New Super Mario Bros. 2 is the successor to the blockbuster for the DS known as New Super Mario Bros., which was released all the way back in 2006. To date, this makes the 3rd in the line of “New” themed Mario titles, which offers a throwback experience to the franchise with 2D styled gameplay and 6 magical little worlds. To dampen the repetition that one might expect, Nintendo are offering up a new gimmick of coin collecting, as well as a brand new Coin Rush Mode that works with the 3DS’ Streetpass function. There really isn’t much question if we’d expect New Super Mario Bros. 2 to be solid, but does it do enough to stand out to warrant a purchase?
After Peach is kidnapped by the Koopa Kids, Mario must set out on a journey to save his damsel in distress. You know the story, as we’ve seen it time and time again but I must say that 27 years after the original, it still puts a smile on my face to see Princess Peach whisked across each world as our round little plumber makes chase. Much like the…well…everything within New Super Mario Bros. 2, the layout within is also very familiar, as players simply platform across each level until they reach the flag, facing a mid and main boss within each set of levels before progressing forward. Yes, its nothing too flashy or special compared to the heights this franchise has climbed, but in true Mario style, the journey to the finish is what makes this coin-filled adventure shine.
Controls for a Mario game are never too difficult, and not surprisingly the quality continues with this title as players are given a simplistic yet solid control scheme to jump onto moving ledges, paddle through scenic underwater routes, and plop through those classic warp pipes. The slide pad yet again proves its worth by making the experience feel effortless, while the face buttons are all mapped out intuitively, allowing for easy access to newcomers and veterans alike. Mario still boasts all of his usual standard abilities, such as picking up and tossing Koopa shells, while retaining his latter learned tricks such as wall jumps and ground pounds. The wall jumps work especially well when the player finds themselves plummeting towards a pit, as all that is needed out of the player is to muster up a quick bounce off a wall in order to rocket upwards and get back to sturdy ground.
As far as those famed power-ups go, players can expect to see fire-flowers, mushrooms, stars, and 1-UPs scattered throughout their quest. Making a return this time around is the Super Leaf from Super Mario Bros. 3 as well, which now lets this newer Mario fly throughout levels after a quick run and jump. I think we all remember how awesome it felt to get a Super Leaf years ago, and that epic feeling of flight holds true even more so within these levels as any area can be revisited at a moments notice, leaving the player with several opportunities to float back in and search for more coins and secrets.
Speaking of coins, gold is truly where New Super Mario Bros. 2 attempts to define itself from the rest of the lot. Players have always collected coins to get an extra life in Mario games, and you honestly could just do that an get a good portion of entertainment here. The thing is, the completionist in my own self could not leave one coin behind. You see, as you play, each coin you collect is counted at the bottom of the screen. As you reach higher numbers, the game will take a moment to congratulate you on your feats, while trying to get the player to aim for one million in total. This number is high and could take several playthroughs to hit, but there are more than enough tools to assist you on your quest for coins.
New power-ups such as the golden flower turn Mario into solid gold, and every fireball he fires out transforms both bricks and enemies into coins. The golden block can also appear from time to time, giving our hero a block of gold for a head that feeds players more coins for speeding through a stage. Mario can also get the Koopas and other foes into the giving act as well, turning everyone into gold and collecting the coin projectiles they vomit profusely. Yes, it’s different and definitely gimmicky, but I personally became obsessed with snagging up every cent as this formula is both addictive and enjoyable. Coin Rush mode adds to this collect-a-thon, giving the player one life to get through three random stages. Of course the purpose is to get as much gold as possible – and to test the strengths and skills of passing players as they battle to top your score.
Those who have friends will also be able to complete the game via co-op with Luigi through multi-card local play. Now, I do feel like an online mode would have been ideal for this type of game, but local has it’s own benefits so most should have no problem buddying up to get some extra life out of their experience.
Visuals and Audio
Bright, colorful, and warm are the words that best describe the energetic worlds within New Super Mario Bros. 2. Every world is full of life and animation, pulling the player into green flowery fields, hot pools of Lava, and menacing Boo houses. Yeah, I know…we have seen these same type of designs three times now (four if you count the similar yet still wonderful Super Mario 3D Land), but it’s hard to hate perfection. The 3D effect however does very little to improve this aesthetic, except for adding a little more “pop” to the moving environments in the background. Considering that this game is a 2D platformer, most should be able to easily overlook that very minor shortcoming.
As far as the soundtrack goes, not much has changed. Each level is still treated to the same tunes we have heard time and time again, but this is Mario and as I stated, you really don’t need to fix what isn’t broken. Mario still lets out his little howls when dying or claiming a flag, and all of those classic sound effects have lingered in to make sure the nostalgic crowd will feel right at home when collecting power-ups or chomping up the delicious coins.
Everywhere I go, I hear people saying that New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a rehash, or that it has been done too many times. Both statements may be true to an extent, but I feel that the best rebuttal to those critics is simply… “why not?“. This is the first entry of the “New” Mario series on the 3DS, and one of near perfection that nails every aspect it effortlessly delivers from beginning to end. The new coin collection gimmick is a superb one that not only fits in perfectly, but also pours incentive to keep on playing the game long after that final castle has been cleared. If Nintendo know anything, it’s that their fans love nostalgia, which is exactly what this game and the “New” series as a whole plays to. Collecting coins, stomping Koopas, and saving the Princess won’t keep Mario’s grey hairs disguised, but those looking for some guaranteed entertainment and quality are sure to find it in yet another golden delivery from the world’s favorite mustached plumber.