I am a little surprised to conclude that Nintendo is far too late to the DLC game, because it turns out that they are the best suited to it. Or they are at least if New Super Luigi U is any indication. Nintendo has recently had the problem of having incredibly capable teams that are bogged down with the task of maintaining a plethora of franchises that do not go away because every entry is almost always well-designed. It is a strange combination of stagnation and excellence that causes most people to know exactly how Mario Kart 8 is going to play a full year before it is released. Nintendo appears to be far more obsessed with bringing new young gamers into the fold as opposed to pleasing their initial fans who have grown older and want something new.
Enter New Super Luigi U. Nintendo has finally realized that with DLC, they have an opportunity to try new things and give proper challenge to their games without putting a flagship series at risk. I quite enjoyed New Super Mario Bros U, but because of the (excellent) challenge mode, the main game’s difficulty became watered down in comparison to New Super Mario Bros Wii. Having just played through both in quick concession, my girlfriend and I were lamenting this fact when we realized that the Luigi DLC was available for download. We got right on that.
In Nintendo’s biggest fault of the content’s launch, we were initially taken aback by the format of the DLC. Every level begins with only one hundred seconds and therefore players are greeted with the intense “you got no time left, suckah” musical queue the moment they begin. This sets the tone. The DLC is nail-biting challenge from start to finish (assuming I get to the finish). Beating a level without dying on the first try – commonplace in the main content – is an achievement worth celebrating in New Super Luigi U. The levels are shorter to make up for the chopped down time, but each one stands as its own mountain to climb.
To compare, I completed New Super Mario Bros U with maxed out lives and no continues used. In New Super Luigi U, I have not completed it, have rarely gathered more than ten lives, and am closing in on using twenty continues. However, the challenge is satisfying and beating a level means something now. Now that we are aware of the game’s philosophies, we are reveling in the challenge and gear up every day to press forward with Luigi and Toad and their new, slipperier friction.
There is also the addition of Nabbit in multiplayer (and singleplayer if one is so inclined to cheat) which I imagine would make things easier (Nabbit is immune to damage from most enemies), but the fact remains that releasing this content as DLC proves to me that Nintendo not only is able to create challenging content, but actually wants to do so. The price is about a third of the original and while it may seem expensive in the sense that it uses the original’s overworld and level motifs while making the levels themselves a third of the length, playing the game for just one world makes it clear that the content is not a cheap cash-in.
I am confident that Nintendo would have never released gameplay like the type available in New Super Luigi U as a standalone title; not unless it were packaged specially as in the challenge mode in the original. So despite the company’s unfamiliar-at-best relationship with the internet over the years, DLC seems to be a snug fit for them. They can continue to release excellent – although very familiar – content in the form of their flagship titles, but take more risks and cater to their older fans through DLC. If it is well-received, I hope it will further translate into taking more risks with new IPs or taking old franchises in impressive new directions (see: Metroid Prime), but it is certainly the right step for the little card company that could.
DLC in most games can feel like content that should have been included in the original. New Super Luigi U is able to feel wholly different from the original, yet is such that it also could not exist without the first game. Nintendo is taking fewer risks at a time when they should be taking more, but an optimist can see great things in the way they have chosen to handle this content. The Wii U is a console with far more potential than the original Wii, so one can only hope that eventually the limitation of sales will inspire continued creativity like the type seen with New Super Luigi U.
While I did not at first, I have obviously grown to love this DLC. How about you, LusiNabbits? Tried it out yet? Do you also feel like totally rearranging gameplay expectations is a better way to handle DLC, or would you have preferred a new batch of more traditional levels? COMMENT!