New Super Mario Bros. 2 review
Nintendo is at again. New Super Mario Bros. 2 is yet another revival of the classic 2D Mario style. The game delivers great platforming gameplay, rich and colorful style, enjoyably quirky music, and a fresh new emphasis on coin collection. But when you strip away all of that, what you're left with is a lot of the same Mario side-scrolling we've seen all too often. The novelty has, for all intents and purposes, worn almost entirely thin. That said, it's absolutely impossible to deny the fact that Nintendo has once again crafted an expertly designed 2D platformer.
It would have been fitting if New Super Mario Bros. 2 revisited the land of Subcon, starred Shy Guys and Birdo as primary enemies, and featured weapons such as onions and pumpkins that you could pluck from the ground. This game could have been a revival of Super Mario Bros. 2, Nintendo's dark horse in the Mario franchise, and maybe it should have. Instead, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is once again a story about how Mario and Luigi need to destroy Bowser and save Princess Peach. The game doesn't suffer for that, because it's an expected formula, but the fact remains that there's absolutely nothing memorable about Peach being kidnapped at this point.
While it may seem that I'm being critical of the story in New Super Mario Bros. 2, it goes without saying that no one plays Mario games to experience a riveting plot. We play Mario games because they're mighty impressive platformers, and the portly Italian plumber's latest outing is no exception. Levels are a sheer joy to play through, with enemies, pitfalls, and secrets at every corner. As a matter of fact, that level of discovery is possibly greater than ever before. New Super Mario Bros. 2 revolves around coin collection, and you'll be surprised at just how many ways you'll be able to snag the precious golden Mushroom Kingdom currency.
Practically everything you do in New Super Mario Bros. 2 rewards you with coins. Defeating enemies using fireballs will score you coins. Going to hard-to-reach areas within levels will cause walls of coins to magically appear nearby. Going through a coin ring will result in baddies yielding even more coins. It's all about the coins in New Super Mario Bros. 2, and this is evident from the very beginning of the game. There are even new power-ups that help fill Mario's pockets with more gold. The prize block, for example, is a golden item that goes on Mario's head, and the faster he runs, the more coins it yields. Then there's the golden fire flower, which works like the regular fire flower, except that shooting regular blocks results in a sea of coins for the protagonist to collect.
This whole theme of greed carries over to every mode in New Super Mario Bros. 2. Coin Rush mode tosses you into three randomly selected levels, and you're tasked with snagging as many coins as possible within a set amount of time before reaching the goal. This is a decent distraction from the main mode, but it serves mostly to continue racking up your coin count, which the game constantly reminds you of in an attempt to entice you to reach the one million coin mark. If you want to team up with a buddy, you'll be glad to know that New Super Mario Bros. 2 features two-player co-op for its story mode. The only hitches are that this component only supports local play, and both individuals need a copy of the game. Trust us however, like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, playing co-op can be an infuriating experience, as you'll constantly be killing each other off by sheer mistake.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 looks about as great as it plays. Everything in the game is rich in color, and the levels themselves have that signature Mario charm. Throw in the massive amounts of gold you see throughout the entire experience, and New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a fine-looking game. As far as the 3D effect is concerned, I've heard some people say they weren't fans of it due to the blurred out backgrounds that add a bit of depth perception. Personally, I enjoyed playing New Super Mario Bros. 2 with the 3D effect turned all the way up because that added depth makes the foregrounds pop a bit more.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a great Mario game for 3DS owners who want exactly that. Despite the emphasis on coin collection, it doesn't add much that's new to the formula. You're still getting fire flowers and raccoon leaves, bouncy mushrooms and falling platforms, Goombas and Koopalings. But bearing in mind the fact that we've seen Nintendo do it all before with the Mario franchise, this is still a great platforming romp. Playing through the six main worlds and unlocking a couple of extra worlds is a great deal of fun. Running around like a greedy treasure hunter (read: Wario) is addictive, and it may be a mindless addiction, but it's ridiculously enjoyable nonetheless.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 is exactly what we all expected it to be: It's a superb Mario game that does a lot of things right and hardly anything wrong. Maybe "new" shouldn't be a part of the game's title because there's really nothing here that Nintendo hasn't done before. That said, if you're a fan of the series, or if you're a 3DS owner looking for some wholesome fun, you really can't go wrong with New Super Mario Bros. 2. Now, let's just hope that when Nintendo makes another one of these games after New Super Mario Bros. U, it'll actually take place in Subcon.
For a bunch of indie game and burrito talk, follow @thesanchezdavid on Twitter.