Most of the time, Nintendo knocks it out of the park when it comes to great ideas and innovation. From game systems to fun and entertaining franchises, the brains at Nintendo know what people like. But other times, they fall flat, regurgitating overused gameplay elements and stale characters. Sadly, New Super Mario Bros. 2 falls into the latter category.
Genre: Side-Scrolling Scrooge McDuck Simulator
Release Date: August 19, 2012
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Mario has really been through the ringer over the last few decades. His girlfriend, Princess Peach, just keeps getting kidnapped by Bowser. He really needs to lock that down at some point, am I right? In this iteration of the same story, Mario doesn’t just fight Bowser’s brood and minions aplenty… this time, he’s also focused on collecting gold coins. Not that he isn’t focused on that in other games, but it’s the primary goal of this game. And you’re reminded of that fact every step of the way.
Each world has several levels in it, including the typical mid-world castle and end-world castle, and lots of fun Toad Houses and other bonuses in between. After completing each end-world castle, you battle one of Bowser’s children. True to form, Peach is then whisked off to the next world by another of the Koopalings. The game is very reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 3, with each offspring having their own unique attacks. The regular monsters are all pretty typical of a Mario game – you’ve got your Koopas, your Goombas, Lakitu, Piranha Plants, etc. Powerups are the same as well – Mario will get huge, tiny, invincible, and all raccooned up in this game.
Everything feels like it’s just pulled from one Mario game or another. There’s nothing all that new or unique here. It’s the same platforming, the same enemies, the same goals. Some parts are so easy it’s almost embarrassing, while other parts are so punishingly difficult, you’re reminded of the original Super Mario Bros., where you had to memorize the pattern to get through a certain area. But unlike the original, New Super Mario Bros. 2 saturates you with coins and extra lives, so even if you do get stuck, you’re just burning through, at most, half a dozen of your 100+ extra lives.
The only new thing about this game is the focus on collecting coins. In addition to the three large special coins hidden on every level, players are encouraged to get as many of the regular coins as possible, and the game makes it ridiculously easy to do so. As you get more and more coins, you unlock more levels in Coin Rush, which is a game mode that gives you a set time limit to go through three random levels and get as many coins as quickly as you can.
I’m not sure what the appeal is here. The levels themselves are mediocre at best, and playing them again in Coin Rush tips the scales into boring. That’s how the whole game is, really – a mediocre sequel that has no real replay value. You can play it again to get more coins, but I just don’t see the point. There’s nothing exciting or new or different about this game – it’s the epitome of the Nintendo way of milking an IP as much as possible. But unlike Super Mario 3D Land, or even Mario vs Donkey Kong: Mini-land Mayhem, there’s nothing fun about New Super Mario Bros. 2, unless you enjoy making Mario whore himself out for coins. It’s just a boring, bland game that isn’t nearly worth the price tag.
The game is mercifully short – I finished it in two longish gaming sessions, with a few moments here or there snuck in to beat a level or two. The music is grating, and the enemies stop to dance to it at the same interval every time. This may have been adorable when they introduced it in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but now I just stomp that silly Koopa to death for being distracted. (Bowser would not be happy to hear about them messing around on the job.)
New Super Mario Bros. 2 has nothing “new” about it, and plays more like it should just be DLC for the first game, or for New Super Mario Bros. Wii. It’s not long enough to be considered tedious, but even the biggest Mario fans would find themselves hard pressed to enjoy it, unless they’re just trying to fill their days waiting for the Wii U to release. There are plenty of better games out there, and you should spend your money on those instead.