Looking Ahead @ August 2012 – NSMB2, 3DS XL Launch in North America

Editor’s Note: Just before the start of each month, I will “look ahead” at the upcoming games that are slated for release; then, taking into account the general level of anticipation and the “buzz” within the media, I will select a handful of titles (two to four) that could be worth checking out when launch day finally comes around. Every month, this column will pinpoint the “cream of the crop”, so to speak – just keep your eyes peeled for the games mentioned here!

After dropping both Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy and Heroes of Ruin earlier this month, Square-Enix will finish up its triage of new 3DS releases with Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance on July 31. The month of July has been pretty exciting, though the reception for Heroes of Ruin was disappointing, and drove me away from picking up the game as I had originally planned. On the other hand, Theatrhythm was an amazing surprise – I’ll share more about my thoughts on the Final Fantasy spin-off in my full review.

Heading into August, there are some equally-exciting points of interest, but not nearly as many games to look forward to. That being said, it’s not much of a problem when the only game happens to be a brand-new installment of the Super Mario Bros. series. New Super Mario Bros. 2 is slated for an August 19 release, and should be more than enough to satisfy the “core” fans as well as the casual players looking for something new after finishing up Super Mario 3D Land.

…and then there’s the 3DS XL; the brand new re-design will be available in North America on the same day as NSMB 2. Though it seems obvious that the target audience is slightly different than the original 3DS, the thought of “upgrading” has to be in the back of any current 3DS owner’s mind. With all of that in mind, here are more details about the big releases for August 2012:

  • New Super Mario Bros. 2 (August 19)

    What is it? This upcoming Mario title is basically a sequel to New Super Mario Bros. (NDS) and its console follow-up, NSMB Wii. Though it isn’t quite as focused on its multiplayer component as its Wii predecessor, NSMB 2 takes a unique approach with its traditional side-scrolling action and its familiar Super Mario Bros. mechanics. More than ever before, the game is based around collecting coins – in fact, one of its biggest new features is the “Coin Rush” mode. With this option, players can utilize the 3DS StreetPass function and enjoy an intriguing twist on the tried-and-true platforming.

    Why should you care? Aside from the fact that most of the Super Mario Bros. titles are pretty damn good, New Super Mario Bros. 2 looks to be one of the better installments for multiplayer purposes. Players can enjoy the single-player levels in a co-op mode, with the second player controlling Luigi instead of Mario. The Coin Rush mode is based on finishing three levels on a single life, collecting as many coins and reaching the finish as quickly as possible. To make things interesting, high scores in Coin Rush can be transferred wirelessly utilizing the StreetPass function; I am excited to see how this pans out over time. Finally, NSMB 2 is Nintendo’s very first simultaneous retail/digital release; on August 19, consumers can pick up either a hard copy from their local retailer, or download a digital version through the Nintendo eShop. The price ($39.99) is the same for both versions, but digital customers do have the incentive of receiving double Club Nintendo coins (100, rather than 50 – not bad) just for downloading their copy.

    Why should you wait? Unless you aren’t interested in playing another Mario title, there isn’t much of a reason to put off the purchase of New Super Mario Bros. 2. As is the case with almost every first-party title, the price will likely stay cemented at $39.99 for quite some time. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few review scores dip lower than usual, but overall, I anticipate the same acclaim for NSMB 2 as most of the Mario games that came before it.

  • Nintendo 3DS XL (August 19)

    What is it? The Nintendo 3DS XL is a “re-design” of the original 3DS model; it features screens that are 90% larger, a longer battery life, improved Start/Select/Home buttons, and more. The 3DS XL will cost $199.99, and arrives in North America the same day as New Super Mario Bros. 2 (August 19).

    Why should you care? Well, if you look at the image above, you can see that the 3DS XL literally dwarfs the original 3DS. If you are interested in experiencing the very biggest, brightest, and best display with the 3D screen, the XL version is actually not incredibly expensive – just $20 more than the original version. The longer battery life solves one of the 3DS’s biggest hardware-based problems, and the thinner, rounded design of the 3DS XL is undeniably sexy when compared to the rigid 3DS.

    Why should you wait? I can really only speak for myself; if you don’t own a Nintendo 3DS, the 3DS XL is an option that should be highly considered, even it if means waiting a few more weeks. I think it sounds like a great deal, but personally, many of my favorite parts of the 3DS have been based around its easy portability: Play Coins, StreetPass, easy WiFi access, etc. The fact that the XL is so much larger just means that it is going to be harder to carry around safely, which was already one of my biggest concerns when I originally purchased my 3DS last summer. Now that I am comfortable with the idea of carrying my 3DS everywhere, I have maximized the chances of connecting to other players and enjoying all the content available on the system. I have no intentions of limiting that potential with a larger version of the 3DS – when the time comes around and I think it makes sense to upgrade, I won’t hesitate.

Other August releases:

    eShop/Virtual Console – Sonic Blast (TBA)
    eShop/Virtual Console – Sonic Labyrinth (TBA)
    eShop – 3D Solitaire (8/2)
    eShop – Touch Battle Tank 3D (8/9)
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