With Nintendo's new home console, the Wii U set to launch later this year, we always knew this year's gaming convention E3 would be where we got to find out about the most important part of any console launch - the games the machine would release alongside. During Nintendo's conference on the Tuesday, they answered that question in storming style, by announcing New Super Mario Bros. U, a four-player Mario game for the Wii U. Taking its cues from the Wii game of (almost) the same name, New Super Mario Bros U will let you and a group of friends run, jump, and in my case, fall down holes, across the Mushroom Kingdom in pursuit of the dastardly Bowser. If its predecessor's anything to go by, we're certainly in for a riot.
Originally revealed at last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo as New Super Mario Bros. Mii, a concept designed to illustrate the new console's capabilities, New Super Mario Bros U picks up where the concept left off, by adding support for Nintendo's cute avatar people, known as Miis. With up to four people bouncing around through the Mushroom Kingdom together, now you'll be able to play as your very own Mii, along with the regular cast of Mario, Luigi, and the Yellow and Blue Toads, in the mad cap platforming mayhem.
Along with a bunch of all new worlds and levels, New Super Mario Bros. U also gets it's fair share of new power ups. The demo we saw showed off a brand new Flying Squirrel suit, which, as the name may suggest, lets your character glide through the air and cross huge gaps by spreading their arms and praying - much as a flying squirrel would. By shaking the controller, you'll also be able to give your character a boost and glide up higher, buying you plenty of extra time to get lined up with a platform, as well as making this an essential aid for Mario platforming novices. Also new for this game are a selection of tiny Yoshi dinosaurs, which you can grab and carry with you throughout the level. As they're so small, they can't really carry you on their backs like in the previous games, but that doesn't mean they don't have they're own uses. Tiny Balloon Yoshi is red, and can swell up to carry your character to new heights, while the blue Yoshi can spit bubbles, capturing enemies inside them, and rendering them temporarily harmless.
In fact, a lot of the new additions to the game seem to be intended to give the option of making things a little bit easier for newcomers to the series - which is perhaps a good thing, as the original on the Wii was incredibly tricky, even if it never got frustratingly so because it was so utterly daft. New for New Super Mario Bros U is the ability to have a fifth player join in using the Wii U GamePad's touch screen - but rather than controlling a character themselves, they instead have the power to place blocks throughout the level - helping making those tricky jumps that little bit easier, and ensuring everyone can reach the end of the level, no matter their ability. Sounding like the perfect recipie for some family gaming, helping ease new players into the world of Mario, this is a great idea to get families playing together - from the only company that seems to realise that that's what families want to do.
As is traditional, Nintendo are keeping the Wii U console and games release dates very quiet, so we don't really know when anything will be out yet – other than a vague 'Holiday 2012'. All we know is that we should expect the console and games before the end of the year – hopefully we'll know more in the coming weeks, so make sure you check back from time to time. Until then, why not check out the trailer below: