Review: New Super Mario Brothers 2

Review: New Super Mario Brothers 2
4.0/5 Review Score:

Mario has been jumping around like a maniac for over 25 years now, and boy have we loved him. Mario is so big in fact, that when you look at the numbers, people who play Call of Duty are actually a minority in the gaming world…needless to say, this fat Italian plumber is a popular icon. Once again Mario is back to save the kingdom, defeat the dark forces in his way and get the girl…but is this jump too far for the plumber to make?

The short answer: No. Infact NSMB2 almost religiously sticks to its roots, and to be perfectly honest that is not a totally bad thing. 2D Mario titles are all about jumping from point A to point B as quickly as possible whilst still unlocking each of the levels cunning secrets, and the new 3DS title is no different in that regards. What the big N have done however, is make it a whole lot more fun.

NSMB2 introduces the Coin mechanic…now before you start yelling that coins have been in Mario forever, hear me out. Coins are literally everywhere, you find them in the open, hidden away, down pipes, in the sky, hidden in blocks heck there is even a power up that turns just about everything into cold, hard cash. This may seem like a pretty lame gimmick, but the inclusion of such a coin heavy environment makes for a game that is incredibly fun to play. NSMB2 side objective infact is to collect one million coins, which is no mean feat. I managed about 50,000 coins on my first playthrough, so if you want to make that goal you’re going to have to work!

To make this journey to one million coins easier, NSMB2 has a second mode in which to play in the form of Coin Rush. Coin Rush is essentially a survival mode whereby Mario has one life to complete three randomly generated levels and collect as many coins as possible. The levels have all been given new ‘rules’ to make coin collecting easier such as doubling your coin score if you hit the top of a end flag and turning all 1up mushrooms into massive coin rewards. Oh, and there is a very tight time limit meaning you don’t want to dilly dally around if you want to succeed. To add a bit more flair, this mode also has Street Pass allowing you to share your records with other players you pass, resulting in some serious competition. It is not impossible to achieve 40,000 coins a playthrough if you’re good enough. To top it all off, you even have DLC with whole new course packs adding even more content. Coin Rush is a brilliant addition, and certainly something I want to see in later titles.

In addition to Coin Rush, you also have the single player we have come to expect from a 2D Mario title. You have 6 worlds split into multiple levels to complete in order to face off against Bowser and save the Mushroom Kingdom. Hidden away in each level is three Star Coins which are a form of currency allowing you to access to extra levels and Toad Houses to obtain upgrades. Furthermore, there are 2 hidden worlds which require some serious exploration to locate and finally the Star World which requires 90 star coins to access. So you certainly have a lot of meat to sink your teeth into, but fans of the series will know what to expect.

To add a further layer to the already substantial package, there is also a 2 player co-op mode where you and a friend play through the game as Mario and Luigi. This a neat little addition, but is limited in its application. It is solely local play and it does not support Download Play which is a real shame as playing through with two people is an absolute blast. A simple online addition would have been great, so it is certainly a missed opportunity.

Mario games are not necessarily famed for their difficulty, and NSMB2 is no exception. You can get through the game without much trouble, and since there are so many coins and every 100 coins equals a life, you can power through the levels that would cause you the most difficulty. That being said, the game is still very fun and rewarding to play, and completing the game 100% is no simple task.

A platformer cannot succeed if its controls are flawed, and since Mario has had a whopping 25 years to perfect them, you would assume they would be spot on. Your assumptions are of course correct, as the controls are as sharp as a razors edge. If you die in NSMB2, it is not because the controls failed you, it is because you failed the game…and you should be ashamed of yourself.

Graphically NSMB2 is gorgeous. It takes the beautiful visuals from earlier titles on the DS and Wii and makes them look even better. There is detail bursting from the screen at every possible opportunity…unfortunately not in a literal sense. The 3D effect is not great, and in fact makes the game look worse as it basically blurs objects in the background. This is definitely a game you want to keep the 3D slider off when playing. To make matters worse, the sense of Dejavu cannot be avoided. Anyone who has played a previous Mario game will understand that this is ground well trodden. Worse still is, anyone who has played the astonishing 3D titles in series will feel a sense of disappointment that the imagination from those games has not been carried over.

NSMB2 is by all accounts a perfect Mario title. It has a variety of great levels, excellent controls, content coming out of the wazoo. As odd as it may seem, that simply is not enough to make it a perfect game. This is overly familiar, and whilst whimsical and fantastic, simply does not hold grab you as much as it once did. What saves NSMB2 from falling by the wayside is Coin Rush, and is the reason you will come back time and time again hours after you have completed the game. The sneaky buggers at Nintendo have averted potential catastrophe this time, however we are going to need more imagination in future releases that’s for sure.

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