Game Review: New Super Mario Bros 2

The latest adventure of everyone’s favourite plumber has arrived just in time for the 3DS XL’s launch. It unleashed its gold-fever madness on Australia on the 18th of August.

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Platform:
3DS
Developer:
Nintendo
Rating: G
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Still golden!

My favourite video game cover of the year so far.

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So. Many. Coins.
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So very, very many coins. Just, coins, everywhere.

THE SET-UP

New Super Mario Bros 2 is about as straightforward a prospect as Mario games get. Mario and Luigi are out collecting coins one day (as you do) when *gasp* Princess Peach gets kidnapped, this time by Bowser’s seven children riding in one Koopa Clown Car. So begins the first numbered sequel to 2006’s New Super Mario Bros for the DS (although there are three games in the series if you include the Wii version, with a fourth coming to Wii U before the end of the year).

WHAT YOU DO

Like the other games in the lucrative franchise, New Super Mario Bros 2 has you running from left to right through levels contained within worlds, trying to either finish as fast as you can, kill everything in sight or collect every shiny object on offer, depending on the type of player you are. This particular game’s twist is that there are far, far more coins in it than in any other Mario game in history. Coins spew up from an invisible fountain whenever the game feels like it. Giant coins worth 10 and even 100 coins each lie hidden throughout the game. A golden fire flower turns you into a murderous, avaricious maniac spewing glowing balls of destruction that leave tasty coin totals in their wake. Jumping through a golden hoop turns every enemy to gold, yielding bountiful riches for every heartless stomping you commit. Hitting a regular coin block ten times turns it golden as well, latches it onto your head and then helps you rack up an amount of coins more alarming the more momentum you can keep up.

I like the green forever.

Standard stuff here.

These satisfying power-ups keep the otherwise by-the-numbers game fun to play, as do the consistently well-designed platforming levels that Nintendo is renowned for producing. The game does tend to be a little on the easy side, though. It’s bosses in particular are a bit of a joke. The game’s “halfway bosses” are simply rearrangements of a number of triceratops-things that just sit there, very occasionally blowing fireballs, and the world-ending bosses are variations on the theme of “jump on one of Bowser’s kids, avoid slow-moving attack, repeat two more times”. The game’s real challenge comes in hunting down those three infuriating Star Coins in each level. You’ll need as many as you can get if you want to see all of the game’s secret worlds.

WHAT YOU SEE

The game essentially looks like its 2006 predecessor with smoother edges, some nicer animations and the occasional cool visual effect. Although it launched so close to the 3DS XL, it is arguably one of the worst advertisements for the larger console, as the game doesn’t serve up anything of note to distract from the more noticeable pixellated effect that the 4.88 inch screen comes with. It doesn’t help that the stereoscopic 3D in the game is next to non-existent. Turning the slider all the way up completely blurs the backgrounds in addition to giving you a little depth, which isn’t the most ideal thing in the world. As such, New Super Mario Bros 2 is the first 3DS game for which I would recommend having the slider only halfway up, so as to get a bit of a 3D feel while not ruining the nice background art.

Run!

Truly awesome power-up, but note the pixellation.

WHAT YOU HEAR

The sound department is where New Super Mario Bros 2 feels the least creative. As good as the tracks from the first New Super game were, and as awesome as it is to see Koopa Troopas still dancing along to them, simply remixing them isn’t going to leave the best impression. The sound effects are pretty stock-standard as well, although Mario’s new sayings are certainly entertaining. Is it me, or does he get more arrogant with every release? After hearing him say “Mario time!” with unnerving regularly, I think he might be. The highlight of the whole game sonically was probably the first time I finished a level with a friend in the game’s new 2-player co-operative mode. Mario and Luigi proceeded to yell a synchronised “Bro time!” before calmly jogging into the castle. Best.

WILL YOU GO BACK?

I finished NSMB2 after three days of intermittent playing. Though I missed the majority of the secrets, the game’s six main worlds (there are nine in total) didn’t take long at all to breeze through. Luckily the game packs some long-term appeal, especially to its more “hardcore” players, in the form of two modes not present in the first DS game. That co-op mode is a very nice addition as it adds a bit of an awkward twist to every section of every level, while doubling the coin total you amass while playing. The second new addition is genius in its simplicity, and even though I suck at it the appeal is very easy to see. Coin Rush gives you just one life (aaarrrgghh) to run through three levels collecting as many coins as you can in as little time as possible, after which the game saves your score and sends it out as Streetpass data to any would-be challengers you walk by while you’re out. Receive some Coin Rush data and the game sends you straight into the same level pack the passer played and then taunts you, compelling you to beat his or her score.

What, again?

Useless, I am.

There’s also the goal of getting to a million coins… But it’s largely unrealistic to expect that most players will stay interested for long enough to reach the goal, unfortunately. I finished the game with about 15,000 coins, so you can imagine how long it could take me to reach seven digits without using exploits.

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THE VERDICT

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Good:
Downright cathartic new power-ups, two fun new modes, typically excellent level design
Bad:
Million coin target takes way too long to reach, easy bosses, largely a “same old, same old” vibe
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3.5 VsG !

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