Review by KeyBlade999

"A great concept ruined by one, lone, fatal flaw."

~ Review in Short ~

Gameplay: Add a Coin-collecting focus to the New Super Mario Bros. formula.
Story: A Mario typical - Peach is kidnapped, and Mario needs to save her.
Graphics: Colorful and great, but 3D comes off as gimmicky, sorrowfully.
Sound and Music: Excellent remixes of familiar themes, plus more.
Play Time: Your usual playthrough takes about 10 ~ 15 hours. Completionism, about 15 ~ 20.
Replayability: Moderate. It's a fun game, but it feels uninspired and repetitive.
Recommendation: It all depends. If you are looking for a much easier version of New Super Mario Bros., this is the game for you. This is a good game to get new people into New Super Mario Bros. as well. However, most veterans of Mario platformers (i.e. played three or more games) won't particularly glean much enjoyment out of it, primarily due to the extreme ease of gameplay. I personally have regrets about my decision to buy this.

~ Review in Long ~

The New Super Mario Bros. series began as a way to revamp the Super Mario Bros. series. After coming from 2D platformers to 3D platformers (Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine) to RPGs (Paper Mario, Mario & Luigi...), and many things in-between, people were clamoring for a portable version of the famous originals. And so, starting with the DS games, Nintendo has made more and more platformer Mario games.

This game's predecessors and current successor have all done well.

Did New Super Mario Bros. 2 live up to their standard?

Mario began many years ago in the arcade. Back in those days, he was known as Jumpman in the arcade game (at least based around) Donkey Kong. He didn't come to home consoles until 1985 on the NES, with Super Mario Bros., both of which were developed by Nintendo. So began a long series of other games, including Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, Super Mario Land's series, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and a number of other platformers. Mario has also come into a number of RPGs, such as Super Mario RPG, the Paper Mario series, and the Mario & Luigi series. And then there's the expansive Mario Kart series, the Dr. Mario series, and miscellaneous games like Mario Paint.

In short, Mario has seen a number of games and is definitely the Mushroom Kingdom's jack-of-all-trades. The New Super Mario Bros. series specifically began in the mid-2000s with a release on the Nintendo DS. Several years later, the first truly co-op Mario game, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, came out. It took a relative while - about five years - until New Super Mario Bros. 2 came out in August 2012 for the Nintendo 3DS. The next entry into the series, New Super Mario Bros. U, came out as a launch title for the Wii U just a few months later.

Concept and Game Progression:
The general concept of this game is rather similar to the other New Super Mario Bros. games, Super Mario World, and Super Mario Bros. 3. The game takes place in a rather grid-like series of worlds. Each level is laid out so that you can complete it and move along a path to the next one. Some levels have multiple exits so that you can go from, for example, Level 1-1 to either Level 1-2 to Level 1-4. Of course, most of these exits are moderately well-hidden.

You'll progress through the levels in a world in a relatively non-linear manner - there are multiple paths you can go along, through special levels and the like. There are a few fixed occurrences. As one might guess, these are the bosses, consisting of the ever-present "children" of Bowser, as well as Bowser himself. You'll go through the levels to meet up with Bowser, defeat him, and rescue Peach.

The Star Coins:
Every level in the game contains three Star Coins. Star Coins a special type of currency in the game, used to open up extra pathways on the map. These can often go to additional levels or Mushroom Houses. Mushroom Houses are helpful places, much like in Super Mario Bros. 3, where you can obtain helpful items (Mushrooms, Super Leaves, Fire Flowers, et cetera) or extra lives.

Collecting Star Coins is one of the main two sidequests presented unto you in the game. Three are, as mentioned earlier, hidden in each level. Some of them are out in the open, while others take a bit more thinking to obtain. Unlike previous New Super Mario Bros. games, most of the Star Coins are easier to obtain this time around. In fact, in a quick playthrough of the game (my first, no less), I managed to grab around eighty-five percent of them without even trying. The remainder were found with cursory second or third playings of those other levels.

"Gotta Collect 'em All!":
The other main sidequest in this game would be to collect a ton of Coins. The back cover of the game's box challenges you to collect a million of them. Under most normal circumstances, in Mario platformers, it is hard to manage to collect 1,000 or 2,000 Coins in a single playthrough. In this game, though, it is not entirely unreal to collect that many, or even more, in a single level. This ties in later to the main flaw in the gameplay. You do get an award for collecting over 1,000,000 Coins. I won't say exactly what, but I will tell you that it is not worth the effort.

Most levels are absolutely chock-full of Coins, right to the brim. The Coin-collecting concept has led to a few new changes to the game. For one thing, there is the notable Golden Flower. This power-up will turn Mario into glistening gold and allow him to fire fireballs, much like the Fire Flower. What is different about this flower, though, is that any enemy or block the fireballs hit will turn into Coins - not just enemies like with the Fire Flower. Additionally, there is a different ability to turn enemies themselves into gold - this will make them give out Coins in various ways. For example, Koopa Troopas, when you kick their shells, leave behind a trail of Coins, or Coins will spew out of pipes. A third thing added in are special blocks Mario can wear on his head, like the propeller blocks of Super Mario 3D Land I believe, but they give out Coins as he moves.

It does make a nice distraction from the game to have to collect Coins - at least the concept taken alone. There a few flaws with the system that make pursuing it pointless or detrimental to the game as a whole.

Coin Rush:
Coin Rush is probably one of the main heights of the game. It relies on the concept of Coin-collecting, again, but it is almost entirely separate from the main game. The flaw in the main game is not present here (we'll get to what that is later), so it is quite the enjoyable experience. Coin Rush gives you a number of "packs". These are sequences of mini-levels, three of which are pre-installed, and the rest are buyable from the Nintendo e-Shop. In each pack, you are timed and need to progress through all of the mini-levels, collecting as many Coins as possible to set records.

These records are shared between you and other people with New Super Mario Bros. 2 through StreetPass. Much like the Mario Kart 7 records, it makes a nice way to try and better yourself. Coin Rush, all in all, makes a nice minigame to play.

So, the Flaw in the Main Game...
That would have to be the game's difficulty - it is far, far too easy. Granted, that's a personal opinion coming from a person who has played nearly every platformer Mario game to date. There's some reasoning I have behind it, though. Firstly, take into account that there can be hundreds, or even thousands of Coins in a single level. However, this game still relies on the age-old tradition of earning 100 Coins will earn you an extra life. I had over one hundred lives by the end of the first world. Now, let us combine that with two other things - one, that was my first playthrough of the game, and, two, I only lost somewhere around ten or twenty by the game's end.

Then, next, the Star Coin quests. As mentioned earlier, I had grabbed almost all of the Star Coins in the game by the end of my first playthrough, which only took around twenty hours. There are three per level in the game, and, on average, I was collecting just under 2.7 of them per level. It took little to no imagination on my part to find them, and I assume that it took about as much imagination for Nintendo to implement them.

But, as I said earlier, that's my opinion and not a proven fact. There are probably a number of people out there who find this game too hard, if at just very particular points. There is a bonus for people like that - it seems that, if you lose enough lives during a level, you will be helped by a particular leaf power-up. This leaf basically works like a Star combined with a Super Leaf, both of which are permanent until the end of the level. I would say that it makes the level go from too hard to too easy rather than trying to retain a balance, but that's me.

Multiplayer Mode:
This game tries to retain the concept of co-op multiplayer like New Super Mario Bros. Wii advocated, as did New Super Mario Bros. U. Of course, being a handheld game, it is a bit more inconvenient in New Super Mario Bros. 2. You can only use local multiplayer, for one thing - online co-op play is not active at this time, sadly enough. It was a bit of a disappointment to many, including me, because, after all, does everyone have it? The play works like with the other New Super Mario Bros. games, except that you only can use Mario and Luigi. It's a bit fun to have a friend to play with, and, though it makes the game easier than what it already is, it does make it worth visiting someone else's house to play with them.

My Overall Opinion:
Frankly, overall, the gameplay is fairly poor. The main thing is the Coin-collecting concept. While that itself is a good idea, often one advocated by older veterans of the original games, it makes things too easy almost solely because of the "100 Coins means one life" thing. There's no challenge left in the game because of that - you can play two or three levels and, unless you're purposely playing to not get Coins, be set for the rest of the game. The Star Coins require the least creativity thus far to gather - a huge percentage of them are just lying out in the open.

The Coin Rush and co-op modes are the saving graces of this game, but that still doesn't really make the game worth buying unless you're a stickler for competition or an easy game.

STORY: 6/10.
The story for New Super Mario Bros. 2 is the same, uninspired story we've found in pretty much every Mario platformer since 1985. While, sure, such vague and sparsely-apparent stories were the standard (and probably the best) for console games in the 1980s, this game came out in 2012. Now we have games with excellent storylines in Nintendo's own games, like in the Paper Mario series, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, and The Legend of Zelda series.

Anyways, to the uninitiated, the story basically consists of this. Bowser, the king of the Koopas, has once again kidnapped Peach. Princess Peach is the matriarch of the Mushroom Kingdom, and is quite commonly the damsel in distress. Of course, Mario is her knight in shining armor (well, overalls) that treks across the kingdom to defeat Bowser and rescue Peach.

The 2D Graphics:
I do enjoy the graphics in this game. They rely on the same color scheme of the other New Super Mario Bros. games - a number of varied, colorful, vibrant environments. If you've played the other New Super Mario Bros. games, you probably already have a good idea of the color schemes and variation - there's little different between them and this, although the Wii U version definitely did better than this game. The color variety itself is pretty good, and the framerate held steady throughout the game. All in all, it's quite good.

The 3D Graphics:
Seeing as this game is a 2D platformer, you couldn't really expect any functionalistic use for the 3D function on the 3DS like there was, say, in Super Mario 3D Land. All the 3D does here is add a sense of depth, and little more than that. You may, at times, get a bit of the pop-out book effect, but the 3D is completely negligible here. If you're one of those types of people to get headaches from 3D, you won't be missing much here. If you don't like having to keep your hands rigid to prevent the double-vision thing, don't worry. But the 3D is otherwise not too bad to keep on.

Sound Effects:
Like many other Mario games, there are a number of sound effects in the game. The quality of the effects is quite good - no noticeable static or poorly done effects whatsoever. The variety is quite impressive as well. Most of them are familiar sounds - Mario jumping, grabbing Coins, kicking stuff, warp pipes, throwing fireballs, and so on. Little of it, if any, will actually be new to any person who has played a different Super Mario Bros. game. In the end, the sound effects are impressive; my only complaint is that there's little innovation in them compared to the other New Super Mario Bros. games.

Background Music:
This is my personal favorite for the entire game. A number of the background themes are there. Many of them are the familiar nostalgic remixes of earlier days - of course, that does include the original Super Mario Bros. The variety is nice and memorable, as is the quality. It's also kind of cute how the enemies like to dance along to the music, like in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Of course, I will admit that the themes in the game seem just too familiar, and it'll definitely seem so as the game continues on for veterans of the series. Nevertheless, I do love the music.

PLAY TIME: 3/10.
Platformers are a genre in which you can have a large variety of playing times. Games like the original Super Mario Bros. can (and were intended back in the day) to be beaten in a single sitting. Some, like the Sega Master System version of Bubble Bobble (200 levels), couldn't be beaten in one sitting even if you tried. I've seen games in this genre last for an hour to well over one hundred hours.

The Mario series has lent me to expect, especially in the New Super Mario Bros. series, at least 40 hours for their platformers. It took me quite a fair while to beat the original and the Wii version in full - somewhere around 30 to 50 hours. However, New Super Mario Bros. 2 horribly disappointed me. It took me just around ten to fifteen hours to beat this main storyline of this game. I then went to pick up the remaining Star Coins and finish the remaining levels, and that only added around three or four hours to my Activity Log's counter. Picking up the 1,000,000 Coins to earn the award for doing so, albeit not being worth it, rose my play clock up to around fifty hours. However, there is no true point doing so, and I wouldn't really recommend it.

This game is fairly good with some replays. There's a good deal of non-linearity for it. There's a bit more of it than in previous games in the series, at least. However, it feels boring to play the same level again - you know how to deal with the enemies and in what manner, how to obtain the Star Coins, what blocks contain hidden items... However, after a few months, I tried replaying it again and enjoyed it - at least, to a similar extent to my first time. (I still didn't enjoy either of them, but at least the level of entertainment was similar.) If you are able to enjoy this game the first time you play it, you will probably need a month or two of defamiliarization with the game before being able to enjoy it fully the next time.

THE END. Overall score: 4.75/10.
In the end, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a great game. The focus on collecting Coins is excellent, the themes and graphics are reminiscent of previous games in the series and the originals, and the co-op is worth it. The Coin Rush is a nice addition to the series as well.

However, there are other things wrong with the game. For one thing, it is too easy to play and completionism (barring the 1,000,000-Coin quest) even won't take you more than a week to deal with. Heck, if you had the patience and time, you could play it, beat it, and return it to the store in a space of 24 hours. Overall, this game is great, but it is brought down by one lone factor - a lack of challenge. Challenge is what makes a game entertaining to play - to need to actually think or to get your pulse racing... That is what makes a great game.

I don't particularly recommend buying this game, unless you love playing easy games - and some people do, and there's nothing wrong with that. This game mostly feels like it's running off of nostalgia and little more than that - not hundreds of hours of enjoyment like in Super Mario RPG, or an entertaining challenge like Super Mario Bros. 2. Overall, I was disappointed.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 01/22/13

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

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