Why New Super Mario Bros. U’s World Map’s is so exciting

In advance of Wii U’s Big RevealTM next Wednesday – where Nintendo will presumably also unzip third party Wii U developers’ mouths – the gaming world learned of a few new interesting tidbits today. Any morsel thrown our way by Nintendo is more than a mere tidbit, though. It turns out that New Super Mario Bros. U will feature a Mario World-style map screen. Yes!

As revealed in the latest issue of Game Informer, Mario Bros. U’s levels will be littered across a single map, Super Mario World-style, seeing New Super Mario Bros. finally ditch the smaller, more linear overworlds first introduced in Super Mario Bros. 3 and subsequently used in all current series entries.

Joining this setup are new, player selectable branching paths – presumably leading you through to different sectors of the world. We’re hoping these also form the basis of extra routes accessed through secret exits. Knowing we may have 40 or so secret exits to discover (each revealing their own intertwined pathways on the map) makes us feel all warm inside.

The locations within this huge, sprawling map also follow on from Super Mario World’s lineage – Nintendo have given us Acorn Plains, a Frosted Glacier, a world made out of cakes and desserts, Sparkling Waters, and even throwbacks to Forest of Illusion and Mario Bros 3′s Sky World. Much better than the typical land, desert, water, ice, forest, mountain themes that adorned previous New Super Mario Bros titles.

This would be Acorn Plains, then. Nintendo still haven’t offered us a glimpse of this cake-themed level we think will have us desperately wanting to lick our GamePads.

We couldn’t be more excited – and happy. With Wii U, Nintendo finally move New Super Mario Bros. into more ambitious territory. The series has remained mostly static and Super Mario Bros. 3 obsessed since its introduction in 2006, and while that’s no bad thing, we expected by the time New Super Mario Bros. 2 dropped by (and six years later) as ace as its coin rush mode is.

It has been frustrating to see Nintendo ignore so many of the neat touches and innovations that made Super Mario World such a boundless, limitless game to get absorbed in. It even seemed a bit patronising when we were denied some of the more complex and satisfying gameplay mechanics and design quirks from that game, 21 years on from its original release.

Seeing Super Mario World inspire Super Mario Bros. U in a much bigger way is, therefore, big news in the realm of modern 2D Mario platformers, and it’s going to make for a game packed with far more secrets, and far more neat additions that will make us excited for 2D Mario again, in the same way our mouths slobber over the next mainline 3D series entries.

Super Mario World throwbacks aside, the new additions are certainly worth championing. James B.’s already made an analogy between the squirrel suit and WarioWare’s addictive Paper Plane – so think of it as a more maneuverable and acrobatic cape feather.

Integrated Miiverse features should ensure this is a game worth returning to, even once we’ve exhausted every secret and received those shiny stars on the file select screen. Then there’s the new Boost Rush mode, which sees you navigate one of *those* scrolling levels, but with a worthy twist. Perfect for high score chasers.

So we’re finally seeing New Super Mario Bros.’s level and map designs flourish into something mechanically fresh and new when compared with its modern Brethren. Now for the final, crucial, mega important, life affirming question: can you throw koopa shells upwards?