August 16, 2012

Review – New Super Mario Bros. 2

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 8:47 am

Review New Super Mario Bros. 2
I’ve been fighting the Koopalings for so long now that I can barely remember what the original fight was about – though I’m pretty sure it had something to do with stolen Yoshi eggs.

Anyway, the kids have once again returned to kidnap the Princess and hold her hostage in a series of castles spread across the familiar territories of the Mushroom Kingdom. And once again, absolutely none of that really matters once you sink your teeth into the meat of the game. Mario’s narrative continues to unfold across the stages that stand between the player and each brief reunion with Princess Peach, each one offering stories well known to gamers and yet still bright with the design artistry expected from Nintendo’s key franchise.

This time around, Nintendo has added a peculiar hook by placing a strange emphasis on coins. Each stage is obsessed with filling the screen with the signature pickup, with coins raining from pipes and enemies alike, and sometimes even sprouting out of Mario’s transformed blockhead. The hook is peculiar for a series typically using transformations or sidekicks as a means of adding more layers to the stage formula, perhaps more-so because coins have always served as a simple means of gaining more lives, and the casual nature of Mario games rarely creates an intense incentive for collecting as many as possible. If I can grab some coins I do, but there’s never been much of a reason to get OCD about the matter.

The game keeps a tally of the player’s overall coin collecting habits and gets terribly excited about ever increasing sums. But the hook serves more to provide spectacle within stages, often turning enemies into the means for financial gains and attempting to fill the screen with a friendlier form of chaos. And while none of this drove me to start gathering coins beyond normal habits, it did often add a fresh coat of paint to the well worn canvas.

What kept me engaged however, was that for the first time in a very long spell, stages feel slightly more energetic, presenting more deviations and variety even while remixing such familiar trappings. It’s a funny and difficult matter to define because nostalgia certainly plays the biggest part in my belief that Nintendo has never topped the rich magic of Super Mario World. And yet this is the closest that I’ve felt a connection to that link from the past, despite the resistance to creating a map even remotely as charming as the one that lives on in my childhood memories of better days gone by on the Donut Plains.

Perhaps the familiar rhino mini-bosses are feeding my nostalgia this week with their looping appearance here.

Stages always provide a straight forward path, but the temptation to veer down a different road feels more available and visible. On the flipside, Ghost Houses seem more enthusiastic about screwing with you by failing to present an obvious path, and even castles feel more inclined to kill Mario – though I wouldn’t suggest this is Mario’s most difficult outing by any stretch. There’s even a bit more energy on display in the boss encounters, which still abide by the hit-in-the-head-three-times rule, but shake up the accompanying dangers toward reaching that goal – though there is still plenty wanting here.

I managed to blow through the standard worlds in two days of broken gameplay, though it’s worth noting that it certainly helps that players don’t require Star Coins to open standard stages – and I appreciate that decision. Those sacred coins are reserved for opening item houses and other secret destinations, and I prefer being given the choice of working harder to unlock secrets rather than being forced to grind through the main stages.

There’s less of an emphasis on power-ups this time around – I never felt forced to use a mini-mushroom, though there are certainly secret opportunities that require the right power-up for the job. But most of the time a raccoon tail is adequate for dispatching enemies and helpful in reaching higher points.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 adds a Coin Rush Mode along with the multiplayer option, offering players a chance to race through sets of stages to collect as many coins as possible, and I’m still rather shocked that I keep revisiting the feature based on previous disinterest with added options in other Mario titles.

So, aside from the obvious fact that I’m dreadful at summing up a Mario experience despite and perhaps because of a strong affinity for the series, all I can really say is that this is the first of the new portable Mario platformers I’m likely to carry around for repeat sessions. The nostalgia beam is less narrow that the original release, pulling at a wider series of threads while attempting to shake up new signs of life with delightfully ridiculous sights along the way, and the result seems to be agreeing with my thumbs, even if it still feels far short of the leaps and bounds the series once grew by.

Nintendo EAD


Nintendo 3DS

Singleplayer, Multiplayer

Release Date
August 19, 2012

*A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review


  1. Maybes its because I grew up as a SEGA kid, weaned on the sweet blue hedgehoggy milk of ‘rings = HP and access to bonus stages’  but I dont really get the coins thing, do you get anything out of collecting them outside of extra lives? I mean, to justify this game being coin happy?

    Comment by AngelosLH — August 16, 2012 @ 9:00 am

  2. Are you supposta to drink blue milk?

    I’ve been led to believe if you collect a million coins here there’s something, but whether that something is something worth the trouble remains a mystery because, well, I haven’t collected a million yet.

    Comment by Jamie Love — August 16, 2012 @ 9:09 am

  3. Great review Jamie!

    @AngelosLH 1 million coins collected gets you a “congratulations” and a new title screen.

    I’m getting the game from the eshop since it will give me double coins for Club Nintendo, and this is they type of game I can see myself replaying over and over again.

    Comment by EdEN — August 16, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress