Review by ShaheerRahman

"Reduce, Reuse, Recycle"

What better way to spend the last days of summer by playing one of gaming's most established franchises on the Nintendo 3DS. If any indication given by the quality oozed by Super Mario Bros 3DS, perhaps New Super Mario 2 will continue this trend, making fans of the series satisfied in purchasing this title. But a certain phrase, “don't judge a book by its cover” certainly rings to mind after playing this game. Allow me to explain in a little bit more detail.

The story still remains the same from every other Mario game. Princess Peach gets captured by Bowser, and Mario has to save her. It's the same cut and paste plot that has remained in every Mario game, and to be quite honest, I'm perfectly fine with it. Mario has never been about the story, since most of its emphasis has always come from its game play and simplicity. However, one does begin to question if Nintendo can try to shake up the plot for once. Maybe it's time for Mario to engage in a new adventure, maybe one that does not involve trying to save the princess over…and over again.

For those who are familiar with New Super Mario Bros for the Nintendo DS (2006,) then New Super Mario Bros 2 runs in a fairly similar fashion. For newcomers to the series, the controls are very fluid and tight. Everything from Mario's jumping, running, and turning is all weighted perfectly depending on how you tap the buttons on the 3DS. The precision from the controls does add for a better game experience, which makes Mario more enjoyable to play.

However one of the New Super Mario Bros 2 biggest downfalls comes to a lack of identity; it's hard to distinguish this title from other predecessors in the series. Everything feels all too similar. In fact, a lot of the music from the 2006 title is recycled and looped back in this version, and let's be honest here… the music in New Super Mario Bros series has always been underwhelming compared to other titles in the Mario franchise. I don't want to be harsh here, because there are some new tracks mixed in with retro/nostalgic sounds from previous iterations, but nothing stands out.

The premise of playing each level is gather three star coins; using them as currency to access locked levels on the world map, or to access mushroom houses that can give you power ups for upcoming levels. Also, players can test their skills by gathering all 8 red coins in each level within a specific time frame. While doing this offers no incentive, it can provide quite the challenge in certain levels. New Super Mario Bros 2 has put great emphasis on collecting coins. I suppose that hoarding as many coins as possible is to bring replay-ability to the game after finishing the main story line. After all, the 3DS does offer a street pass feature that compares how you did with other people playing the same game. There's even a “Gold Rush” mode with the main purpose of seeing how many coins you can acquire from certain levels within a specific amount of time. The only problem is that once you beat a level and acquire your gold stars, and then there really is no reason to play it again. None of the levels are memorable, with the exception of a few secret ones, and the ghost houses. The underlying concern is that several of the levels are far too easy, can be finished in one attempt, and secrets are easier to find this time around. There are still a few tricky secrets made by clever level design, but they are too few-and-far between.

New Super Mario Bros 2 brings all the familiar power ups from the previous titles, with new ones, including the gold fire flower and raccoon suit. For those struggling with the game's challenges, the raccoon suit will help you float around levels with ease. The suit also enables you to fly around in the air, albeit for a short period of time. However, very few levels are specifically designed for the raccoon suit. The gold flower is a nice addition and was fun to use, but once again, very few levels required you to actually use the power up. Also, the fun power-ups (Giant Mushroom/Gold Fire Flower/Mini Mario) are a lot rarer to find, which is a bit frustrating, and does deprive the game from being fun.

The graphics themselves are underwhelming, especially compared to Super Mario Bros 3DS. Even though this game came out recently, the game looks like a HD port to the DS version. Not saying that's bad, but definitely far more work could have been put into sharpening the visuals. The 3DS is capable of far more visual processing, but New Super Mario Bros 2 falters in that regard. To go along with the music and level design, even the textures seem to be recycled. However, some levels do look pretty good, such as the ghost houses and boss dungeons.

If you manage to finish the game, then one play-through is all you will need. For those who have played other Mario games within the last 5 years, they will know what to expect additional content is available of beating the game (trust me, it's not really exciting). The secret levels are far too easy, and the whole emphasis on collecting coins does not justify going through the same levels over, and over again.

What has made Mario endearing to its millions of fans has been its simplicity in game play, while offering imaginative and creative experiences for the gamer. While this formula has held true since the existence of the Mario franchise, New Super Mario Bros 2 looks to be one of the first mainline titles to deviate away from such innovation and creativity. It's disheartening to see Nintendo to churn out a mediocre title of such grandeur of series. For those looking forward to Mario's next big adventure, you won't find any excitement here. New Super Mario Bros 2 will feel all too similar to previous entries in the franchise, and there's no reason to spend $40 on a title that we have already experienced on the DS and the Wii.


Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 09/12/12

Game Release: New Super Mario Bros. 2 (US, 08/19/12)


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