The Nintendo 3DS title New Super Mario Bros. 2 is, as the title suggests, the 2012 sequel to New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS. The new game was very much hyped at conferences such as E3 in the months prior to its release in August, and gamers were told that it would be all about the gold. However, the overall premise remains pretty much the same - Bowser and his Koopalings have kidnapped Princess Peach (again) and Mario (again) must go through the eight worlds (though only six are necessary) and rescue her. Oy. Rinse-and-repeat of almost every Mario platformer ever made.
SPOILERS AHEAD (you know the drill)
So, I've already identified its key weakness - the plot is exactly the same. I am a little unimpressed that Nintendo think we aren't craving something new. I actually enjoyed some of the other ideas that Nintendo have come up with in terms of Mario games - Super Princess Peach, for example, and Super Veggie Bros.1 - and the "twist" at the end (which seems to have become another Mario Bros. staple) was something I saw coming a mile and a half away. I also gotta say, I haven't found a Mario game this easy. Ever. I managed to finish the single player campaign in approximately four hours, and I assure you, I have not been speedrunning. Score 0 for the plot and difficulty level.
Nintendo weren't wrong about the game being absolutely bloody shiny. So... many... coins... In one day, I racked up over 10,000 coins. In just two, I have nearly 25,000. That's peanuts though, compared to the game's overall goal of one million. So, although I've beaten the game's main campaign, I'm still only 2.5% of the way to overall completion. I predicted that one million coins would be a hell of a grind, and I'm prepared to bet that's all I'm going to be seeing it as if I ever decide to tackle it. (Which, being a completionist, I probably will. One day.)
Again, Nintendo has put in place its "hey, let's be completely condescending so that absolutely every person on Earth will be able to play this game" policy. Fail a level five times, and you're presented with a useful item to help you push through to the end. Fail it ten times, and you're probably granted with another item (I don't know, I never checked and I never failed that much or that hard). I completely disagree with this notion, first introduced in (IIRC) Super Mario 3D Land, designed to help people with absolutely no skill to defeat the game. OK, fair enough, it's better than using cheat codes, but seriously Nintendo, remember back to Super Mario Bros. 3. A lot of Mario fans believe this to be the best Mario game of all time (myself included), for good reason: it was fucking hard, and it made me think and develop skills in order to beat the damned thing. (Also we all liked the Tanooki suit. Which reminds me, thanks Nintendo for including Raccoon Mario in New Super Mario Bros. 2.) I want to see Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels again. Pretty please?
Oh, alright. What about the stuff other than the plot? Right. Well. Pretty clearly, this game will be very familiar to Mario fans. It contains the basic elements: Italian plumber who grows when he eats mushrooms, flowers and leaves; mushrooms-on-legs that defend a huge dinosaur-cross-turtle (but can't withstand a single jump on the head); eight worlds, each with their own gimmicks and quirks, with a Koopaling guarding the end of each one2; finally, heaps and heaps of gold coins. Despite the grind, one million coins is a goal that is actually quite obtainable within a few months.
Credit where credit's due, Nintendo have also designed some fairly interesting levels. Most of them have dropped in difficulty, but nabbing some of the Star Coins - one of the game's secondary goals - is actually a challenge. I am impressed by this bit, but not by much. I'm also impressed - as always - by the graphics. OK, it's screaming with colour and childishness, rather than the deep, dark graphics of other games (such as PC games) - but they've used the 3DS to its potential here. Not bad, Nintendo. Not bad.
So, let's have some fun and give this game an actual score.
- Graphics: 8/10 Not the greatest, but in fairness I do expect something cartoonish every time I play a Mario game.
- Sound: 4/10 The (remixed from New Super Mario Bros.) music, in all honesty, sucks. It is worse than its predecessor.
- Playability: 6/10 No higher, because it is ridiculously condescending and way too easy. No lower, because at least the controls are good.
- Lastability: 6/10 No higher, because most of the million-coin-collecting mission will feel like a grind. No lower, because there are some postgame challenges that seem reasonably tricky.
- Plot: 3/10 See above. Too overused, nothing new, poor "twist".
- Overall: 27/50 = 5.4/10 Alright, this may be me being a bit harsh, but I really don't think this game is worth the hype it was given. Mario veterans will breeze through the game, Mario newbies will be treated like kids. The million coin goal is huge and it's unreasonable to expect that people will get this goal in the normal course of the campaign. The plot is borrowed from an idea from 1985, and I seriously think it's time to move on. If worth buying at all, it's only worth buying by speedrunners and completionists who just want to add this game to their collection, or to show off their mad leet hax ninja Super Mario Bros. skills.
1Yes, I know this wasn't supposed to be a Mario game at all.
2Only six of the eight worlds are necessary to defeat the game, hence only five out of the seven Koopalings must be encountered - Koopaling fans will be somewhat disappointed by the initial lack of Iggy and Lemmy.