New Super Mario Bros. 2 is an enjoyable frustration and a saddening reminder that to Nintendo the New in the title is merely a part of a series name and not a statement about the game. Looking at this as a standalone game, having never played any of the New Super Mario Bros. series, then I would tell you to buy it in a heartbeat, however, it is probably safe to assume you have played a previous title.
While this review will seem very negative, please be assured that the game is fantastic in its own singular right, but it is heavily recycled. The simplest way to describe this game is that it is New Super Mario Bros. Wii re-imagined for the Nintendo 3DS. The levels are completely new, but the majority all feels a little too familiar. As for some of the gameplay styles, don’t expect anything dramatically new there either. The only addition, something that wasn’t in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, is the Super Leaf, allowing you to transform into Raccoon Mario. Instead of taking this from 2009, it has come from 1988. That’s right. It’s the proper Super Leaf from Super Mario Bros. 3, meaning
the game is a breeze you can fly again, not that silly flight-less carbon copy from last year’s Super Mario 3D Land.
Possibly the biggest let down in this game, however, is the soundtrack – a fundamental part of any game. Mario titles are known for their wonderfully imaginative, and award winning, soundtracks. I think I counted five new songs, one of which was remixed two more times to make it seem like they were more new songs. So are there only seven tracks in that game?! No – instead it steals the soundtrack of New Super Mario Bros. Wii and adds an extra layer of chirpy mouth sounds to every track to seem edgy and fresh, but ultimately failing. Whilst the New Super Mario Bros. Wii soundtrack is great, it’s a little cheap to just… not make a new soundtrack, bearing in mind we only needed around 20 new tracks, after that they can just speed-up, remix, and tweak to their hearts content to get the 45 or so tracks needed for the game. But no, they just ‘borrowed’ one from the archives.
As for stereoscopic 3D effects, (let’s not forget this is the 3DS after all) this is the worst effects we’ve seen from a first-party title thus far! Whereas 2D games will blur a backdrop to add depth, this game does the opposite, in 2D mode, the backdrop is clear, but when you enable 3D, it blurs the backdrop, losing the detail of the art and thus making the 3D effects completely redundant. It’s almost as if someone looked at the good concept of using 3D visuals in a 2D game through a mirror. It’s not all doom and gloom though, whilst the 3D may be pointless, levels may feel familiar, and music – frankly – is familiar, there is a very minor part of New that does ring true.
In the past, the ‘side-games’ you get in Mario games are quite underwhelming, however, Nintendo has fixed this. Coin Rush is what really makes this game. The concept is as follows; you’re given three randomly selected levels, a harsh time limit, one life and the goal of collecting as many coins as possible. There are various ways to increase your coin count in this; an easy way to do this is to hit the top of the flagpole at the end of the level – which doubles your current coin total! If you manage to complete a Coin Rush challenge, you’ll be given the option to save your record and share it over StreetPass for other players to try and better. However, there is one downside, and it’s 30,000 – the highest possible score. Having a maximum score when the challenge is to get a higher score than the other person is stupid, it’s like trying to launch a rocket and Mars but having it burn up in the atmosphere. It’s a great concept (Coin Rush, not nuking the red planet) but misapplied. Nintendo is trying something else new with this game, however, and that is DLC (Add-on Content in Nintendo lingo) – luckily, you’re not paying £2 to turn Mario into Luigi, this DLC is actually worth it. You get coin for coin as the DLC available for the game are Coin Rush expansion packs, adding three completely new levels for you to go on a coin collecting spree in.
Whilst playing the game, I got this feeling that Nintendo is scared. Scared to try something New. Out of the 80 levels on offer, maybe between 5 and 10 of these contained something totally unique, only in this title, and they were all fantastic! But it seems Nintendo will only try new and unique in small doses nowadays, which is a terrible shame. Personally, I loved the easily hated Super Mario Sunshine, why? Because it was different! We can only hope the Add-on Content levels will reuse these awesome new mechanics, they certainly deserve to become a regular part of Mario titles!
New Super Missed Opportunities, that’s what this game is. The biggest selling point and advertisement focus for the game is ironically the biggest missed opportunity of them all. 1 Million Coins. That’s the goal of the game, so to speak. You know this from the relentless advertising Nintendo don’t do. To collect 1 Million coins. Do you know what would have made this much more awesome? Actually telling us properly to do it, and giving us a reason too! All we get is a coin total counter and the impression we should fill it. This is how scared to try something new Nintendo have become. Think about the conceptual possibilities it could of had! How rewarding would it feel to unlock a special world every 250,000 coins! Or have longer special coin levels, similar to the music levels in Rayman Legends, where there is a set path of coins! Imagine how rewarding it would feel knowing you just collected 1,000 coins in a single level, especially if you have the auto-run mechanic that was only used three levels. No, instead what we get is no incentive,and if we do hit the 1,000,000 and 9,999,999 coin marks, we’re given two pitiful insults reminding us we wasted all that time for the edge of nothing.
Something that wasn’t copied as well from New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the co-op mode, this time for two players, not four. Despite needing two 3DS consoles and game cartridges, players are required to both be on screen, with characters fighting over control of the camera (ground pounding on the other player give you control). The coordination needed takes away the fun elements from the previous title, not to mention the lag. Oh god the lag. This game only supports local play, not online play, and both myself and a friend where sat roughly 1 metre away from each other with no obstructions between the 3DS consoles, so it is safe to say the lag is common in all games, not just by a weak connection in my play session. When there are just the two players and a small number of enemies on screen, the game runs okay, but when you get coins and coin blocks and five or more enemies, the game isn’t quite the polished gold you would like. I found the multiplayer more frustrating then enjoyable.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a fantastic game, possibly even a 3DS must-have, but plays itself safe by never truly being new and always feeling familiar. If you’re new to the series, I couldn’t recommend this title more. If you’re a veteran Star Coin collector, just don’t expect any amazing innovation from this title. Whilst I can complain about it being too similar to previous titles, I will score the game based on it as a singular product. The controls are tight, the levels are enjoyable and Coin Rush is awesome. The biggest let downs are the 3D effects and multiplayer co-op.
Did you think there was enough originality in New Super Mario Bros. 2?