering, be sure to check their Super Mario Bros. U preview for even more details

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