Developer: Nintendo EAD
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Hours Played: 14
Progress: Beat game and earned all five shiny save file stars
Being the highest selling video game franchise of all time, there’s a lot of pressure on each new main-line Super Mario game release to outdo its storied ancestry and introduce enough new elements to justify its existence. Even more onus than usual falls upon New Super Mario Bros. 2, as the New Super Mario Bros. series already has two entries that are arguably too similar to one another and an additional New Super Mario Bros. game is likely due for the Wii U by the end of the year. Was Nintendo able to put out another gem of a Mario game with NSMB2, or is it just saturating the market with carbon-copy platformers for profit’s sake? Read on to find out what our 14 hours of hopping and coin collecting revealed.
- Super Mario games are traditionally light on story, New Super Mario games even more so, but NSMB2 more or less wins the award for “Least Attempt At A Narrative, All Things Considered”. The story is as follows, the Koopalings capture Princess Peach. Yep, that’s it.
- There is no attempt to explain the Mario brothers’ sudden Wario-like coin hunger. There just happen to be more coins and the game just happens to keep track of your coin total.
- The gameplay in NSMB2 is pretty much the same as any 2D Mario game and more-or-less exactly the same as its two New Super Mario Bros. predecessors.
- New elements added to the gameplay this time around include: the Tanooki Leaf makes its return and gives you proper flying powers unlike its equivalent in Super Mario 3D Land, the Gold Flower (which I have heard called the Midas Flower, which I think is a far superior name) turns Mario/Luigi into Gold/Silver respectively and gives them the power to launch large fire-Mario-like fireballs that explode nearby blocks and enemies into coins, the Gold Mushroom that awards 50 coins in Coin Rush mode, Coin Rush mode where you take on three random levels from certain World sets to see how many coins you can collect in one playthrough, and Moon Coins (much like star coins) only available in Star World that is unlocked after beating Bowser in World 6.
- Notably missing, unfortunately, are the new features introduced in NSMB Wii including Yoshis, Penguin Suits, and Propeller suits.
- As always, there are three star coins to collect per level, plus a ton of secret exits (some of which unlock secret levels), so there is a decent amount of content in NSMB 2 in spite of its general same-y feeling.
- We only had one copy of the game to test, so we didn’t end up trying co-op mode, but we imagine it would be a lot like that in NSMB Wii with the notable exception of how control of the camera has been made a competitive element for some reason.
- The graphics are visibly better than those in the DS NSMB, but with the significant pixellation/aliasing caused by the 3DS screen, I couldn’t say that it looks as good as NSMB Wii, even when that game is played on an HDTV. Nintendo needs to realize that having low pixel density screens is just as bad, if not worse, than the problem Wii owners face with HDTVs. The larger screen of the 3DS XL unfortunately increases the aliasing issue of this game further even though it makes most other 3DS games look a lot better.
- Aliasing aside, everything looks like it has a good helping of polygons and nothing else seems bad-quality.
- The 3D effects are nothing to write home about. Adjusting the depth-slider makes the background appear more blurry and slightly further back, but nothing really pops.
- It’s worthy of note that probably about 70% or more of the assets in the game (sprites, environmental elements, etc.) have just been plain copied over from the previous two NSMB games.
- A great deal of the music in NSMB 2 suffers from the same fate as the graphics insofar as they’re more-or-less copied from the game’s two predecessors and nothing that is new sticks out in any meaningful way.
- A third or more of my 14 hours with the game came from collecting all of the Star/Moon coins and finding all of the secret exits on every level. So, there is a decent Usagi Factor to the game, but it’s almost expected that you do them or your play time would be rather low.
- By finding all of the secret exits, collecting every Star/Moon coin, defeating Bowser in World 6, earning 1110 lives, and completing all of the levels without using the Invincibility Leaf you earn 5 shiny gold stars for your save file that are shown off to the people that you StreetPass.
- Coin Rush mode is the final thing that adds Usagi Factor to NSMB 2, I explained its general mechanics earlier, but what happens when you StreetPass someone is that their record in Coin Rush is hidden until you try your hand at the same 3 levels that they encountered. After that, your scores are compared and if you were able to beat their record you get a Crown coin that serves no other practical purpose.
While still full of classic Mario fun and sporting a few cool additions, NSMB 2 follows the trend of being far too much like its predecessors and ends up feeling a tad tired in the process. Both easier and less generally impressive than the other members of its New Super Mario Bros. lineage, I can’t recommend NSMB 2 over the more original Super Mario 3D Land or even likely New Super Mario Bros. U from what we were able to play at E3. If you’re looking for a small distraction while waiting for Borderlands 2 or the Wii U, or are highly competitive and have a lot of people to either play co-op or StreetPass with, then by all means pick this game up, but if you’re looking for a stand-out Mario experience, there are many better places to look.