New Super Mario Bros 2 Review
Note: Watch the video review here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KThrRt1inA&feature=context-cha
Alright, so when playing a 2D Mario game you probably shouldn't expect a reinventing of the wheel. But I just expected a little something more. Intstead I felt like I was playing levels I had already played years before with the first title. To make things worse, none of it was that engaging. The collecting a bazillion coins concept that the game seems to be fixated on is nothing more than a gimmick. It's essentially taking a major part of the old games and just blowing it up to a tiring extent. It has quite a few gameplay implications because ideally you are supposed to collect as many as possible. This effectively changes how you play the game when they are..well...everywhere. The point ends up becoming mute when you realize there is really no purpose to collecting these coins. You don't unlock extra levels or anything interesting like that; you just set up high scores to beat later. Without a ranking system that leads to further unlocks based on the coins you collect for each level, this effort is effectively useless. I had no desire to go back to beat my prior coin-hoarding scores.
Which leads me to the Coin rush feature new to the New Super Mario Bros. franchise. I will go on record to say that I find this feature to be incredibly pointless. You play 3 levels at a time at random, trying to collect as many coins as possible with the catch that you only have one life. This concept is flawed in a number of ways. My first problem is that there is no online leaderboards or anything like that to incentivize going for high scores. I'm not usually one to go for that type of thing but since this mode is all about setting records you should be at least able to share those records online with your friends. My second problem is that since the courses are random you really have no way of comparing your scores locally with anyone to make it somewhat competitive. You can only show what you got out of 3 random levels that likely won't match one of your mates. I feel like the developers got together and decided that they wanted to make the game seem longer and more interesting, so they came up with a more frustrating version of what's already in the game. The fact that you can see your coin totals for each individual level in the normal story mode seems to diffuse what they are trying to do here. Doing it at random takes away any sort of competitive vibe from a mode that is striving to promote competitive energy. In the end, all that's left to ask is: "Why"?
Although I've went on a bit with the negatives, New Super Mario Bros. 2 isn't all bad. It has some fantastic level design, especially in the ways that it taunts you with reaching the desirable star coins which can be used to unlock extra paths leading to additional levels and power-ups. I only wish that the game mixed up some of it's locations a little more. How many times now have we been to the Desert or the Snowy Mountains? Despite the samey locations, the visuals still end up looking nice on the 3DS, even the way the 3D is layered ends up having a nice effect; although it doesn't have any gameplay implications.
The sound in the game mostly consists of classic tunes remixed with something a little more spunky and playful. Overall I liked it even if it did seem a little too familiar to the first game.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 has tons of style, great design choices, and addictive gameplay. The game has a lot going for it. But if you are a veteran to the series like myself, about halfway through the title you might begin to wonder when the game was going to differentiate itself from prior games in the series. Unfortunately that time will never come. It doesn't exactly break the game but it will definitely make me a little bit more cautious before I buy the next game in the series.