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New Super Mario Bros. 2 review

- August 23rd, 2012

Good? Sure. But “new”?

New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the Nintendo 3DS arrived in North America this past weekend (why does Nintendo release its stuff on Sundays, rather than industry standard game-drop Tuesdays? It’s always creeped me out) and the latest Mario entry—a follow-up to 2006’s New Super Mario Bros. for the DS and 2009’s New Super Mario Bros. Wii—has sold nearly a million copies in Japan since its release there July 28.

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As the first ‘full’ retail Nintendo game released day one as a digital download on the 3DS eShop alongside in-store copies, NSMB 2 should put up big numbers here, too.

No great prophecy there, though—it’s freaking Mario. New installments in the most successful game franchise of all time are destined for success before a single moustache sprite is drawn. That said, the Big N generally isn’t one to rest on its laurels, going after quick cash-ins on the strength of name recognition—every Mario release is well put together, and several are legendary.

But some fans and game reviewers have lamented this past week that New Super Mario Bros. 2 lacks the innovation of Mario’s first proper 3DS romp, Super Mario 3D Land, and is essentially just more New Super Mario Bros (and thus not really new) and less impressive this time around. But others are yelling back that it doesn’t matter; that game was awesome, and so is this one, you entitled idiots.

I tend to agree with the latter. I love the old-school, and New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a top-shelf platformer that nails the basics. It does dozens of little things right, in terms of rhythm and pacing and level design, features more than 80 stages, and offers decent replay value. For gamers looking for something fun to do with their 3DS, it’s a safe and solid pick.

Gameplay is traditional 2D platform-hopping (though as it’s a 3DS game, it makes use of striking stereoscopic 3D effects, which you can turn off, if you start going cross-eyed). You’ll jump, you’ll stomp. You’ll find invisible blocks to reach hidden exits in hard-to-reach pipes. You’ll relive past glory—the arrowed ‘P’ gauge from Super Mario 3 (which indicates when Raccoon Mario can fly) makes a return and made me smile—you’ll jump on flagpoles, and you’ll save Princess Peach whom Bowser has stashed in—get this—a castle. No, not this castle…

There’s the usual Mario smorgasbord of environments (grassy plains, sewers, underwater caverns, ghost houses) and mushroom houses containing power-ups, and lots of Goombas to squish and tricky jumps to perfect and chain link fences to punch turtles from.

And coins—So. Many. Freaking. Coins.

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A coin-collecting mechanic (with a global coin counter) is front and centre, and virtually anything in the game—blocks, enemies, areas of thin air—can explode into coins. If you like loot-collecting, and the rapid pulse of that timeless Mario coin pickup sound effect makes you feel good in the pants, you’ll dig it.

There are also your standard three Star Coins per level to track down, optional 2-player co-op (a friend with a 3DS and a copy of the game can hop in as Luigi and disorient you while you line up those tricky jumps) and a new mode, Coin Rush, in which you run three-stage sequences collecting as many coins as possible. Coin Rush scores can be compared with friends via SpotPass, and all proceeds count toward your monumental quest for 1 million coins, an optional undertaking for the insane.

The game doesn’t break much new ground but it’s solid—period. Those looking for something cutting edge and genre-stretching (think 3D Land, Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy, Paper Mario) might be a little let down—everything that’s old isn’t new again just because you stick the word ‘new’ in the title. Then again, that such a conversation must take place speaks to the fact Nintendo EAD (the company’s Mario development team) is held to a higher standard than most, because they’ve knocked it out of the park so many times.

New Super Mario Bros. 2
Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo EAD, Nintendo
Rated ‘E’ for everyone
4 out of 5 stars

 ”Side Mission” Chris Vandergaag loves hearing from Canadian gamers, both the core and the casual. Follow him on Twitter: @ButNoSeriously

 

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