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Not-so-New Super Mario Bros. 2
Sept 21, 2012
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
How much you enjoy New Super Mario Bros. 2 will depend a lot on how much stock you take in a game's originality, because even diehard Super Mario Bros. fans will have a hard time arguing that the new entry in the series could be considered unique.
Nintendo created one of the greatest "new" retro games back in 2006 with New Super Mario Bros. on the DS. It was the same basic side-scrolling gameplay from the original Super Mario Bros. from the Nintendo Entertainment System, transplanted into the 21st century with slick new graphics. Gamers and critics alike loved it.
It's six years later, and Nintendo has decided it's time to give another dose of platforming goodness to fans. And while NSMB2 is indeed as solid a platformer as anything the mustachio'ed plumber has appeared in, it's also the one with the least amount of new ideas.
In NSMB2, Mario is once again tasked with rescuing Princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser. While he's traversing the Mushroom Kingdom, though, Mario is encouraged to collect as many coins as possible.
You can be sure you'll be hearing that trademark chime that signals a coin pick up so much, you'll soon become completely desensitized to it if you aren't already. Mario can acquire a powerup that turns him golden and makes everything he shoots fireballs at into coins. He'll hit special rings that will turn enemies into gold. The little gold ovals fall from the sky, jump out of enemies, and constantly appear out of nowhere. They're everywhere.
Of course, the gameplay itself is the same. Mario runs and hits things with one button, and jumps and flies with another. He can still make a second leap off of walls, and ground pound enemies by bashing into them from the air.
You've seen many of the powerups before as well - Mario can become large enough to fill almost the entire screen, he can become small enough to fit into miniscule pipes, and Raccoon Mario even makes a return from Super Mario Bros. 3.
While each level has plenty of platforming goodness, they aren't particularly challenging, and yet again, there is nothing here you haven't seen before, from the ghost houses, to the Toad shops, to the types of levels themselves - desert, snow, water, etc.
Of course, for completionists, there is plenty of hidden stuff to try to find and sift through. There are all sorts of hidden entrances throughout levels, or places only accessible using a certain powerup. This is likely the biggest hook the game has, because it's this stuff that the hardcore players who love a challenge will seek. For everyone else, though, the game, as tight as it feels, ends up feeling somewhat empty.
Two gamers can play through the campaign co-operatively using the 3DS' multi-card download, with the second player of course controlling the green-shirted Luigi, though nothing really changes in terms of what you're doing in any given level.
One addition to the game over the original NSMB thanks to Streetpass is Coin Rush. Here, players are given a single life and three random levels from the story - and I use that term very loosely - to play through.
Each stage has a time limit, and the objective is to gather as many coins as possible. Once the three stages are complete, you can choose to save your coin total, and any other NSMB2 owners you pass on the street can then try to beat your total on the same three levels.
Despite clearly being the most obvious new feature to the Mario canon, Coin Rush seems like it's also really only for the most hardcore players, and even then, it's nothing that's going to be talked about in a decade's time, like features found in previous, revolutionary games like Super Mario 64.
Despite the nitpickings, there is still much to like about NSMB2. The quick levels and general pick-up-and-play feel of the game is tailor-made for a handheld title where people may have to end their play session quickly when their subway stop comes from out of nowhere.
The updated-but-still-cartoon-like graphics are plenty of fun to wash your eyes over, although be warned - the 3D plays very little part in the proceedings, unlike the last 3DS Mario adventure, Super Mario 3D Land. It never gets in the way of beating a particularly tricky part, but it also doesn't make much of a case for belonging on a system that has "3D" in its name.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 is certain to hook series diehards and casual gamers alike, but despite a six year hiatus between the sequel and its predecessor, there's almost nothing new here. In the annals of the storied Super Mario Bros. history, this game will be little more than a blip. Sure, it's in tough company, but that's no excuse for resting on one's laurels.
New Super Mario Bros. 2
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