Up Up Down Down: New Super Mario Bros. 2
Over the past couple of weeks, Up Up Down Down has been solely fixated on the New Super Mario Bros. games. Thus far the spotlight has focused on New Super Mario Bros. for the DS and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. This week, we're going back to handhelds with New Super Mario Bros. 2, which launched for the 3DS in 2012. While an overall solid platformer — hell, it could even be considered a great platformer — a lot of the magic that the previous two games encapsulated was pretty much gone with this installment.
Let's jump right into the coin-filled world of New Super Mario Bros. 2 and see what there is to love and hate about it.
Up Up: Coins everywhere!
When you think about Mario, platforming is the main focus. New Super Mario Bros. 2 is different in that its primary focus is on filling the screen with golden coins. There are literally coins everywhere, and even mundane tasks such as hitting blocks or jumping over pipes reward you with oodles of the Mushroom Kingdom currency. Sometimes you'll jump over a small space or reach a high ledge, and coins will appear out of nowhere. Even power-ups have been tweaked to give you more coins. There's a pleasant Wario-ness to the greedy nature of New Super Mario Bros. 2.
Down Down: You eventually realize the coin thing is kind of gimmicky
There's something just flat-out euphoric about hearing the sound of coins jangling as you collect hundreds upon hundreds of them. That said, after a couple of hours playing the game, the sheer gimmickry of it all becomes apparent. That's not to say that collecting more coins than you could imagine isn't fun, but it's not exactly groundbreaking, either.
Up Up: The whole thing is nice and shiny
Once again, we've got a Mario game that sports a pretty aesthetic. It's not exactly a wholly original graphical direction for the series, but the visual design of New Super Mario Bros. 2 is cheery and colorful nonetheless. In addition, all of those gold coins incorporate a nice sheen to the levels that wasn't really there before. Throw in the fact that the 3DS is a decent piece of portable hardware, and you've got quite the attractive handheld Mario title.
Down Down: 3D effect may leave some players feeling underwhelmed
I actually like the 3D effect of New Super Mario Bros. 2. It's subtle and subdued, but it helps create a nice depth and draw distance. Switch on the 3D option, and backgrounds become a bit blurry, creating a distant illusion. The problem, however, is that the game doesn't exactly pop out the way some players would like it to. Even though I enjoy the 3D in this game, I can't help but think that it would all look much better if it just popped out a bit more and really took advantage of that 3DS tech.
Up Up: It's fun, even if it's too familiar
Make no mistake about it, this is Mario at its most familiar. That can either be a really good thing or a really bad thing. On the one hand, the familiarity is a bit redundant at this point. On the other hand, being able to take a Mario platformer on the go with you — or even just sitting on the couch and busting out your 3DS — makes for a nice dose of entertainment. The platforming is fun, the challenge is decent, and witnessing all of the charming levels is just a really great time.
Down Down: Extra modes aren't that great
Some additional modes are included in New Super Mario Bros. 2 for good measure. You've got a two-player co-op component that you'll either love or hate depending on how you feel about multiplayer in your Mario games. There's also Coin Rush mode, which challenges you to grab as many coins as possible across a collection of levels before the time limit runs out. Both of these modes are okay distractions, but that's all they really are.
Left Right Left Right: New Super Mario Bros. 2 is fun but unoriginal
Chances are if you play New Super Mario Bros. 2, you'll have a great time. I know I did. After I got through the game, though, I wasn't exactly left wanting more. I didn't feel the need to revisit past stages or seek out hidden exits. I sure as hell didn't want to reach the game's ridiculous 1 million coin goal. The overall lack of originality is such that you're bound to have a good deal of fun with it, but ultimately, if you've been keeping up with the series, you may want to take a break after this one.
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