Review - New Super Mario Bros. 2

Posted on August 22, 2012 - 3:25pm

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"I want something that's familiar, but feels new all at the same time."

Those words were said by Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime when they first unveiled New Super Mario Bros. 2 during E3 2012. It certainly looked familiar; it had Mario, raccoon tails, and a whole mess of coins. And it looked new, teasing new items  and worlds to make it look fresh. But it doesn't feel fresh. In fact, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is too familiar. 

New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a direct sequel to the Nintendo DS New Super Mario Bros. I don't feel I need to explain how Mario works. You get power-ups, coins, and run and jump to get to the flagpole at the end of the level. Sometimes you fight bosses.

The "new" feel in this game comes from a few new power-ups. For one, the Raccoon Leaf returns, giving Mario (or Luigi) his patented tail swipe and brief flight abilities. Some coin boxes turn into wearable ones, turning Mario's head into a golden boxhead. Moving quickly and running around nets more coins, although no matter how much you move, you'll always get 100. A new Golden Fire Flower has golden fireballs that turn all blocks into coins and enemies defeated into more coins. Sometimes, you'll find golden rings that temporarily turn all enemies into gold, netting more coins for defeating them and leaving trails of cash behind them.

That's sadly it for the "new". There is a huge emphasis on collecting coins, beginning with the game taunting you to collect one million coins (for the record, it absolutely is not worth getting one million). A running tally is kept throughout all of your play, and each stage has a coin-collected total high score. You will get hundreds of coins in each stage. It's practically ridiculous how many coins there are. By the end of the first world, I had accumulated 63 lives.

This practically ruins Mario. Coins are so plentiful, it trivializes a majority of Mario staples. There are so many coins it isn't worth the effort going for every one. You'll have so many lives that you'll lose any desire to grab them. Finding the once-precious hidden 1-up mushrooms in invisible blocks has become redundant. There were so many times that I willingly let a 1-up fall into a pit or lava, because I didn't want to waste my time with it. It's all about coins, and it's not a good enough motivator for anything. Getting the three Star Coins on each level is a better challenge, as they can once again be used to unlock power-up giving Toad Houses, and a few of the coins are hidden away in somewhat difficult to reach areas.

But really, the entire time playing the game, I could not shake the feeling of "I've done this before." Even the progression of the worlds is identical to previous New Mario games. You'll start at a standard world, then it's the desert world, then water, then ice, then sky, then lava. Two optional hidden worlds can be obtained by hidden warp cannons, and even those don't quite feel "special" enough. 

Even the presentation is the same. The music is but a slight variation of the last game's theme, only with the addition of a rather annoying synthesized vocal going along with the melody. The graphics are 3DS worthy, but hardly worth mentioning. Turning up the 3D effect has background elements going further away and becoming out of focus. It seems neat, but the blur is almost distracting and eye-straining. This may be one of the few games that looks way better with the 3D effect turned completely off. 

A two player co-op mode is included, although through local wireless only. It allows two players to go through the whole game with Mario and Luigi, but it isn't quite enough to add much fun factor. The coin rush modes are more intriguing. You're given a limited amount of time to get as many coins as possible on a stage, while collecting other items to add more to your timer. These high scores can be shared through StreetPass or manual code. Some of the levels are great for this, others a little too straight forward to be challenging.

I can honestly say that New Super Mario Bros. 2 is the least fun I've ever had playing a Mario game. That isn't to say the game isn't fun, because it's still a Mario game. The controls are great and the platforming is solid. There's still something whimsical travelling through the Mushroom Kingdom and taking out goombas. But it's all so uninspired.

It is not a bad purchase. There's enough here to keep you going on your 3DS for a while. You'll enjoy it, and it will be fun. But personally, for what may be the first time for me in Mario history, the magic is gone.

7 / 10

(7s are very fun that has solid appeal. It has obvious issues that stick out, but can still be enjoyable by anyone.)

Jared Knabenbauer is the Reviews Editor, Hard News host, and a host of our weekly video podcast, "SideScrollers". He has also produced several notable ScrewAttack shows, including Newsroom, Nametags and Control Issues. He specializes in RPGs, and has a great fondness for Dungeons & Dragons. A comedian at heart, he is one serious gamer.

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