Published on August 27th, 2012 | by octaneblue1
Review: New Super Mario Bros. 2
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: August 19, 2012
As of March 2012, New Super Mario Bros., released in 2006 for the Nintendo DS, sold 29.09 million copies worldwide and New Super Mario Bros. Wii, released in 2009, sold 26.26 million copies worldwide. Needless to say, these two games are massive successes for Nintendo. The first title finally gets a direct sequel: New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the Nintendo 3DS. But is the game worth its weight in gold, or has this series lost its shine?
The story is exactly what you’d expect: Mario and Luigi step away from the castle, the Koopalings abduct Princess Peach, and the Mario Bros. go after them. It’s another typical storyline in the Super Mario games and, for better or worse, it’s just not a surprise at this point. The game features 6 regular worlds, ranging from grassy plains, a desert, snow fields, and so on. There are a few extra worlds as well, two of which are unlocked through shortcuts in the game. The other is unlocked by special means.
The gameplay is largely unchanged from the previous two titles in the series. The biggest addition here is the larger focus on coin-collecting. Coins appear often with the use of items, such as the new Gold Flower that turns blocks and enemies into larger quantities of coins, a ring that when jumped through turns enemies golden and results in more coins, and a golden block that, when worn by Mario/Luigi, produces coins periodically. The game keeps track of all the coins collected during your adventure, and the game box notes that a surprise awaits once you collect 1 million coins in total. Without spoiling what that reward is, it can be safely noted that it’s not totally worth it.
Because of the big emphasis on coins in the game, it’s rather easy to get plenty of extra lives. The game does provide extra lives hidden in blocks rather often too. What Nintendo should have done was get rid of the 1-up Mushrooms in favor of just collecting coins for extra lives. Like its predecessors, the game features Star Coins to collect. There are three in each level, some of which are very well hidden, perhaps more so than that of the Star Coins of the previous titles. Some of them require dedicated time to collect, since they may require having a certain power-up. Or, in some cases, you’ll only get one shot at a Star Coin during a level, requiring another playthrough of it. The Star Coins are later used on the world map to unlock new paths.
Besides your standard power-ups like the Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, and Star, New Super Mario Bros. 2 includes the return the Super Leaf, which turns Mario into his Raccoon Mario form from Super Mario Bros. 3. And just like in that game, you’re able to fly for a short amount of time by building up speed in the “P-meter”, and repeatedly hitting the jump button. This helps with reaching higher areas, which often contain entrances to bonus areas and/or Star Coins. You can also float down by tapping the jump button, enabling you to safely reach ledges, etc.
Levels in the game include your typical types, such as the plains, underwater areas, ghost houses, fortresses, and castles. The cannon levels in the game are something new, where Mario is blasted forward and runs through a level in its entirety, with your only inputs being jumps. These are fun, but there unfortunately aren’t many of them in the game. The fortresses feature a boss battle against Reznors (first appearing in Super Mario World), and the castles have a boss fight against one of the Koopalings. Disappointingly, most of the Koopaling battles are extremely similar to their respective battles in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. And not only that, all of them are much easier too.
The game does look really nice on the 3DS, coming very close to looking as good as the Wii edition. As you’d expect, the levels and worlds are vibrant and full of color. The 3D effect is used subtly here; the higher up the depth slider is, the more blurred the background becomes. This doesn’t really add to the gameplay, but it’s certainly a neat effect. In terms of sound, several musical themes are completely re-used from New Super Mario Bros. Wii. While some tracks are remixed, others are completely unaltered. This is a disappointment because it really just seems lazy on Nintendo’s part to just rehash more from the Wii edition. Nintendo certainly has the talent to create great music, so it’s a shame that a shortcut was essentially taken here.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 features a local-only cooperative mode in which two players with the game can play through it in its entirety. And just like on the Wii, one of the players can hop into a bubble, with the other leading the way, just in case there’s a part that gets too difficult. A new mode addition is Coin Rush, which is basically a time attack mode that features three levels, and the main objective is to collect as many coins as possible. This is a decent distraction from the main game, but once that’s over, Coin Rush doesn’t add too much longevity to the game overall. Records can be stored and transferred via StreetPass.
It would have been great if Nintendo did what occurred with Super Mario Galaxy 2, in that it was similar to its predecessor in several ways, but built upon its foundation and made numerous improvements and additions, ultimately making an already enjoyable experience even more so. While the original New Super Mario Bros. brought the 2D Mario gameplay into a current setting, and the Wii version expanded upon the original and added in multiplayer, New Super Mario Bros. 2 doesn’t really deviate from the formula established by its two predecessors. It’s clear Nintendo played it safe with this game. And that’s not to say that it’s bad; it’s far from it. The main flaw of New Super Mario Bros. 2 is that it’s just a little too conventional. But keeping that in mind, there is still plenty of fun to be had in the game.
+ New power-ups
+ Nice level designs
+ Co-op mode
– Too many reused elements from New Super Mario Bros. Wii
– Too easy to rack up lives
– Disappointing reward for collecting 1 million coins
Final score: 3.75 out of 5