New Super Mario Bros. 2
A long time ago, when the NES was a current thing, I played the original Super Mario Bros., and it wasn’t an easy game. I’m certain part of that was because I was a terrible player back then. My first try led to death by goomba. Then, after discovering the jump button, I lasted long enough to reach the first pit. My sister was the one who figured out that holding the B button down made Mario run fast. I had no frame of reference. This was all new.
In contrast, the challenges that New Super Mario Bros. presents recreates the feel of the games of yesteryear, with the learning curve of today. Every bit of this game is polished, every platform and secret purposeful in placement. In this 3DS release that doesn’t utilize nor need it’s technology, Nintendo has created a new Mario that’s just as good as its console predecessor. It’s because the gameplay is so finely tuned that it becomes unfortunate that this iteration is so forgettable.
Once again, Princess Peach has been kidnapped by Bowser. Once again, Mario (and Luigi in co-op) must venture forth and cross over at least five words of varying color and aesthetic design to rescue the damsel in distress. There will be many obstacles in Mario’s path, including a vast array of five new enemies to be dealt with. It’s a familiar tale for Mario and crew, but I don’t think anyone is really expecting a new story out of a Mario game, especially this retro inspired series. Lacking a new plot is easily forgiven.
What isn’t so easily forgivable is the lack of challenge present. To begin, I must ask you a question. Can you collect one million coins? This question is stated on the back of the box, and is reinforced in the game via a counter that totals up every coin collected, win or lose. The goal of the game is to collect as many coins as possible, and it’s something that’s easy to do. There are hundreds of the shiny blighters in any given level. It’s a rare sight to walk away from a stage with less than a hundred coins.
These coins not only add to your running total, they also give you extra lives. By the end of the game I had over two hundred extra lives, an excessive allotment by any means. There is no worry that an obstacle will put a stop towards Mario’s goal. Try and try again, there’s no worry that these lives mean anything. It’s like throwing a limitless supply of Prinnies at a trouble spot, hoping one will get through, without the difficulty.
Now it’s not like there is nothing new. At least one of the enemies makes an interesting impression. Warp cannons are now their own stage to be navigated. And then there are the boss battles, each one following the script set by Super Mario World utilizing different attack styles. Even the Reznor, fire-breathing triceratops-looking mini-boss, steps in with a twist on the old boss fight.
But these little tweaks are simply too far and too few. For example, in Super Mario World the Reznor was happy to sit, in a group of four, on rotating platforms above a bridge that slowly crumbled away. This time they start out in groups of two, then four, and then in multiple sections of rotating platforms. By the time that happens, however, it’s the end of the game already. It’s an idea that is presented, in its easiest form, so that new players can quickly grasp onto it, but never given enough time to fully develop.
Now, there is some challenge for the gamer that’s inclined to find it. Every stage has three hidden star coins, and the acquisition of them all can be tricky, and necessary to access the harder levels. For everyone else, this is another Mario game that’s far too easy and plays it far too safe. It’s more Mario for people who want more Mario, and nothing more.