New Super Mario Bros. U accessibility review

Josh Straub4 minute read

New Super Mario Bros. U was perhaps the biggest title at launch for Nintendo’s new hardware. And true to form, the New Super Mario Bros. series is massively more accessible than traditional Mario games. However, there are some barriers with this title that have arisen that did not arise in previous Super Mario titles.

Thankfully, however, none of these barriers should affect gamers with hearing disabilities. True to the original Mario formula, New Super Mario Bros. U features no meaningful dialog of any kind and hardly any text to read. What’s even more impressive is that if gamers only have a partial hearing impairment, they’ll have the benefit of being able to pipe the sounds either through their TV or through the Wii U’s GamePad. This means that if players have a hard time hearing, they can choose to have a sound source closer to them than their TVs. This is because when playing the game, what is displayed on the TV and what is displayed on the Wii U’s GamePad are exactly the same.

This feature is also good news for players with sight disabilities, since it means that even if a player can’t see the TV screen clearly, they can still use the controller to play New Super Mario Bros. U. Following in the footsteps of previous titles, this game also features the classic Mario art style, which makes all important elements distinct from the background. And while color is used to differentiate between certain power-ups, since the effects of each power-up is fairly unique, and since all are useful thanks to the absence of a poison mushroom, this should pose little to no barrier to players with sight disabilities. However, the somewhat less forgiving nature of this game compared to other New Super Mario Bros. titles should be taken into account before purchasing it. There don’t seem to be as many coins as there were in previous titles, which means that it will be harder to earn the bonus lives for collecting 100 coins, which in turn means that if someone with a visual disability has even slight issues judging distance, they won’t be given as many chances to repeat difficult jumps as they would have been given in other titles.

The same problem can affect gamers with fine motor disabilities. Because lives are harder to come by, it’s not as easy to plough through harder levels without getting game overs. And instead of the gold Tanooki suit being given to players who are struggling on particular levels, this game allows you to watch Luigi traverse the level and gives you the option to skip it once you are finished watching the super guide. However, this is less helpful than the invincibility power ups, which serve the same purpose in previous games, since players do not get to keep the coins Luigi collects, or if they did, Luigi only does a simple run through each level and collects very few coins. With the exception of this change, New Super Mario Bros. U is about as accessible as other games in the franchise. The control scheme is simple, and this game is a straight platformer, which will require some timing in order to progress through the game. However, it is nice that players have the ability to carry power-ups that they earned from Toad between levels, which means that players can stockpile power-ups for hard levels.

The way the multiplayer component integrates the second screen on the Wii U’s GamePad into the game play, means that this game has an incredibly accessible multiplayer experience. Disabled players will have the option of using the tablet in something called “boost mode,” in which their job is to place blocks and to help the other players progress through the level. The controls are incredibly simple, and there’s no need to be able to distinguish color in order to enjoy this multiplayer experience.

On the whole, New Super Mario Bros. U may be the best New Super Mario Bros. title on the market from a gameplay standpoint. But it’s less forgiving nature means that players with disabilities will have a harder time with it than with previous titles.

Overall Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Visual Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Fine-Motor Rating: Partially Accessible
Auditory Rating: Barrier Free
GameInformer Score: 9.25

The Bottom Line for Disabled Gamers: New Super Mario Bros. U


– very little text to read- high contrast between important elements- game is forgiving enough to give the player multiple chances to complete each level, with various in-game tools to make gameplay easier- players must have the ability to properly gauge distance

– players must have the ability to properly gauge dsitance- compared to other Mario games, this game is not as forgiving

Fine Motor

– simple control scheme, requiring the use of only two buttons at a time- game is forgiving enough to give the player mulitple chances to complete each level, with various in-game tools to make gameplay easier

– requires some precise timin- compared to other Mario games, this game is not as forgiving- game requires the use of both hands


– no auditory barriers- the ability to choose sound output

– none

This article has been transferred from DAGERSystem (now AbilityPoints). Scores, formatting, and writing style may differ from original CIPT content.

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