New Super Mario Bros 2 Review
I could spend the next 700 or so words taking you through how to play a Super Mario Bros game. Rattling on about jump distances, power ups and secret areas. Thing is, everybody has played one. Almost every generation of gamer has begun their journey finding out that the princess was in another castle all along. In fact, they mostly play the same. Traverse the level’s obstacles, grab some mushrooms and fire flowers, stumble upon a secret, collect some coins, jump to a flagpole.
When you go back to Mario you always get the same feelings. Nailing that jump. Hearing that 1up sound. Mercilessly stomping on a koopa, despite the poor bastard just wandering towards you. However, it’s none of these that keep people coming back to Super Mario games time after time. Each entry in the series brings something new to the table. Mario 64 brought forth a gaming revolution with a fully fledged 3D environments. Galaxy flipped Mario on his head, literally. New SMB for the Wii gave us four player action. Super Mario Sunshine gave us, well, a water pistol. Because, you know, Miyamoto.
See, that’s the thing about New Super Mario Bros 2 for the 3DS, it doesn’t have that spark, that X-factor that makes other Mario titles absolute must buys. On the other hand, the game still plays just a good as any other game in the lengthy series, so it’s hard to find much to complain about.
Save yourself some battery power and keep the 3D slider down. That’s a Hard Reset pro tip!
This games thing is collecting coins. Nintendo have taken what was a small aside and turned it into the device that keeps you coming back. The tiny golden discs are literally everywhere. Every block, every box, every enemy. Erupting from holes in the ground and even erupting from Mario’s head. Yes, even all the new power ups are coin based. The coin block leaves trails of sparkling currency and he runs and jumps. A golden flower turns everything around him into gold, like a squat little midas. The golden rings turn into enemies into, well, golden enemies, providing even more coinage.
The classic Mario power ups are back too. The Fire Flower, the Starman, the Super Mushroom are all here. The Invincibility leaf (or YouSuck Leaf) is back from Super Mario 3D Land and the Mega/Mini Mushrooms make an appearance from the original New Super Mario Bros, although their inclusion is rather sparse.
Mario games have always have a colourful art style and New Super Mario Bros 2 doesn’t break the tradition, bringing the whimsy at every opportunity. In fact the game pops on my original 3DS screen, however that comes with a warning. Turn up the 3D slider and the background simply blurs giving you almost zero 3D effect and losing the awesome artwork that appears behind Mario in every stage. Where Super Mario 3D Land felt built for the console – with levels requiring the 3D to be cranked up – New Super Mario Bros 2 feels like it could have been on any Nintendo platform. Save yourself some battery power and keep the 3D slider down. That’s a Hard Reset pro tip!
As usual, Mario controls like a dream. The weight behind his movement and jumping feels fantastic. The level design is similarly astounding, playing to Mario’s strengths and your weaknesses. Among the themed levels (Watery, Firey etc) you’ll come across upscrolling castle levels and haunted house levels, the latter of which adds a tremendous puzzle mechanic to the platforming. There are tonnes of secrets too. Most levels have hidden areas or paths, some have secondary exits that take you to any entirely new world. With a touch of OCD, you’ll be scouring every inch of every map.
The game still plays just as good as any other in the lengthy series
New Super Mario Bros 2 also has co-op and competitive modes. During the co-op modes, your friend will turn up as Luigi. It’s fun but the camera has trouble keeping both of you on screen at once. The coin rush mode allows you to challenge people over Streetpass to see how many coins you can gather over three randomised levels under a time limit. It adds a little length to the much needed five to six hour campaign, but does feel a little tacked on.
Despite the simple perfection of platforming that is NSMB2, it’s hard to feel that it’s worth a play. It’s a good as any 2D platformer is going to get, possibly the best you’re going to get on the 3DS, but it’s hard not be disappointed by the distinct lack of reinvention. The Mario standard is so high that New Super Mario Bros 2 just comes off as average.