Video Game Review: New Mario Bros. 2

BY SAM STEWART | AUGUST 30, 2012 6:30 AM

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Just as we all begin to quell our Olympic gold lust, New Super Mario Bros. 2 tempts us into relapse. As the sequel to New Super Mario Bros. for the DS, Mario Bros. 2 continues the series’ classic side scrolling game play but with a twist.

While the goal is still to defeat Bowser and rescue Princess Peach, collecting coins is now a focus, rather than just an aside, as you attempt to collect 1 million in total. Although this quest for gold certainly adds something new to the play and level design, it isn’t enough to set the game apart from the other games in the series.

As always, controlling Mario is a dream. By keeping the controls simple (run, jump, move left and right) the game retains the “simple to learn, harder to master” play.

The level design is top notch, and even though the world themes are all retreads (desert, swamp, snow) the coin collecting manages to keep the levels feeling fresh. You will rarely find yourself on a screen lacking at least a few coins, enemies drop coins when killed, and there are three special star coins to find in every level. If that’s not enough, new coin-related power ups have been added to facilitate your newfound addiction.

Coin block hats award you coins for moving at a fast pace, and golden rings scattered through the levels will temporarily turn all enemies golden, awarding you extra coins for defeating them and making them leave coins in their wake.

A new Golden Fire Flower turns your fireballs golden and causes them to turn blocks and enemies into more gold coins. Be sure to tinker with the new mechanics and figure out what works best to maximize your gold count.

Despite the new features, upgrades are one of the places where Mario Bros. falls short.

Your arsenal consists of three main power ups: the Mushroom, the Fire Flower, and the Super Leaf, which was recently resurrected in Super Mario 3D Land and is a blast to use. But sadly, that enjoyment won’t last for six worlds. Where are the Penguin Suits and Propeller Caps from Mario Bros. Wii? Or the Frog and Hammer Bros. Suits from Super Mario Bros. 3?

The Mini and Mega Mushrooms make a comeback, but they are rarely used. The game sorely needs more item variety, even if it is only five to six hours long.

In an attempt to keep you playing, the game also features three secret worlds, two-player co-op, and a new mode called Coin Rush. The three secret worlds are welcome additions; they can add a few more hours to the painfully short game. They also inject a dose of difficulty that the main game rarely provides. You can connect wirelessly to a local friend (sorry, no online) for two-player co-op, but it is plagued by many of the same problems as Mario Bros. Wii.

Mario and Luigi bump into each other and bounce off each other’s heads when they collide, which makes precision platforming nearly impossible. This is a problem that could be easily solved by allowing the characters to pass through each other. Also, for some reason the second player must always stay on the same screen as player one, despite their being played on different screens. This bizarre decision makes co-op a mess, and it is unlikely you will want to play with a friend.

Coin Rush mode is undoubtedly the best reason of the three to keep playing. In Coin Rush, you are tasked to complete three randomly selected levels with a single life, all while collecting as many coins as possible. You are also only given about one-half the regular time to complete each level.

You are given coin multipliers for completing levels, which allows you collect an insane number of coins in a short time. This mode is very intense but also a lot of fun. High Scores can be traded through Street Pass, allowing you to challenge others.

The game looks and sounds great, even if it feels similar to older versions.

Its graphics are comparable with those of its Wii counterpart. Very colorful and very detailed, you will feel right at home if you are a veteran fan of the series.

As far as the soundtrack goes, expect a lot of remixes of classic Mario songs. I didn’t notice a single original song in the entire game, from the level music to the boss themes. The Mario series has always had amazing music, but I must admit I have grown tired of a couple of these songs.

The reality is it just isn’t original. Every single Super Mario game has dared to be different, dared to try something new, whether it was full 3D levels in Super Mario 64 or four-player co-op in Super Mario Wii. Super Mario 2 seems to be content with being nothing more than a level pack for the series.

New Super Mario Bros. 2
Nintendo 3DS
Released: Aug. 19
Cost: $39.99
ESRB Rating: E
Reviewer Rating: 8/10

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