Nintendo Wii U game roundup: Super Mario, Batman, ZombiU

The Nintendo Wii U launched this week alongside several highly anticipated games, including New Super Mario Bros. U, ZombiU, and Batman: Arkham City – Armored Edition.

A screenshot from Batman: Arkham City – Armored Edition.

It’s finally here – the Wii U.

Gamers have anxiously waited for Nintendo’s newest console. But now comes the important question: Are the new Wii U games reason enough to buy the new system right now?

It’s no surprise that one of the first games released for Wii U revolves around the heroic adventures of Nintendo’s most beloved brothers, Mario and Luigi. In New Super Mario Bros. U, the Bros. have to once again save Princess Peach from the evil clutches of Bowser and the Koopalings. Get ready for an old-school, side-scrolling game in the style of New Super Mario Bros. Wii and the classic games that defined the Mario series.

Richard George of IGN says the new title “captures that carefree adventure many of us felt as kids.” The game still has a lot of challenge to it, he says. However, the weak graphics and “irritating, chaotic, bouncy multiplayer mode” from the Wii game still exist.

Is this the “same old Mario”? You bet, says Mr. George. For some fans, that's all they need to hear. But the Wii U game brings something new to the platform, a Challenge Mode. Here, players are thrown into levels with near-impossible tasks, such as traversing an entire level without killing an enemy or not touching the ground.

“That even some of the simplest tasks will cause you to throw down your controller in frustration – and then immediately pick it back up to try again – is precisely what the Mario series has needed,” says George. IGN rated it a 91 out of 100.

Game Informer gave the game a 93 out of 100 for its high-definition visuals and freshness as the game progresses.

“New enemies and themes are constantly popping up, and each only appears once or twice,” says Bryan Vore of Game Informer. "A massive sea snake chases you all throughout a water level and never shows up again. The same goes for rare classic enemies like the stomping Sumo Bros, who haven’t surfaced since Super Mario World."

Mr. Vore welcomes the new boost mode, a chance for five people to play simultaneously. This fifth person plays solely on the gamepad screen and can add platforms, stun enemies, and ward off hurtling objects.

“After some practice, a skilled boost player can rescue the bros from certain doom and help them get hidden star coins,” says Vore.

Moving on from Nintendo’s decades-old series, Nintendo seeks to capitalize on the “horror survival” craze with Ubisoft's release of ZombiU.

“ZombiU is unforgiving, and it's expected that you will die,” says Richard Mitchell of Joystiq, who rated ZombiU a 90 out of 100.

According to Mr. Mitchell, the story makes this game standout. Previously predicted by a 16th century alchemist, a disease strikes London, unleashing zombies. Players must solve the ancient quest and find a cure. ZombiU mixes the biblical with the historical, which, as Mitchell notes, the Assassin’s Creed series has done to great effect. 

“What's initially most striking about ZombiU is just how intimate its encounters are," he says. "With a few rare exceptions, you aren't mowing down hordes of the infected. Instead, you'll more often face one or two at a time and, believe me, that's enough."

Gamespot, on the other hand, gave ZombiU a 45 out of 100.

Ubisoft's “vision of a zombie-infested London not only fails to create an engaging horror experience, but also falls short of being a good game,” says Maxwell McGee of Gamespot.

According to Mr. McGee, your ability to run is limited and that’s how you die easily – the zombies can keep up with you. The only way to kill the zombies is by luring them one by one and clobbering them with a cricket bat. Also, because the game relies so heavily on combat, firearms are even more scarce than they usually are in traditional zombie games.

ZombiU also changes protagonists. Every time you die, a new character arrives, and the game struggles to remain consistent.

McGee likes using the new gamepad, which keeps track of your inventory and shows a map of where you are and what’s around you.

“Every so often a zombie will shamble into frame, creating slight panic as you tap away,” he says.

While both ZombiU and New Super Mario Bros. U are brand new games, Batman: Arkham City – Armored Edition takes a great game for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and revamps it for the new system.

There's a new mayor in Gotham, and he’s moved all the bad guys from Blackgate Prison and Arkham Asylum to a sectioned-off slum called Arkham City. However, the genius psychiatrist that runs the place seems to have his own mission. Batman’s job is to make sure that things don’t get out of hand.

So what's new in this Wii U version? Not much, says IGN’s Greg Miller, who rated the game a 95 out of 100.

“For those who played through Batman: Arkham City in 2011, the Armored Edition doesn't offer much in the way of incentives – by and large, this is the same top-notch action/adventure game Rocksteady released last year,” says Mr. Miller.

According to Mr. Miller, the main flaw of this new version is the gamepad controls.

“Moving the real-world object to look for in-game objects is a chore, and better left to the analog sticks,” says Miller.

Ray Carsillo of EGM agrees that Arkham City is an epic game. However, he is only mildly impressed with the Wii U version, and it shows in his 70 out of 100 rating.

“The first flaw that you’ll notice rather quickly is glitches that were never present before — audio suddenly cutting in and out and weird shadows in cutscenes that make many characters look unnatural,” says Mr. Carsillo.

According to Carsillo, the new B.A.T. mode in the Wii U version makes the game too easy.

“Fights where you had to strategize who you’d take out first—as thugs came at you with knives, shields, stun batons, and all other manner of weaponry—are now nullified, as the B.A.T. system makes it so that every enemy can now be taken down in only a couple of hits,” he says.

All three of these games are available now for the Nintendo Wii U.

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