Nintendo has declared 2013 the 'Year of Luigi'. And while that effort has included a couple of genuinely excellent games so far - the brilliant Luigi's Mansion 2 and the upcoming Mario & Luigi: Dream Team - it's really coming to fruition with New Super Luigi U, a 'reimagining' DLC pack (£17.99 from eShop) for the WIi U's launch title New Super Mario Bros U.
While the Luigi version of the game uses the same building blocks and essential level design as the older title, it actually takes place in 80 new stages that are both shorter and far more difficult.
With the timer cut to 100 seconds, most levels have to be completed in a single go, with mistakes relentlessly punished and power-ups relatively hard to come by.
At first, this shift in mechanics feels like a neat and fun twist on the established Mario gameplay, harkening back to the NES and SNES games. But by the latter stages of Luigi U, it also feels a bit sadistic. This is a hard game. Luigi can jump higher and slide further than Mario, but he's also more difficult to control and Nintendo's level designers give no quarter to errors. It's fun and challenging - but like the best platformers games, it can also get really quite annoying.
Luckily, one of the other major additions gives lower-level gamers a bit of a helping hand - namely, the new playable character, Nabbit. This is the same pink rabbit that Mario had to chase through certain levels of the original, and this time around he's almost invincible to most enemies and attacks leaving gamers little to do except keep moving forward and jump over the bigger pits. It makes the game easy enough to complete - but does take away the point somewhat.
If you liked New Super Mario Bros U, there is a lot to get out of the Luigi DLC. And it points to an intriguing future for Nintendo, where key titles can be expanded more quickly and more cost-effectively than ever (Luigi Kart 8 anyone?)
Just be aware that this isn't as easy as it looks. Luigi has always been a coward - this game makes you realise why.
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