I feel like I’ve been here before, sitting at a computer, typing out a review of the new Mario game. I wonder if I could get away with just reusing my last one and search replace all the words Tanooki with the word gold… The New Super Mario Bros. 2 is actually the third game to hold the ‘new’ distinction that has become something of a spinoff of Mario games. The original New Super Mario Bros. came out on the DS while a follow-up to it came out on the Wii allowing four player simulanious play. Another version is also planned for the Wii-U when that comes out.
While this reimagining of the original style Mario games was warmly received by gamers when it first showed up, it is already getting panned by some for just reiterating the same game over and over with very little changes between titles. This is a criticism you could levy on many popular Nintendo produced series, but somehow New Super Mario Bros. has been on the receiving end of gamer’s ire more than most.
Ignoring the Wii version, this comes out as the true sequel to the New Super Mario Bros. on the Nitnendo DS. To add more confusion though, the game starts with Mario and Luigi returning Princess Peach to her castle, both having the Tanooki powers that were the focus of Mario 3D Land. In what might be the shortest time passed between games ever, the Koopalings show up and kidnap Princess Peach all over again. The rest is academic.
Gameplay is mainly unchanged from the original New Super Mario, which in turn was heavily inspired by the gameplay and level structure of Mario Bros. 3 on the NES. Players work through a map of stages, each containing a tower and a castle that finishes with a boss fight with one of the Koopalings. Each level contains three large gold coins which can be used to unlock alternative routes through the level via secret stages and mushroom houses that provide the player with 1-ups and power-ups.
It’s classic style Mario Bros. gameplay at it’s finest. While on the 3DS, the game doesn’t really make any use of the device’s 3D capabilities, nowhere near to the extent Mario 3D Land did. All of the game’s 3D is mainly in adding depth to the background and works more as atmospheric 3D.
The major twist 2 brings to the table, in case you haven’t noticed from all the promotional material, is it’s emphasis on the gold coins that the series is so famous for. In pretty much every other game in the series, the coins do nothing more than give you a 1-up every time you collect 100 of them, New Super Mario Bros. 2 however has impressed an importance to the player for collecting them.
The box itself expresses the importance of collecting as many coins as possible and trying to reach the fabled one million. The thing is though, within the game itself there is no reasoning for the game’s importance of coins. While it keeps a running total, it never really explains why collecting them is so important. And, minor spoiler here, but in the end, it isn’t important, it’s just an additional goal for the players to work towards like collecting all 120 stars in Mario 64 and getting all the giant coins in Mario Land 3DS.
Collecting coins is really just an additional goal to just beating all of the levels, but the game does provide a number of new power-ups that aid the player in collecting an enormous sum of coins in a single level. The first is the golden flower, collecting it turns Mario into solid gold (and poor Luigi into solid silver), while in this form Mario can throw golden fireballs that turn all enemies and brick blocks into coins. The power expires at the end of a stage, but allows players to collect a large number of coins before the level is done.
Another addition are the gold rings that turn all enemies into gold versions of themselves for limited amounts of time, enemies act differently while in this form, all in aid of providing Mario even more coins. The final new power-up is a golden brick block that can take on the role of Mario’s head when jumped into, when Mario builds up some speed the block continuously gives coins, meaning the player needs to rush as fast as they can for as long as the brick lasts.
This does add a new, although optional, dynamic to gameplay as you’re trying to accomplish a task within each level rather than just rushing through as quickly as possible. One side effect that results from this is the almost comical number of 1-ups that are collected throughout the game. These games have already made death meaningless, allowing players to just continue from where they left off no matter how often they die, but the sheer amount of lives you collect, coupled with how relatively easy the game actually is might actually turn off long time fans of the series as it seems to favour the younger and inexperienced gamer as a priority.
The level design is great, as it always is in Mario games, but the stages themselves are just the same thing we’ve seen before in previous games in the series. The stages and the music are fantastically nostalgic and obviously take a lot of influence from the original games in the series. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective of the current state of the series.
The game takes a leaf from the Wii version’s book and allows for simultaneous co-op play. The four player mode is cut down to a mere two player though as it only allows Mario and Luigi as playable characters. This is only accessible through local play though, which is a shame in my opinion. I would have liked to see more online support for the game and the ability to play levels cooperatively online.
The third way the game can be played is through the Coin Rush mode. This is unlocked after the first boss has been beaten, it allows players to run through three randomly selected stages with the aim of collecting as many coins as possible. These coins are added to the overall total and the players are added to a leader board where they can compare their scores to their friends and those of people from around the world.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 is another reliably good entry in the Super Mario series. It has it’s gameplay formula perfected to an art, however, the game doesn’t really do anything new or different to the long running series. The unique gameplay element the entry brings in the form of the coin abundance doesn’t really add much to the game that we haven’t seen every other entry in the series.
Much of the criticism the game has received from critics and commenters alike is that it is a carbon copy of the two previous ‘new’ Mario games and doesn’t change enough to warrant being called a new game. In the end though, this is a well made and quality game, all of its major negative points comes from its lineage and what it does and doesn’t do when compared to other games.
If you don’t mind that this game is very similar to other select titles and just want to play a good Mario game, then I’d recommend it. Because whatever people say against it, as a stand alone title it does nothing wrong and continues to satisfy the itch gamers have had since the original Super Mario Bros. that came out in 1985.
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