It’s all about the bling!
New Super Mario Bros. 2 on Nintendo 3DS plants Nintendo’s iconic red and blue dressed plumber firmly on the ground in a new side-scrolling platformer. We’re already familiar with the Super Mario Bros environments and surroundings, many of which make a return here, and players can expect 80 levels of constant jumping, sliding and balancing in a brightly colored and engaging atmosphere.
From the moment you switch on the game, you will witness the inevitable abduction of Princess Peach by Bowser and his Koopaling minions. Mario bursts into action to rescue the beleaguered Princess, gathering precious gold coins that have been littered across the Mario World along the way and desperately attempting to find the three carefully hidden Star coins in each level.
Climbing and descending the traditional green pipes, and balancing on precarious sliding green tiles, it’s easy to see how you can lose a life so very quickly. Some of the areas can be tricky as the environments place you in difficult situations as you try to make your way through the golden desert avoiding the sinking sands, or as you swing and glide from rope to rope through a lava filled castle, trying not to catch your tasteful dungarees in the fiery pits of erupting volcanic lava below you. Throughout the game, you’re always reminded of the constant time issue as you desperately gather as many coins as possible or try to find unexplored areas.
Within the game you’re given the option to stop off at the little toadstool house, if you have five gold coins to spare, and grab yourself a fire flower, 1 Up, mini 1 Up or even a raccoon suit. The blue mini 1 Up’s are cute and enable you to squeeze into very tight spaces, take long floaty jumps and even run along the water. The yellow and red spotty mega mushroom is a rare power-up to discover, but once you’ve found it you can perform some ultimate chaos and destruction by bursting down those infamous pipes and crashing through unbreakable blocks. Mario can transform using the Super Leaf, which enables him to use the raccoon suit. Once that suit has been activated, you can take to the skies and fly for a short time period, giving you a chance to grab some more coins.
There are some new power-ups to discover, such as the golden brick head. Hit a repeating coin block enough times and it turns gold, getting stuck on Mario’s head, transforming everything into gold as you stride back and forth collecting a tremendous number of coins. It’s an amazing feeling when that eventually happens, because literally everything is golden before you and you’ve got coins gushing out of the sky and spilling onto your path. You then rush around trying frantically to collect them all, because the golden brick head won’t last forever. If you are lucky, you may come across a gold fireflower, which allows Mario to fire golden fireballs. These fireballs turn enemies into gold, a common theme throughout the game.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 is very much about exploring all of your environments and finding as many golden coins as possible, which are absolutely everywhere. You will find the occasional red ring which will begin a frantic dash to collect the parachuting coins that float down to the ground before the time runs out. Collect them quickly enough and you’ll be rewarded with extra coins or even an extra life if you’re lucky. More often than not, grabbing all of these floaty coins will result in a collision with an enemy or a fall to the death. But you won’t want to quit there, because collecting the coins becomes genuinely addictive.
The game will constantly remind you of how many coins you have collected, and it is easy to kid yourself that the highly publicised one million coins is within reach. The hunger to collect more coins will grow inside you and knowing that there are so many coins to collect in the game will have you pushing the poor plumber through level after level of danger. Mario will find himself working through ghostly mansions filled with over-sized Boos, mysterious moving coin blocks and doors that may lead somewhere, or may just vaporize into a shower of coins. He will find himself bouncing on randomly placed mini trampolines in an effort to reach tempting star coins that are teasingly out of reach. In fact, everything about the game says “one big tease” as it constantly tempts you to forget about any time limit or the risk of losing a life as you desperately explore, hoping to find another stash of coins.
Coins can come from anywhere. Kicking the odd Koopa shell in the right direction can lead to loads of coins erupting and cascading beside you, if you’re in the right place and under the right circumstances. There are even blocks with randomly sequenced numbers flashing on them, indicating there are 5 to 50 available coins to you, depending when you jump up and whether you hit it right on time. There are so many surprises for you to find that you will occasionally give yourself a pat on the back and a ‘I knew it was there all along’ smug grin. Those moments are priceless, what can I say.
The New Super Mario Bros. 2 underwater worlds really got me hook, line and sinker. The music is completely uplifting and upbeat, even though you’ll find yourself face to face with giant cheep-cheeps and whirlpools just waiting to take you under the current. You’ll try and get Mario to swim desperately through the water, tapping frantically trying to find the flag or the nearest check point, whichever comes first. Some of the levels are easy and you’ll find yourself dashing through them with ease, whilst other stages through the game you will be dying many times. “Not again”, I hear you scream at your 3DS as your efforts have fallen face first into the ground. The New Super Mario Bros. 2 does you give the opportunity to use the special white Tanooki suit by using the invincibility Leaf, which becomes available after five failed attempts of a level. Once you’ve got this sparkly suit firmly on your Mario body, you’ll be able to move through the level without dying, unless you fall from the sky without a landing or jump head first into a boiling pool of lava.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 places the emphasis firmly on collecting the golden coins, and has even included the Coin Rush mode to help you in your quest. In Coin Rush mode you have the opportunity to play through three sets of stages back to back collecting as many gold coins as possible, all with only one life. If you’re up for the challenge, you can go head to head with a friend via StreetPass as you try to better each others scores.
I will say that I was a little disappointed with the 3D effect in the game. All it really does is make the background look slightly blurry and “in the distance”. New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a stunning game though, and not using the 3D effect has absolutely no impact of this at all.
To be honest, when I first heard about the New Super Mario Bros. 2, I felt slightly underwhelmed at the prospect of another “carbon copy” Mario game. But although the game has very little by way of innovation, the simple hook of collecting coins, along with the highly polished nostalgic gameplay that we have all come to know and love, has resulted in a game that is very difficult to put down.
Have you got the patience to collect 1,000,000 gold coins? I’ll see you sometime next year…