Developer: Nintendo EAD
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Platform: Nintendo 3DS Exclusive
The easiest way to describe New Super Mario Bros. 2 is, “more of the same.” For the hardcore Mario fans, that may very well be enough to convince them to buy this game. The detractors may say that that is the very reason they dislike the franchise. Despite the criticisms, the fact that Nintendo can continue to create such a similar game and still deliver a very fun experience is testament to how solid the mechanics of this franchise were to begin with.
As you expect, this game has minimal story elements. The opening shows the Mario Brothers coin hunting with their raccoon tails. This almost gives the impression that this game continues immediately from 3D Land. If that was Nintendo’s intention, then our protagonists really do come off as inattentive since Peach is immediately kidnapped yet again by our favorite villains, the Koopalings. So, off you go to rescue our perpetual princess-in-distress yet again.
All of the recent Mario platformers have had a lot of nods towards previous entries in the series. This game is most similar to old-school Super Mario Bros. 3 featuring the return of the fully-functional raccoon tail complete with P-gauge, which conveniently only appears when you have a raccoon tail. Beyond the iconic Mario 3 power up, the main gimmick this time around is an abundance of coins. If you have been paying attention to the New Super Mario titles, you have probably noticed the increasing number of ways these games have come up with to deliver coins. Beyond the old-school methods of just having coins in blocks, floating or appearing due to a P-switch, recent games have brought us coins that move with the stage, appear when you stand at certain positions, need to be passed through twice, etc. This latest entry gives us power-ups that revolve around getting you more coins. Beyond your standard fire flower, there is a new “golden flower” that essentially grants Mario the Midas touch. This power turns not only enemies, but even parts of your environment into coins to collect. We also now have the golden rings (and no, sadly, Sonic is not involved.) These are stage features similar to the red rings. Passing through a golden ring causes the enemies to temporarily turn into their golden versions. While this is in effect, enemies leave trails of coins and you are rewarded with extra coins as you defeat enemies. Periodically, the game grants you a gold block, which sticks on Mario’s head and gives you free coins until it runs out. Certain coin blocks within levels will also become gold blocks. New Super Mario Bros. 2 also features your standard invincibility star (obviously) as well as the mini mushroom and mega mushroom. That’s right—Mario comes in four different sizes!
As always, the core of the gameplay is in the level design. Just like other recent games, the world map resembles a stylized game board. You take Mario through the various themed levels killing enemies, grabbing powers and gathering coins. You have the ability to store a single power up just like in Super Mario World or the DS New Super Mario Bros. My first major disappointment came very early when the mid-world bosses turned out to be triceratops creatures (named Reznors) on rotating coin blocks. I was hoping for multiple battles against each Koopaling, but at least you do fight them as the major castle bosses. The Koopalings do seem to have continued their wizardry training as they bring about a couple new tricks in the later parts of the game.
Like 3D Land, this game grants you an invincibility leaf if you are having a difficult time with a particular level. Along with the overabundance of coins, this makes the game very easy. Without really trying to, I had over 100 lives by the later part of the game. Yes, the life counter has a third digit now, probably due to that same coin theme.
The major selling point of the Nintendo 3DS was supposed to be hand-free 3D. It certainly does deliver this, but I have yet to be impressed by the 3D effect of any game. It is probably too early in the system’s lifespan to tell whether or not this will turn out to have simply been the gimmick to get the system out to the public, so perhaps some game will eventually come along to use it ingeniously. As for this game specifically, turning on the 3D will “pop” the graphics, but I again found myself keeping it off. The colorful graphics still do their job of bringing you into the mushroom kingdom while the sounds and background themes have become very familiar, yet still convey that cheerful mood of adventure.
Incorporating an “extra” mode has become the norm of recent Mario titles. In continuing with the coin theme, this time around we have “Coin Rush.” This is similar to a Time Attack game mode. You play through three levels collecting as many coins as you can and save your record. Streetpassing a friend allows you to challenge their record. Beating their record gives you an additional coin bonus, all of which is added to your overall total.
If you have a friend who has their own copy of the game, you can even play the main game in co-op mode as Mario and Luigi. You bounce off of one another just like in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. We experienced lag when we tried this mode out, but it is nice that they at least included the option.
The Bottom Line
New Super Mario Bros. 2 is pretty much fun by default. At the end of the day, the whole coin theme does not really matter too much. If you enjoy classic 2D platforming, these games always deliver. A recommendation for this game ultimately depends on the audience. This game is ideal for younger gamers due to low difficulty, accessibility, cute characters and very enjoyable gameplay. However, if you have played through many core Mario Bros. titles already, you will find that the previous entries have already trained you in how to get by and even to find their secrets. Experienced players can easily play through this game in a day. Go ahead and buy this game if you are a dedicated Mario fan or if you are looking for something you can play with a child or younger sibling. If you just want a quick Mario fix and you know your way around the Mushroom Kingdom already or perhaps you never played many 2D platformers and want to try an easy, yet enjoyable one, then this title would make an excellent rental. As for those who just want a new challenging Mario game, it seems you will have to wait until the Wii U launch, if not longer.
Thank you for reading and happy gaming.
|About the Author||
Rafael is the founder and video editor of latinogamer.com. Currrently a graduate student at California State University, Los Angeles pursuing his master's degree in Computer Science. He loves reading and learning about video game history and development. His dream is to be a video game designer.
Rafael es el creador y editor de video de latinogamer.com. Es estudiante de posgrado en la universidad del estado de california, los ángeles trabajando hacia su maestría en la ciencia de computación. Le encanta leer y aprender acerca de la historia y desarrollo de videojuegos. Su sueno es ser diseñador de videojuegos.