What is a year without yet another Mario game added to the mix? This year we’re given a bonanza as there will be not one but two New Super Mario Bros games on the 3DS and Wii-U respectively. Last year we were treated to a fabulous re-imagining of the series in Super Mario 3D Land which brought a breath of fresh air to the recently formulaic Mario game series. Does New Super Mario Bros 2, the 3DS entry into the series, continue this trend or is it about time for Mario to go into retirement?
The main game is a decent length with all the usual stuff you’d expect, including hidden worlds and multiple paths to reach the Koopa Castle. One phrase you’ll hear constantly in this review is that you’ll feel like you’re re-treading older games. Nothing has been done to make the design to feel special or particularly memorable. Even though the Mario formula is still solid, the lack of originality hurt the game. Not only do you have the whole backlog of NES, SNES 2D games to play through but this almost entirely copies the first two New Super Mario Bros games, making the whole “New” feel rather oxymoronic. The gimmick of coin collecting adds some power ups like the golden flower that increases your coin consumption and turn blocks into coins, and allows you into some secret areas. There are also block helmets that let’s you quickly collect coins as long as you’re holding them. The problem with the emphasis on coin collecting is the fact every hundred coins nets you a new life, put two and two together you’ll realize that you’ll soon have hundreds of lives completely taking out the challenge in the game. Not only do you get nearly endless lives, if you die a few times you get access to a special raccoon suit that makes Mario nearly invincible. So in the end, the coin gimmick backfires making this game way too easy.
The two player co-op multiplayer featured in the game is quite flawed in design. You can choose any save file to continue on any player’s 3DS with the camera being focused on Mario. The camera’s position is the crux of the whole mode’s problem which definitely screams a half-assed effort, since the co-op was one the best features in the Wii version. The gameplay on the 3DS is zoomed closer to the characters as you’re playing on a smaller screen with a reduced resolution. Since the camera focuses on Mario, Luigi is at the mercy of Mario and has to deal with camera issues which make the game nigh-impossible to play. Not only is the camera an issue, but I’ve also come across some slowdowns which is something that never happened while playing by myself. All these little flaws point to the conclusion that this mode was added in a hackneyed attempt to increase replay value.
Coin Rush is a mode that specifically revolves around coin collecting, really the only part of the game oriented towards the advertised one million coins goal. There isn’t exactly a great challenge to Coin Rush and these are all levels you’ve played before with a faster time limit. Unless you’re intent on reaching the one million goal, there isn’t really much you get here that you wouldn’t get from playing the main game.
The graphics in 2D mode don’t light the world on fire but it’s exactly what you’d expect from a New Super Mario Bros title. What else is there to say besides Mario looks like Mario, Luigi looks like Luigi and the Mushroom Kingdom still looks like the Mushroom Kingdom. The 3D mode leaves a lot to be desired, where all it does give a slight 3D feel while pointlessly taking detail away from the background. I got the sense that the 3D was nothing more than an after thought much like the sound effects taken directly from the Wii and DS games. It goes so far that the help me sound effect in co-op is taken directly from the Wii-Mote sound which is low quality since it was designed to come out of a cheap speaker. Not really much else to complain about, aside from the reusing of assets.
New Super Mario Bros 2 felt neither new, nor the second game in the series. It amounted to a solid effort that doesn’t damage the franchise but doesn’t move it along either. It adds nothing new, nothing you haven’t already played, and will only satisfy those who need a Mario fix.