He's loved like no other. Outpaced countless competitors over the years, and is still here, always leading the pack. Showing versatility yet retaining tradition.
Nintendo's had a deft touch in choosing what's right for the plumber. And that's obviously the case with New Super Mario Bros. 2.
When announced, it seemed the big N had run out of steam. We'd seen it all before - both on DS and on Wii (and will again on Wii U). The original idea was fantastic: hauling the NES classic into modern times and building a completely new standalone game. But then the company repeated the same trick - surprising given Mario's usual push towards innovation.
Celebration of the good old days is fine, but we want to see something new. Only a year after the superb Super Mario 3D Land suggested a new direction for handheld Mario titles, here's a new(ish) title. One that looks more of a repeat. Surely Nintendo can't be calling this one in? Yet masterpieces need time to develop: eight months between releases doesn't bode well.
Yes, skepticism is appropriate, and yet it was arbitrary. With New Super Mario Bros. 2 Nintendo delivers high quality in every detail.
This game is yet another proof of why the company may well compete against the big wave of Apps - why Nintendo continue to offer their own hardware and will develop games for it. Titles with depth and provide entertainment for a wide audience. Nintendo manages offers fun for both - beginners and advanced students - without boring anybody.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 is actually a logical extension of the famous 2D series. So we control the chubby plumber through the Mushroom Kingdom, underground, icy landscapes, jungle passages, deserts, underwater and even through cloudy passages. We conquer castles and towers and run into confusing ghost houses.
In over eighty levels there is a high degree of variety that is not only familiarity left over from the Mario worlds. There are some clever and interesting ideas as well. The proximity to Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World is even more noticeable - and not only because the raccoon costume. The overworld map, the way to level up - there are so many little secret spots that we will sift through levels again and again.
While we've got mushrooms on the go, the focus is more on Racoon Mario and the new golden objects. Golden mushrooms give us fifty coins, while golden flower power-ups turn enemies into coins with fireball strikes. Coin multi-boxes are slammed onto Mario's head and spurt out more coins the faster we move. Everything's geared towards earning as much gold as possible - that's the game's focus (the game was originally going to be subtitled New Super Mario Bros Gold).