|Title: New Super Mario Bros. 2
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: August 19, 2012
Rating: ESRB E
When two-dimensional Mario first made his comeback in 2006 with New Super Mario Bros. on the original DS, I was genuinely thrilled at the exciting return to form. Mario’s original adventures of the NES to SNES era had a profound influence on my childhood, after all. Six years later, after a few 3D outings on the Wii in the form of the Galaxy games, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and the semi-2D/3D Super Mario 3D Land, Nintendo is releasing New Super Mario Bros. 2 (and Nintendo also has New Super Mario Bros. U scheduled as a “launch window” game for the Wii U releasing later this year). The real question is: does Mario still have what it takes to thrill both his longtime fans and the new generation that has yet to experience the platforming perfection of a 2D Mario game?
Once again, Mario is tasked with rescuing Princess Peach, who has been whisked away by Bowser’s gang of misfit children, the Koopalings. Koopas, Goombas, Pirhana Plants, and the typical stable of Mushroom Kingdom baddies are all back in business, and although you navigate a fairly linear overworld map sprinkled with Toad Houses, it’s the main platform levels themselves that are the real stars.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 manages to keep itself somewhat unique, if only thanks to its heavy focus on collecting coins. Lots and lots of coins. In fact, the focus on coins is so heavy, there is a running total of each and every coin you collect throughout your adventure displayed in a counter on the map screen. Defeat an enemy with a fireball? Collect coins. Grab a gold block? Collect coins. Find a gold ring? Collect coins. Hit a switch block? You guessed it, coins. The game keeps track of your highest coin score for each level, so you can always go back and try to best your own high score. Every single coin you collect goes towards your total, even when replaying levels. Even when you lose a life, you still get to keep the coins you collected. All of this is part of Nintendo’s challenge to collect a million coins.
Fire flowers, mini- and mega-mushroom, and raccoon tails (that allow you to fly for a brief period of time) all make a comeback. The new Gold Flower allows you to rack up massive amounts of coins, but is just elusive enough that it doesn’t feel too overpowering. Did I mention that there are a lot of coins?
Coin Rush & Multiplayer
The focus on collecting a massive amount of coins almost gives the game a “Sonic the Hedgehog” feel, especially in the new “Coin Rush” mode. In coin rush mode, you are challenged to collect as many coins as possible within three randomly selected stages within a short period of time. As you complete worlds in the main game, you unlock new “coin rush” stages. Your completion time and coin total is then saved as a record and shared via SpotPass (if enabled). You can then challenge other SpotPass records that you receive, rewarding you with even more coins. Nintendo will eventually be adding new Coin Rush levels as paid DLC, but none were available at the time of this review.
The game includes a 2-player co-op mode, which is actually really fun as long as you meet the right conditions. It is local co-op only, so you must actually be in the same room to play with a friend, and both players must have their own copy of the game. Playing with a partner in co-op mode is nearly identical to the single-player experience. As long as one person is alive at all times, no lives are lost, making co-op significantly easier depending on the skill level of your partner. Both players’ coins are totaled together, and the coins collected add to both players’ running totals.
Author’s Note: This review was done with the download version of the game available on the eShop. The download includes a full game manual available on the 3DS’ main menu and takes up 2725 blocks of memory, so make sure you have the space before downloading. It took me just over 8 minutes to download via my home wi-fi connection.
Visuals – The game’s visual direction is pulled directly from New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Everything is bright, colorful, and cheerful. It doesn’t pull off any magnificent feats and won’t wow you with amazing eye candy, but it isn’t particularly offensive either.
Sound – There’s something very fitting about Mario’s signature “ya-wa-yahoo!” as he bounces around each stage, but something does need to be said about the game’s music. For those that have played the original DS NSMB or NSMB Wii, the music will be overly familiar and extremely repetitive. It features the same recycled tunes with a few added instruments tacked on occasionally. It would have been nice if Nintendo had attempted to compose a few new tracks.
Story – Peach had been kidnapped. Rescue her. It gets you from point A to point B.
Gameplay – Classic Mario platforming. The controls are buttery smooth. Some levels are easier than others, but the overall difficulty makes the game manageable for newcomers to the series. Longtime fans may be disappointed with the length of the game. Coin Rush is awesome, but should have been used more.
The game is simple enough for anyone of any age to pick up and has bouncy music (although repetitive) and colorful visuals. For someone new to the Mario series, there is a lot to love, and this is as good of a game as any to join the party. Older gamers that feel a little jaded by the Mario franchise will notice the recycled music and scenery, and this may feel like more of the same, which is simultaneously a good thing and bad thing. On one hand, Mario is classic for a reason: the series is known for tight controls and precision platforming. On the other hand, it would be nice to see a little more innovation in the series. Coin Rush mode is the standout feature of this game, and it’s a shame that Nintendo didn’t do more with it. While it won’t blow minds with groundbreaking new features, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a decent title in the Mario franchise and worth checking out for die-hard Mario fans and is a great starting point for those new to the series as well.