logan j. fowler gets super…
Six years ago, Nintendo went back to basics, placing Mario in a 2-D gaming adventure called New Super Mario Bros. The return to form was a success for the company, and three years later they expanded upon the idea with New Super Mario Bros. Wii, which allowed you and three other friends to play simultaneously throughout the mushroom kingdom on the way to rescue the princess.
Three years later, the brothers are back on the 3DS in New Super Mario Bros. 2. How to top two successful next generation Mario games? Nintendo doesn’t seem too concerned with such a question, as the game pulls from the previous 2D Mario games so heavily it seems like the company is almost ripping off itself. The music is not different, the level design is still creative but the stages are too short to make an impact, and while the Mario charm will still take over the player, the only new addition-collecting many coins as you can-is not enough to push the franchise further than where it’s already been.
Princess Peach is kidnapped again by those Koopa Kids, and Mario and his bro Luigi are off to save the day. You get old school power ups, like the mushroom, fire flower, and the much loved raccoon suit. The mega mushroom and mini mushroom also come back into play, along with the golden flower which allows Mario and Luigi to clear hoards of blocks or baddies with no trouble. Finally, there is the “block head” power up, which turns the hero’s head into a golden block. You jump, you hit something, you run, and coins appear out of the block. It also acts as a protector of sorts as you won’t lose a power up or minimize if you get hit; rather the block will just disappear and you can go about your business.
In addition to the block head power up, in previous games if you jumped through a red ring, you would have to collect red coins to gain a power up or a 1-up. Now there is a gold ring, which will provide you with money if you hop on a baddie (all of minions turn a bright yellow when you jump through the ring). If you kick a koopa troopa shell while the gold ring power is activated, a trail of coins will appear as the shell keeps moving.
The coin abundance is supposed to bring a creative edge to the game, but after a while the collecting becomes obnoxious. It’s not mandatory, but sometimes you can’t escape the gratuitousness of getting gold. The levels are difficult as you get further in game, but you don’t flinch at dying so much because you earn so many lives due to coin collecting. By the end of the first world, I gained 19 extra lives. If it’s supposed to make the game easier for general players I would guess, but even if that doesn’t work, there still is a golden leaf made available to players to get through stages as an invincible raccoon brother, only if you die five times in a level.
Moving on from game play, graphically NSMB2 looks really good, but only in 2D. Switch to 3D and the background goes extremely blurry. The game doesn’t look too far off from its Wii brother in terms of visuals, which is astounding considering how much power is in the 3DS.
Musically it’s the same as New Super Mario Bros Wii, with little alternative notes or beats here or there. The bad guys still during the tunes at select points, which is always good for a chuckle.
Aside from the single player mode, there is a co-op mode allowing two players to save the princess together. In addition, there is the “coin rush” mode, which is a timed run throughout stages trying to collect many coins as you can. If this was a separate entity and coins were not so frequent in the main game, it may have been a better idea. But despite that, the campaign mode is annoying with the frequent coin grabbing.
Initially, I was turned off by the game because of the near “copy/paste” formula from the other New Super Bros. entries. But as I kept plugging away, the game eventually won over me, because, even though I have a good number of problems with it, it’s still fun. It’s a Mario game, a new installment a series I’ve come to love quite a bit. However, here’s the problem; if I didn’t keep trying with it, I would eventually given it up. If Nintendo doesn’t try to alter the formula in a dramatic way (like the recent Super Mario 3D Land), regardless of how successful the property has been, their die hard older fans may give up for good. And that includes yours truly.