Nintendo and the 3DS have had some ridiculous levels of success lately with their steady stream of Mario-based releases, like Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7. This fall, Nintendo is looking to copy their success by unleashing the one-two punch of more Mario games.
Beginning with the traditional side-scroller New Super Mario Bros. 2, can the 3DS count on Mario’s golden touch or is the Princess in another kingdom?
If you’ve played the DS or Wii releases of the New Super Mario Bros. games, or really any Mario side-scroller for that matter, you know exactly what you’re getting into. Princess Peach has again been kidnapped by Bowser and his minions, and its up to Mario and Luigi to save her from his evil clutches.
There are six total worlds to play through, ranging from the regular green plains to fiery caverns to high-flying platform hopping. The best comparison to be made is to the stages of Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World because of the variety that players will encounter. Maybe it’s because I’ve played just about every Mario platformer, I felt like the stages weren’t as memorable as a number of the other games, but that’s not a knock against the quality of the challenges presented. I feel like perhaps New Super Mario Bros. 2 has made me appreciate Nintendo’s ability to continue to be one of the few publishers that could consistently create great platforming worlds to explore. It just happens to be extraordinarily difficult to create a game that will live well beyond its release.
Players will probably be surprised to find that their journey will require them to make it past the Koopalings, the rarely-used and under-appreciated offspring of Bowser. It was great to see them back and I really hope that its a sign of things to come for Mario.
Along the way you’ll use the standard power-ups, like fire flower, raccoon Mario, and the invincibility star. There’s also a mushroom that makes players screen-sized, a mushroom that shrinks Mario into a miniture and a golden fire flower that turns blocks into coins and all-round decimates everything in sight. Aside from the new, rarely used golden fire flower, it’s an average Mario affair that does little to distingush itself from better entries.
Saving Princess Peach will probably take most gamers around 5-6 hours, but there’s a great deal of the Mushroom Kingdom to explore afterwards. I can see most gamers spending at least 5 more hours just unlocking hidden stages and worlds, finding all the Star Coins, and trying to collect as many coins as they possibly can. And, by the way, that 1,000,000 coin goal is going to take a loooong time to complete for even the most veteran players.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 checks all the expected boxes for a Mario game. Diverse enemies with lots of personality. Check. Environments that glow with a diverse colour pallet. Yep. Sparkling power-ups and some creative boss encounters. You betcha.
As usual, this Mario title has no difficulty incorporating a wide range of colours into the enemy and world art. If you’ve been staring at bland action games like I have the past few months, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is going to be an overload to your senses, injecting the most bright colours I’ve seen in a year since Rayman Origins. The one gripe I have with the art is that it won’t be anything that a Mario Bros. fan hasn’t seen before. It seems like the enemy design has been heavily recycled from the old titles and, while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I never felt like I was getting anything new; just rehashes of classic Mario games.
Unlike Super Mario 3D Land, the New Super Mario Bros. 2 doesn’t incorporate 3D into the game effectively. The 3D does add another dimension of depth between the environment and foreground, but there’s no action going on in the background that actively alters gameplay. It’s just an unnecessary feature in the grand scheme of things.
The music is the one of the most underwhelming aspects of the game. New Super Mario Bros. 2 has great music, but it’s nothing fans haven’t heard before. All the same tunes are here, recycling tracks from other Mario games into new remixes that sound nearly identical.
The sound effects don’t fare much better, consisting of old material. Again, New Super Mario Bros. 2 sounds fantastic and will bring nostalgic feelings back from playing older Mario titles, but it just seems a little too lazy to me for Nintendo not to make an effort to add more than a few new sound effects into the mix.
I’ll close out the review by quickly mentioning some of the network features. The Coin Rush—a mode where the objective is to play three pre-selected stages to find the most coins possible without dying—is an interesting addition that fits with the overarching theme of coin collecting, but it feels tacked on by Nintendo’s standards. It’s far from being a bullet point feature on the back of the box and, aside from some minor competitions you might have with friends, there’s really not much reason to go back for higher scores.
There’s also a mode for co-op play with one person controlling Mario and the other handling duties as Luigi. There’s a catch to playing co-op as only one player gets to control the camera. This means that if one person gets too far ahead or behind, they’re finished. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try the mode in time for this review because it’s local multiplayer only, but it seems like it would provide some entertainment for at least an afternoon.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 isn’t new or innovative in any way. In fact, it’s probably a prime example for arguing that the video game industry has run out of ideas. In spite of this, Nintendo has churned out another Mario platforming game that is as reliable as Japanese automobiles. It’s a fun, casual and sturdy release that won’t bring the memorable experiences we’ve come to expect from the classic Mario franchise.
GO Rating: 3.5/5