New Super Mario Bros. 2
Mario has accompanied me my whole life.
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).
Take the new coin mode, trying to collect as many coins as possible within a short space of time - and having that collection doubled if you hit the level's end flagpole at the very top, becomes extraordinarily addictive due to StreetPass. Your total's saved and shared with other players (and vice versa) to offer leaderboard-style challenges. It's a simple concept yet fantastic in execution.
Yes, that's probably the big hit of the game. The main story mode's a lot of fun and entertaining - and there's fast-paced coin-hunting mini-games between levels that'll likely become the pro player's new obsession.
You're also able to play the story mode with a co-op partner, reminding us heavily of the chaos witnessed in the Wii version as despite having a screen each you've got to share a camera. It's amazing how easy team spirit is replaced with grabbing the goods for yourself.
Nintendo's transfered the Help function from 3D Land, giving anyone failing to complete a level access to a special Raccoon suit which is easier to fly and is invulnerable. With it, even the tricky passages easier to manage.
This seemingly unpredictable game turns out to be literally a gold mine for Mario's friends. Nintendo has left a young team in charge of the game, to let them free with their ideas. There is no doubt this is a direct continuation, but with the changed focus of the game for the hunt for coins, it feels different. Additionally, there actually a lot of secrets to discover, and even those who do not dive so deep will find fun with the regular game and also a sense of achievement.
Nintendo has designed a game that can reach all audiences. New Super Mario Bros. 2 is not frustrating, not too simple or even boring. It is not complicated, yet it calls to us anyway. There are no problems with the focus or the camera. And the difficulty is quite flexible. The learning curve great.
Shame then that style is not completely revised, so you'll have to accept the lack of the big wow factor. Lacking the wow factor of 3D Land, it's still playful, provides some unexpected challenges. You won't want to stop playing.
- System:Nintendo 3DS
- Offline players:1
- Online players:1-2
- Release date:17 August 2012
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