New Super Mario Bros. 2 Review

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Nintendo 3DS is home to great sidescrolling platformers like Mutant Mudds and Mighty Switch Force, but until now there was no Mario. Sure, Super Mario 3D Land was released late last year, but that wasn’t a traditional sidescrolling platformer. Enter New Super Mario Bros. 2. It was announced earlier this year to both excitement and groans from the Nintendo community. I was on the excited side of the coin and never looked back, not even for a moment. For weeks I counted down the days until I could insert New Super Mario Bros. 2 into my 3DS. After playing the game all week, I can honestly say that it has met my expectations.

I’m going to skip over the story (yes, Princess Peach is captured by Bowser and his minions once again) and get right to the gameplay. What can you expect from New Super Mario Bros. 2? Well, you can expect to find a game that is very much like its New Super Mario Bros. cousins. New Super Mario Bros. 2 has some of the best level design seen in the series. I’d even say that it ranks amongst Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. These levels are short bursts of platforming action that while fun, are also a bit on the easy side. Overcoming obstacles and reaching the flagpole remain the goal. Sounds familiar, right? Yes, it’s familiar, but this is what I like about the series. It remains familiar, but adding newly designed levels to quench my Super Mario Bros. thirst.

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A host of familiar power-ups are available at your disposal; Super Mushrooms, Fire Flowers, Mega Mushrooms and Mini Mushrooms all make their return from New Super Mario Bros. However, for the first time since Super Mario Bros. 3, the Super Leaf makes its long awaited return. Adding the Super Leaf was an incredible decision on Nintendo’s part. Having the ability to fly opens up possibilities for level design and of course, secrets in the sky! While it isn’t a new power-up, it is fun to use and certainly a welcomed addition.

Speaking of power-ups, the Gold Flower makes its debut in New Super Mario Bros. 2. Upon touching this power-up you will be transformed into Gold Mario. Gold Mario throws golden fireballs much like the traditional Fire Flower power-up, but this fireball is much more powerful. It can destroy multiple bricks upon impact which also turns them to coins. Wielding this power makes coin collecting less of a chore, which is necessary when Nintendo asks you to collect 1,000,000.

Coin collecting is a staple of the series, but New Super Mario Bros. 2 is sculpted around the idea of collecting tons of them. Aside from Gold Mario, Gold Rings and Gold Blocks have also been added to help you gather coins. Jumping through Gold Rings will turn all nearby enemies gold. During this phase, trails of coins are left behind kicked Koopa shells and flying enemies like Bullet Bills. Gold Blocks are found by hitting 10-Coin bricks until they eventually turn gold. Once you find one it can be worn by jumping into the brick from below. Coins flow from Mario’s head with every movement and will continue to do so until it expires. Like Gold Mario, these are fun to activate and add an extra component to the game.

Completing the 1,000,000 coin challenge is actually a bit disappointing and only makes the coin collecting feel like a gimmick. The reward you receive for spending hours grinding coins is not worth the trip. It would have been a lot better if the coins were implemented better. Maybe letting gamers buy power-ups, or by unlocking levels would it have felt necessary. They are still irresistible to grab, which will no doubt play on one’s OCD, but can be passed over with no worries of missing great content.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 has a decent amount of replay value. Whether you’re trying to complete the 1,000,000 coin challenge or searching for every exit and Star Coin, there is some stuff to focus on outside of the main game. It took me approximately 13 hours to find every exit and Star Coin without a guide, so you can expect to find a similar amount of play time. Of course, if you’re trying to reach 1,000,000 coins, you can also play Coin Rush mode. This mode lets you play through three random levels that challenge you to get as many coins as possible without dying. There is a limited amount of time given for each level, so you will literally have to rush through each stage while trying to maximize your total. More course packs are coming sometime in the future via DLC.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 does have great level design, fun power-ups and replay value, but there are some things that disappoint. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this game is the recycled music. A lot of music comes from the Wii version of the game which makes New Super Mario Bros. 2 feel less special. Another small issue is repeat boss fights. Bosses are almost too similar to others in the series, or don’t do enough to make them feel new. It’s something that bothered me in Super Mario 3D Land as well.

Some may also complain about recycled graphics, but there have been quite a few new models and backgrounds added to the game and besides, the game does look good. However, the game’s 3D is terrible. It’s really weird though, because sometimes the 3D is quite stunning. Everything in the foreground pops nicely, and some backgrounds do look good, but most of them are a blurry mess. Once again, I have to say that I prefer to play with the 3D turned off.

Before I wrap up this review I’d like to touch on 2-player co-op. I never actually had the chance to try the co-op feature, but I can tell you what I know. Both players will be playing simultaneously, one as Mario and the other as Luiigi, but the camera will be following Player 1. Player 2 will have to keep up, or they will get lost outside the camera range. I am aware that Player 2 can butt stomp Player 1 to gain control of the camera, so there is a little competitive aspect as well.

Final Thoughts:

New Super Mario Bros. 2 is exactly what a good sequel should be. It adds enough to make it feel fresh, but doesn’t stray too far from the core formula. For what it’s worth, I believe New Super Mario Bros. 2 to be far superior to its DS counterpart. There is no shortage of disappointment with bad 3D and recycled music coming to mind, but the level design and gameplay are fantastic, so I can forgive at least a little bit. I really enjoyed the game and will likely play it many times throughout my life. Will it be for everyone? Of course not, but if you’re a diehard Mario fan, it’s worth a look.


Obtained by: Purchase

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  • Paul Darbyshire

    It’s nice to see a positive review of this game from someone who isn’t gaming press. It’s taken a bit of a pummeling from the gamers I know, so much so that it actually put me off playing it. Your review has rekindled my desire to give it a whirl, and the comparison with Mario World really interests me.

    Lastly, although it’s nice to get the flying ability back, I’m more stoked about the Reznor gang being there again!

    • Mini Fortress

      Reznor coming back is a nice hint of nostalgia. Hope I didn’t spoil that for you lol.

      This game is getting a bad rep, but it’s actually pretty great. Is it perfect? Not even close, but its redeeming qualities outweigh the negatives and that’s what I focused on here. When I bought this game, I knew what I was getting. Another New Super Mario Bros. game.

      It’s not groundbreaking by any means, but if you want a solid Mario platformer, you can’t go wrong.

  • Robert

    I’ll leave some other thoughts later after I give this a full read on a PC. Though overall I’m having fun despite this being very similar to previous games in the series. The coin theme is interesting, though like you mention I’ve heard the 1mil goal is a let down. At the moment I think I’m around 7200 coins in world 3 somewhere. FWIW I really enjoyed the haunted mansion level in world 2. It looked fantastic and was a bit different. (same reason I liked the haunted levels in SMB 3D Land)

    I’m also liking coin rush, but wish you could challenge/compare via spotpass. Kind of short-sided thinking on their part.

    I also find it interesting that quite a few on my friends list have NSMB2 as their favorite and when I see them online they’re playing it..

    • Mini Fortress

      Nintendo did a fantastic job with all the haunted mansion levels. There is one level where the normal exit is actually harder to find than the secret exit lol.

      Like you said, Coin Rush should have had some kind of SpotPass leaderboard, or SpotPass record swap with your friends list. StreetPass is pointless for me because I only know two other people with a 3DS.

      One thing that I’m not really excited about are the DLC levels. I was at first, but realized that they will be hard to explore in 100 seconds. Not impossible, but I’d like to be able to play them without the time restriction.

      • Robert

        It’s been 16 days and I haven’t made much progress, but played some today and got through more of world 3. Once again I’m most impressed by the haunted mansion.

        I didn’t think about the coin rush DLC like that before, but you have a good point. I would be nice to be able to play through them at your own pace first then do the coin rush separately.

        • Mini Fortress

          I also like the haunted mansions. They remind me of Super Mario World a lot. I can’t wait to see what Nintendo has in store for Ghost Mansions in New Super Mario Bros. U!

          I’m also curious as to when they will be releasing DLC for the game and how much it will cost.

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