Being skeptical about an upcoming Mario game was an unsettling feeling, but I was hardly thrilled about New Super Mario Bros. 2 in the weeks leading up to its release. Fortunately, it only lasted about ten minutes after I started playing the latest 3DS Mario title – the feeling of nostalgia was overwhelming, and I was sheepishly grinning as I ran and jumped through each of the familiar stages. Sadly, my original feelings of doubt soon returned when I realized that NSMB2 really struggles to be worth its weight in gold.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 General Information:
- Developed and Published by Nintendo
- Released on August 19, 2012
- Price: $39.99 (MSRP, Nintendo eShop), $34.99 (Pre-Owned @ GameStop.com)
Summary ~ Cha-CHING!
To no one’s surprise, New Super Mario Bros. 2 really stretches the meaning of the word “New” and instead falls back to its roots, much like the other NSMB titles. The game is by all means “familiar” and “traditional”, which is great – everyone likes Mario – but perhaps more than ever, NSMB2 blatantly falls back on past level designs and content.
The very few mechanics that are unique to this 3DS game – mostly found in its Coin Rush mode – tread closer to Sonic the Hedgehog territory than what one would normally expect in a Mario title. The pace of the platforming is increased and the game becomes more focused on collecting the copious amounts of coins that are scattered or otherwise hidden in each stage. It almost feels like an “Arcade Mode” version of an 8- or 16-bit Super Mario Bros. game – gamers can even compare their high scores from Coin Rush with other players, sending data with the StreetPass function.
- NSMB2’s “Coin Rush” mode is certainly a breath of fresh air, at least for the Mario franchise. It encourages players to speed up the pace, find and remember the location of hidden secrets, and “master” each stage. Again, this almost makes it feel more like a Sonic the Hedgehog game than any Mario title to date, but it isn’t really a bad thing.
- The levels in New Super Mario Bros. 2 are are reminiscent of previous games in the series, from the visual design to the various obstacles and platforming challenges you encounter. They are also some of the trickiest to date, particularly some of the ghost houses, castles, and underwater levels. Once again, part of the fun in each stage is collecting all three hidden Star Coins – and they can be incredibly tough to find in this game.
- The 3D effects of the handheld are not as central to the focus of NSMB2’s gameplay, and make less of an impact…that being said, the graphics are absolutely gorgeous. This game looks very colorful, crisp, and is full of that undeniably-lovable Mario charm. The 3D models for the characters and baddies really pop out of the screen, and are animated very well. The glistening effect of the coins is beautiful, and really helps to make the game “shine” – no pun intended.
- NSMB2 definitely feels like a classic Mario title, at least when thinking about the controls and the “slippery” running and jumping with Mario. Where Super Mario 3D Land was built around the tightness of the 3D Mario titles, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is definitely most like SMB3 and SMW. I was happy to see Mario’s abilities now include most of the core platforming moves from most of the franchise, from the triple jump and wall-jump to the ground-pound and the ability to throw Koopa Troopa shells.
I Didn’t Like:
- NSMB2’s biggest downfall is that it ultimately feels like it lacks content. This is hard to protest, considering that there are only 6 worlds to play, and only 3 hidden ones to unlock. Even with the addition of co-op play and Coin Rush mode, the $39.99 price tag is pretty high. Most of the game can be experienced within 10 hours, so it doesn’t have the replay value that I enjoyed so much with the 8 Secret Worlds in Super Mario 3D Land.
- This is a small complaint, but it is worth mentioning that the “boss” for each of the smaller castle stages is almost too easy to be taken seriously. There were certainly parts of NSMB2 that were frustratingly tough to complete, but I really expected more of a fight in some of these areas.
Recommendation: Play it.
It is pretty tough to recommend purchasing New Super Mario Bros. 2 to anyone but the most dedicated Mario fan – it just doesn’t offer enough unique content to satisfy its MSRP. That being said, it’s definitely a solid game, and the focus on collecting coins and putting up high scores in Coin Rush mode makes NSMB2 feel pretty different than the original for the Nintendo DS, or even the Wii version. Fans of the classic 8-/16-bit games will appreciate the ability to fly properly with the Super Leaf, and they will enjoy the tricky stage designs of many of the levels – but at the end of the day, I was still wishing that this one retailed for $20-30.
As a final comment; the “purchaser’s remorse” of buying New Super Mario Bros. 2 was unexpected, and perhaps the first indication I have ever seen that Nintendo should consider a new approach with its most iconic franchise. For example, if NSMB2 had been released as a two-part download on the eShop – perhaps the single-player for $20, and the co-op/Coin Rush for $10-15 – it would have been a much better value. Instead, the limited content stands out as a glaring reason not to purchase it. With Nintendo of America’s own Reggie Fils-Aime admitting that he is more or less “afraid” of the dedicated Nintendo fanbase, worried that the company cannot satisfy the appetites of the core market, the release of NSMB2 seems somewhat odd. As a Mario fan, it is tough to feel completely taken advantage of – it’s still a solid 3DS game – but I ultimately couldn’t shake the feeling that I had been charged a premium price for a minimal amount of content.
Replay Value: (6.5/10)
Final Score: 7.8/10