It’s time to review one of the modern Mario games. This one definitely got more mixed reception than usual because many fans felt that it was too similar to the first title. Well, there are certainly similarities to be found and I can understand the critique, but….it doesn’t change the fact that this game is a blast to play. It’s a thrill a minute and Mario continues to be one of Nintendo’s best franchises. This game certainly holds its own against the original.
The plot is that…Peach is kidnapped by the Koopa Kids. Mario and Luigi didn’t want this to happen, but they were quickly overwhelmed and outran by these villains. This means trouble for the Mushroom Kingdom and the heroes are going to have to work together if they want to win this battle! The plot is certainly as generic as we come and I would prefer to have an actual plot, but it is what it is. The day a 2D Mario game has an actual plot is the day I replay Mario Sunshine’s epic levels once more. Galaxy 1 was a good start, but it’s 3D so it’s not quite the same.
The gameplay is your average Mario styled gameplay so I should not really have to describe it. Just in case, the basic goal of the game is to get to the end of the level by heading right. You can jump and land on enemies to take them out of the equation. Another useful application of the jump is to hit blocks and grab some items to make the journey a little easier. The gameplay is simple yet effective and it can actually be quite challenging. Not this game in particular because they are typically a lot easier nowadays, but if you’ve played Super Mario World, then you’ll remember a tough game.
I would count this as a negative thing, but it’s not quite that major. I do wish there was some kind of Master Quest mode where each of the levels became significantly harder, but it would likely be difficult to achieve. You really need the actual level designs to be created with that frame of mind. Hopefully something like this happens soon, but it’s not an absolute necessity. What I wouldn’t want is for the game to just speed the screen along in each stage. That would make it more difficult, but in an artificial way that wouldn’t be quite as fun.
This title is very easy, but that probably does help its charm a little bit. You can jump right into the game and breeze through the levels with your Mario expertise. You’re still enjoying the level designs, but you can jump all the way through without any stops or backpedaling. It’s simply different than the more strategic ways of playing Mario back in the day. The Raccoon Tail is also guilty of this as it is even more useful than the Cape from World. You can float over just about anything and running for a long enough time will allow you to fly like with the cape. I have been able to essentially skip whole levels using this technique.
The graphics in this game certainly hold up well and show just how powerful the 3DS can be. It’s safe to say that this is probably the best looking game on the console although 3D Land and Dream Drop Distance give this title a run for its money. The colors really stand out and it looks like it could be a home console Mario title. Are the graphics are good as Mario Galaxy 2? Probably not, but the fact that it is even close is pretty cool.
The soundtrack is another big positive for the title and the Mario series is pretty legendary for this aspect as this point. It’s hard for more of a casual listener like myself to tell what is original and what is a remix nowadays, but they all sound so great that it barely matters. Mario has always upheld a high level of quality for its music and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
The game is a little short, which is probably the only thing that should make you wary about the title. (The difficulty level shouldn’t make you wary even if I did mention it) You can go through an entire world in the time that it would take you to beat a level in War For Cybertron or another one of those long games. Some of the bosses can be beat in a matter of seconds or 1-3 minutes. The Rhino’s are hilarious to fight because you just jump under them as soon as the stage officially begins and it’s game over for the poor guys. The whole game was completed in two sittings for me and it does feel shorter than the average Mario game, but it’s probably about as long. It’s not that the levels have shrunk, but the Raccoon just helps out a lot in these situations. It’s also the kind of game that makes you want to play it for long periods of time and in normal bursts, it would certainly last longer.
The level designs should be applauded as they are very diverse and also a lot of fun. That being said, there is one level that deserves a shout out for being pretty bad. I’m talking about one of the Ghost Houses. I’m not really a fan of them in this game to be honest although I enjoyed them in World so it probably depends. I miss the classic ghost theme this time. Back to the point, one level had a little too much fun with the trap doors. You could go through the level over and over again as you’re stuck in a loop of unending scariness. I still think it was a glitch one time where I kept going through all of the doors, but it’s possible that I took a misstep. Still, that level just wasn’t cool. I prefer my difficulty increases through hard jumps and more enemies like in World than adding mazes where you can get lost. The former is simply exhilarating while the latter is tedious.
On an unrelated note, this is why I’m a little sad by the fact that Nintendo has slowed down the Mario series so much. I am now just about caught up with the franchise at least as far as the 2D World is concerned. A New Super Mario Bros 3 would come in handy right about now. Luckily, I still have New Super Mario Bros U to keep me busy in the future. The price has kept me away, but it’s certainly something to consider for next Christmas.
One improvement I would suggest for a future game is to get Bowser more involved. He doesn’t even appear until the very end and he goes down very quickly. I’d like a bit more of a climactic clash with the big Koopa and preferably he should fight through some mini boss levels before the end. He needs more screen time seeing as how he’s Mario’s big adversary right? Throwing Luigi into the plot early could also be something to look into.
Before I forget, the game also added a new gimmick through the gold coins. If you collect enough of them or grab the item, everything will turn gold. You can shoot gold bolts of energy and every enemy will drop a bunch of coins. It’s pretty fun, but it doesn’t actually happen very often so I wonder why it was marketed to heavily. It’s a nifty feature, but also a forgettable one that won’t really impact your video game experience. With a game like this one though, that’s no problem!
There’s a whole lot of replay value to be found here so it almost doesn’t even need to be said. You’ll want to replay all of the levels to collect the Star Coins and you’ll also unlock new ones along the way. Reaching 1 million coins will unlock something pretty neat and that will take some time no matter how good you are at collecting them. The sheer enjoyment of playing through a level also counts for the replay value as the levels never get boring.
Overall, New Super Mario Bros 2 is a great game. It is certainly following a formula and it didn’t add many new features to the system, but that’s all right because the system still works. Granted, there was a rather large gap for me between this game and the first one so the levels felt more like a nostalgia boost than an unfortunate copy. Still, the levels are so fun that you can’t tire of them very quickly. That’s a good thing since you’ll be playing them a lot as you go through the game. I certainly recommend this title and collecting a lot of coins gives you an extra incentive to really get your money’s worth (See what I did there?) out of this game. I had been leaning towards an 8 for this game, but when I think about it, there are very few games that I find to be quite as fun. Super Smash Bros and Madden have earned 9’s with ease in the past, I think this game is worthy of the title as well. It’s missing some elements like a plot for the story mode..but you could say the same about the other two games. I’m eagerly awaiting Mario’s next portable adventure and this one shall not be forgotten. Mario basically invented the word “fun” with its various installments.