|New Super Mario Bros. 2|
|Genre||Get Rich or Die Trying|
|MtAMinutes to Action||0|
|Buy from Amazon|
The announcement of a new Mario title tends to carry some buzz. Gaming’s mascot has led enough revolutions that every new game seems to emanate with potential energy.
But the fanfare was light when two new Mario platformers were revealed at this year’s E3. Old Jumpman may be a victim of overexposure: assuming New Super Mario Bros. U launches alongside the Wii U this holiday season, that will make five Mario platformers released in three years. The five previous Mario platformers stretched from 2007 all the way back to 1992.
You’ll never hear me complain about too many Mario games. I loved NSMB Wii’s hilarious multiplayer, adored Galaxy 2’s imaginative splendor, and even enjoyed 3D Land’s muted creativity. But all I expect from New Super Mario Bros. 2 is the same old unassuming excellence that has come to define the word “New” on Mario’s box.
We all know what to expect from Mario. Heck, we all know what to expect from “New” Mario. So today’s Minutes of Note will record only the never-before-seen powerups, enemies, level pieces, and features of the first hour (to the best of my knowledge).
01 - I was mining a brick for coins when it suddenly turned gold and got stuck on Mario's head. When I move, more coins come out. That's definitely new.
02 - The same golden brick, but it's like a coin fountain when a Koopa shell ricochets off it. Same new brick, different new feature.
03 - A block that alternates between 5/10/30/50 coin amounts for prizes, slot machine style. It produces big coins, worth ten regular coins. Double new.
04 - A red POW block that breaks a series of nearby bricks. The POW block itself is ancient, but I think its little shockwave chain-reaction effect is new...?
05 - A grey pipe that spouts coins when you shoot fireballs at it. Definitely new.
07 - I got the Raccoon Tail! Obviously that's not new, though you don't have to keep hammering the jump button to fly, as was the case in Super Mario Bros. 3. New enough for me.
09 - Skull goombas in this castle stage. Are those new? I'm pretty sure the boney piranha plants are new. They don't do anything new. They just look new. Still new!
12 - It's Reznor from Super Mario World, but there's only two of him instead of four. That's a new number of Reznors, I think. So hey, new!
14 - A golden ring that turns all enemies gold for a few seconds. The koopa shells leave coins behind as they speed around. The goombas are worth more to kill. Super new.
16 - The music fades if you fly above the upper limit of the screen. New?
32 - I fought a Koopa Kid! That's not new. But it used a head-first ramming attack, which I think is new, maybe? I don't know.
33 - I unlocked Coin Rush mode unlocked after finishing World 1. I've never unlocked Coin Rush mode before! Coin Rush queues up three random levels to be played in a row, without dying, with a stricter time limit and some big coin bonuses. It's the fast track to earning ONE MILLION COINS, which is included on the back of the box as a selling point for some reason.
34 - I quit the regular game and load up Coin Rush mode. I can play as regular Mario or White Raccoon Mario with invincibility and flight. Apparently I can exchange Coin Rush high scores with people through StreetPass, but not online. Nintendo's reluctance to acknowledge the existence of online leaderboards is way old, but this emphasis on high scores is still new.
40 - Just finished three levels in Coin Rush mode and snatched 7492 coins in about five minutes. In the half hour before that, I earned 2797.
43 - Ooh, a Gold Flower powerup. It turns Mario gold, and his big fireballs send out shockwaves that turn bricks into coins and kill nearby enemies with a coin bonus.
Minutes to Action: 0
So that's, like, a dozen new things in the first hour. That's more new than I expected, to be honest. But most of the New-ness involves amassing vast sums of coins. And coins aren't merely old, they're arguably outdated.
That said, I'm intrigued by the new Coin Rush mode, which reestablishes importance to some lingering artifacts from earlier games. The strict time limit, lack of extra lives, and emphasis on coin collection tug the player's priorities in ways that Mario hasn't in a long time. Do I have a few spare seconds to mine that coin pipe for all it's worth? Should I keep the Fire Flower that turns enemies into coins, or swap for the life-saving Raccoon Tail? It's surprising how a few slight changes can make the singleplayer mode and Coin Rush feel so different, even though they use the exact same stages.
The vanilla singleplayer adventure is no slouch, though. The timer and coins may be meaningless, but the level design has always been the big attraction of Mario games, and it's in fine shape. Stages are more varied and open than the first New Super Mario Bros., and the extra-credit Star Coins and secret exits are managing to elude even my Mario-attuned mind. I'm already looking forward to scouring past stages for secrets after marching my way to Bowser.
It's clear, though, that Nintendo has found its New Super Mario groove and is content to coast through it, once per system. NSMB2 yet again recycles assets from previous games, with barely retouched music and visuals that are almost certainly ripped from its Wii and DS predecessors. It's telling that the reappearance of a boss from Super Mario World is one of the game's biggest surprises so far.
Bias: If I made a top ten list of my favorite games, there would be at least two Super Mario games on it, and not necessarily the old classics. I think the most recent game, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, is even better than Super Mario Bros. 3.
Would I Keep Playing? Yeah. It's the same Super Mario I've been playing for years, just with some new set pieces. It's neither a step forward nor a step backward from its excellent predecessors. It's the superstar who's lazy but talented, clearly phoning it in but still succeeding.
In 3D? Nah. To be honest, the subtle blurring and sinking of the backgrounds was kind of nice. But why spend extra battery power on something I barely notice and has no effect on the game?