Itâs a new Mario game! For Nintendo fans, such a release is really quite unlike any other. The character, and his penchant for jumping on things, has been a staple of the marquee brand ever since they made their first steps into videogames (relatively speaking, if not literally factual).
Despite the name, the ânewâ Super Mario Bros. variant of the perennial franchise is most similar to the classic version of the formula: side-scrolling, platform-perusing, brick-busting, and bowser-bopping - all within the time limit, of course. There are revisions, naturally, but as usual, theyâre more of the âevolutionaryâ (rather than ârevolutionaryâ) type.
Improvements to the formula include the new, only-possible-on-3DS, âStreetPassâ mode, that lets you challenge other players to see who can earn the most coins on a set of random levels. Earning coins, too, is something of a theme in the game, with an overall âearn 1,000,000 coinsâ meta-task towering over every other possible achievement.
To help you earn coins, there are a couple of key new powerups: the head-mounted coin brick (that rewards you an automatic coin every step you take) and the coin flower. The coin flower is the most interesting of the two, as with it you can turn enemies, bricks, or pretty much anything not nailed down into bankable currency; a clever trick, even if jumping on things is the more skillful way of dispatching your foes.
Another bonus is a gold ring that, when jumped through, turns all of your enemies gold. Donât be fooled into trying to collect them, though; theyâre just as deadly as they were before. Kill âem, however, and youâll get all sorts of bonuses: jump on heads to earn bonus coins, chain together a series of head-jumps and youâll multiply the reward, and a Koopa Troopa shell will continually pump out coins as it bounces dangerously around, etc - all of which encourages you to perform dangerous deeds while the powerup lasts.
While it sounds like youâll earn plenty of coins while playing through the game, the truth is that youâll finish your basic playthrough with somewhere short of 20,000 of the things. Youâll earn more if you go back and try to get all of the star coins you missed, of course, and more still as you play through the bonus worlds that unlock once you - spoiler alert - rescue the princess. If youâve a million in your sights, however, the only real chance you have of achieving that is by way of the StreetPass enabled Coin Rush mode.
Coin Rush collects three random levels and challenges the player to play through them - with just one life - and earn as many coins as possible. Records are exchanged with other players as you walk around town, and many bonus coins can be earned this way; but only if others around you are also playing. If you live in rural NZ, and donât plan on playing NSMB2 daily for the next decade, the million coin challenge isnât really achievable for you.
Level design is, for the most part, at least âgoodâ, with more âexcellentâ peaks than there are âoh lordyâ lows. That said, there are some clunkers in here, and the spikes caused by what I can only really describe as mean level design can be a bit frustrating. Additionally, while the occasional in-level puzzle is fun to nut out, some of the secrets are hidden without any kind of sign posting, making their discovery a matter of either stumbling across them by chance or studiously jumping at every reachable pixel lest it contain a hidden pathway.
Once again, the âthanks for playing, hereâs a gold starâ powerup, officially known as the Invincibility Leaf, is on hand should you repeatedly fail a level (or fall down holes while looking for secrets). Choose to use it and youâll be invulnerable to enemy attacks, which can make a big difference to many encounters (trivializing most boss encounters, for example), although levels that revolve around not falling to your death will still present a challenge as you can still die that way.
The music thatâs here is great; not only is it very chirpy and fun to listen to, but the enemies will often dance along to it at key moments. In addition to being super cute, thatâs something youâll need to look out for, as it will affect their position - a key consideration when jumping around and trying not to die. Unfortunately, however, thereâs little variety; youâll hear the same music a lot.
Visually, too, thereâs lots to be excited about. It looks great compared to the (DS) original, with assets that donât look a million miles from what you might see on the Wii. On the small screen they look very nice, and there are loads of nifty little touches that longtime fans of the series will appreciate. The 3D, while it works, doesnât really add anything.
Ultimately, itâs a fun Mario game. The usual elements are all here, and they sit nicely alongside some of the newer options. It definitely lacks the high level of polish weâve come to expect of the series, however, and settles at merely âvery goodâ in that regard. It also pales in comparison to the previously released (and far superior) 3D Land, making an otherwise very good game seem somewhat lacklustre when held up against its older brother.