The King has always been an ardent fan of Mario. In fact, we vividly remember the first time we saw Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3 when they were released eons ago on the NES. The year that SMB3 came out we took a summer off work and dedicated all of our time to this brilliant title.
On the footsteps of Super Mario 3D Land, Nintendo has released New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the 3DS. Most people agree that Super Mario 3D Land set the bar for 3DS games and this has inevitably led to high expectations for NSMB2. First things first- this game does not utilize the 3D features of the 3DS like SM3DL. The higher you turn up the 3D slider, the blurrier the backgrounds become. Now this is not to say that the 3D effect isn’t “cool” we just suggest sliding the 3D control until the 3D just barely kicks in.
As soon as you load up the cart (or the download- the full game is downloadable from the 3DS Shop) you will be brought into familiar territory. Look for 3 star coins on each level to spend them on new map paths, rinse, repeat. You will be reacquainted with Bowser’s family of mini-bosses, the now standard NSMB map, and music. One gripe we have straight off the bat is this- why has Nintendo chosen to recycle the music from NSMB for the 2 more recent games (NSMBWii and NMSB2)? There was certainly a vast difference between the soundtracks of the first Super Mario Bros., SMB3, Super Mario World, Yoshi’s Island, Super Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy. Which brings us to our next point, it is now obvious that the New Super Mario Bros. games are a franchise amongst themselves. This means that there is nothing more than a few upgrades and changes in each console’s (DS, Wii, 3DS) entry. One can only expect the same will be said of the upcoming New Super Mario Bros. U.
I guess if you take all this into consideration while playing these titles, it can make for an enjoyable (albeit familiar) romp through this particular area of the Mario universe (incidentally, let’s hope that Mario Universe will be a future release on the WiiU). However, do not go into this game expecting major changes such as those between SMB1 and SMB3, SMB3 and SMW, SMW and SMW2, SMW2 and SM64, etc. Heck even Super Mario Sunshine seems like a radical change from SM64 when compared to the minor additions of the New Super Mario Bros. titles.
So what’s new in NSMB2? Mario has gone a bit Wario and is now coin obsessed and the quest for 1,000,000 coins certainly is addictive. There are new powerups, a “blockhead” (think of the propeller in SM3D Land) and a gold flower which produce coins; co-op play (a first for a handheld “traditional Mario” title); Street Pass and Spot Pass features; and improved graphics over the DS title. The control is similar to all 2D Mario titles but it does seem “floatier” than any other Mario game (using either the analog nub or the D-pad) which takes some getting used to.
Overall, we do recommend this game, with the aforementioned caveats, but one has to wonder if Nintendo has gone a bit “Madden” with the NSMB series (so far, this seems to be the case with Galaxy as well… one more reason we need a Super Mario Universe). A casual game fan would be no more likely to differentiate between each NSMB game than they would between yearly installments of Madden. How long is it until we see “new animations” emblazoned on the back of the box as a selling point for NSMB games as well?
Bottom line-we do long for the “wow factor” we had when we first saw and heard Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario Galaxy.
7/10 Thus saith the King