What NSMB 2 Got Right
- + Fantastic controls
- + Coin Rush mode works well
- + Return of flying Mario is perfect
- + Smooth frame-rates and no 3D
What NSMB 2 Got Wrong
- - Rehashes a bunch of elements
- - Level design feels uninspired at times
- - Repetitive castles are a bore
- - Fails to deliver innovation
When it comes to gaming perfection, few series can come close to what Mario has achieved. For over two and a half decades, the loveable plumber has been the face of innovation, producing some of the most important games of all time. A new major Mario title often brings the perfect mix of tried-and-true gameplay along with exciting and innovative features that make it stand out as a memorable experience.
While New Super Mario Bros. 2 certainly brings back the tried-and-true gameplay by the truckload, it ultimately fails to bring us anything that is truly new or exciting, often feeling like a rehash rather than a new adventure.
The story is the same as always; Princess Peach was minding her own business when that evil Bowser stormed into the Mushroom Kingdom, kidnapping her and leaving Mario and Luigi to come find her after stomping on every enemy in sight. The tale feels as old as time itself, and while there has never been any real variance in the past, for some reason it feels older than ever before in NSMB 2, some variety would have been nice.
The same could be said about the level design, which on a whole is rather lacklustre. The game features a number of locations that have been reused from New Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. Wii, with a number of levels lacking any real flash or inspiration. That’s not to say they aren’t well designed; as expected from a Mario adventure you’ll have turtles placed in madingley locations that must be hit precisely to reach that extra high Star Coin that will eat at you for a good fifteen minutes before you can claim success. However seeing so many familiar locations again and again is getting old and fails to excite players as they did a few years ago.
The most apparent of these uninspired levels would have to be the first castles on each and every world. Nine times out of ten they will feature a slowly rising platform that will take you to the top where you will fight the first mini-boss of that world. These levels all bleed into one another, without ever really standing out and they honestly feel rather annoying. After making your way to the top of these tedious stages you are faced with a number of bellowing rhinos who can be taken down without taking a breath. The same pattern happens on each and every single world, and it comes off feeling rather lazy to be honest.
The big feature with NSMB 2 is the never ending quest to collect one million coins. While it may not sound that impressive on paper, it actually adds quite a lot to the experience, a reason to keep challenging yourself to collect as many as humanly possible within a level. Thankfully reaching that one million mark isn’t impossible; now coins will be literally everywhere, along with hidden blocks and some new power-ups that cause enemies to literally spew coins at you.
A golden ring will cause all your enemies to turn yellow, with kicked turtle shells leaving a trail of coins behind them as they speed across the stage. The idea is to create combos to earn more coins and reap the rewards in the short time you have. There is also a golden fire flower that will have you literally turning your enemies and innocent bricks into a wad of coins for your collection. Add this to the coin brick that you can wear on your head, that throws out coins in time with your movement speed, and all of a sudden you’ll find yourself collecting five hundred coins on every level.
As most gamers would be aware, collecting one hundred coins will give you an extra life, and due to the increased coin activity, I found myself with over sixty lives before long. That is just preposterous, not to mention that the game tends to be handing out 1UPs every opportunity it gets. This makes the game far too easy, and the mere thought of failure virtually impossible.
The developers have included two-player co-op for the first time on handheld devices, but more often than not it comes off as frustrating rather than enjoyable. Even when playing with someone of a similar skill level, the lack of screen distance allowable between the two characters quickly becomes a problem, and the game becomes more focused on sticking together rather than enjoying the action. It’s not broken, it’s just not very good either.
Coin Rush is where the real action is; a mode that picks three levels at random, gives you one hundred seconds to complete them and collect as many coins as you can. Speed runs are always a great challenge, but trying to keep your coin level high adds an extra challenge. If you die once, despite which level you are on, the game is over and your score won’t be posted. Once you get a score you can share it via SpotPass as you challenge your friends. Nintendo have already confirmed DLC for this portion of the game, which should certainly give it some legs with an online community.
The Final Verdict
This review may sound like New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a bad game, but that is not the case. Despite its flaws, and the fact that it feels more like a rehash than a new adventure, Mario still provides some of the best platforming to ever grace a gaming console. It still has great platforming, the same characters we love and the addition of Coin Rush is a fantastic initiative as Nintendo head towards online gaming. However, when you really examine the game as a whole, there really isn’t that much NEW content inside, which is more than a little disappointing.