Gamers have been waiting some time for a side-scrolling Super Mario platformer, and it’s finally arrived in the form of New Super Mario Bros. 2. This latest 3DS exclusive features a ton of familiar mechanics that fans of the franchise will instantly recognize, with a few minor twists along the way. While having a familiar foundation is good for gamers who enjoyed the original premise, it’s hard not to be slightly disappointed by yet another standard offering.
Read our review for the full details.
The story plays out identically to every Super Mario game ever. Peach has been kidnapped by the tyrannic Bowser, and he’s brought back his children, the Koopa Kids, to once and for all squash his nemesis. The graphics are what gamers have come to expect from a 3DS title, and may be even a bit better, but the 3D itself is completely unnecessary. A few portions benefit from 3D (i.e. molten ash rising off of the lava), but for the most part you can save your battery and play the entire thing with it off.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 stays very true to its roots. Players run through each level in hopes that they can overcome the obstacles laying in their path, and reach the flagpole that stands, like always, at the end of each area. There’s one significant twist this time around though, and it’s one that’s made rather apparent just by checking out the game’s box art. Coin collection plays a much more significant role this outing, tasking the pudgy plumber with gathering as many coins as he possibly can.
What’s never properly explained, however, is why Mario suddenly feels the need to horde all of these golden coins. All they really do is add to a meter that occasionally pops up in the corner of the screen. As many gamers familiar with this franchise will recall, obtaining 100 coins will award them with an extra life. Since massive amounts of faux currency are laying about each level, lives are in horrific abundance — making New Super Mario Bros. 2 feel way too easy.
It doesn’t make things any more challenging when gamers are given the option of using a White Tanooki suit (similar to the one found in Super Mario 3D Land) that makes them completely invulnerable. This suit only appears after the protagonist has perished several times on a single level but (in an attempt to make the game more kid-friendly) this installment offers much less of a challenge than the series’ prior entries. That’s not to say that there aren’t a few tough areas within the confines of the game cartridge, but there’s never a fear of running out of lives and getting the dreaded ‘GAME OVER’ text to appear on-screen.
Even though the abundance of golden collectibles is seemingly pointless, it’s said that if a million are collected then something special will happen. To give those who’ve yet to try the game some perspective, in my first run through NSMB2 I managed to obtain 12,398 of the iconic coins. To get through Worlds 1-6 in a single play through will take roughly five hours, but there’s still a wealth of content for completionists to go back and discover. Some levels have alternate exits that lead to entirely new worlds, and it’ll take gamers several hours to branch off and find every hidden aspect of this title.
Familiar power-ups such as the Mushroom, Mini Mushroom, Mega Mushroom, Fire Flower, Star Man, and Super Leaf all make their triumphant return, but, sadly, there are no fresh additions. Where past New Super Mario Bros. games introduced new suits or gameplay mechanics, there’s very little fresh content this time around — with the exception of two brand new power-ups.
The Golden Block is one of the new accessories, as it can be placed on Mario’s head whenever he comes across one. Donning the golden helmet will net players extra coins (and sprinting will bulk up their fictitious bank accounts significantly), but there’s only a limited amount of time that the shiny headgear can be put to use. Another new item is the Golden Flower, and it may very well be the most over-powered item ever conceived. Scoring one of these bad boys will turn Mario into solid gold, and allow him to throw gold-covered flower-esque fire that explode on impact. There’s no denying that the item fits the motif of New Super Mario Bros. 2 perfectly, but it’s very hard to be stopped after one falls into your possession.
After the main story has been finished, the entirety of ‘Coin Rush’ mode will be available to gamers. ‘Coin Rush’ is a pretty self-explanatory title, the objective is to gather as many coins as humanly possible within a limited time. Three randomly selected levels must be completed side-by-side, and doing so will assign players a high score based on how well they did. This score can then be distributed via StreetPass, and random strangers you’ve interacted with will be assigned the task of besting the coin collection you’ve worked so hard to established.
In terms of interacting with other players, there’s also a co-op mode available in New Super Mario Bros. 2. Player-2 will be given control of the tragically overlooked Luigi, and the two super Mario brothers can rampage across the Mushroom Kingdom indulging in vast amounts of golden discs and exposing their gluttonous dark sides. The co-op does something radically different from other co-op Mario games though, by giving control of the camera to one player. Whoever has control of the camera will remain in the middle of the screen, which means that the other player is free to accidentally wander off-screen and die.
The camera itself isn’t dedicated to one player though, as the other can freely steal it whenever they want. As one may expect, this can cause a hilarious amount of shenanigans, which is good for a few laughs. It does become old after a short amount of time however, and it’s curious as to why Nintendo didn’t just give players free reign on the camera. Allow them both to split up would have made a lot more sense. Each player has their own 3DS, and it’s a shame that they’re forced to play follow the leader throughout the entire co-op experience.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 doesn’t put enough effort into adding anything new to the traditional formula, and that’s tragic given the potential a 3D handheld provides the developers. Despite being a lackluster Super Mario game, it’s still a great platformer by any standards, and one that content-hungry portable owners will definitely want to own. There are a few familiar power-ups, a recognizable cast, and plenty of hidden pathways to adventure through, but there’s just not enough here to make this a standout 3DS title.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 is currently available for the Nintendo 3DS.
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