New Super Mario Bros. 2
Nintendo has a knack for taking the simplest concepts, even ones that already exist, and transforming those ideas into key selling points. Just look at New Super Mario Bros. 2. Here's a game where the object is to collect as many gold coins as possible. This has been part of the Mario tradition since the 80s, a sub goal almost every player focused on en route to saving Princess Peach from Bowser's clutches, and yet this very idea takes center stage in the plumber's newest 2D platformer. Gimmicky? Perhaps, but some interesting wrinkles make it infinitely more enjoyable than in games past, resulting in a frantic grab for each piece of shiny loot.
It's easy to criticize this game for delivering the same old experience, to which we reply with a.) not necessarily, and b.) even if it does, since when is that a bad? Sure, New Super Mario Bros. 2 looks and feels like its 2006 predecessor (a 29 million seller), but this is most definitely a great thing. Princess Peach gets captured yet again, and Mario and Luigi must explore more than 80 challenging levels to rescue their damsel in distress while foiling the Koopalings' evil schemes. To that end, you can expect the usual Mario conventions, as the pudgy hero jumps on enemies' heads, blasts baddies with fireballs and becomes invincible with a well-paced Super Star. The game feels like a comfy pair of slippers, with super tight controls that give players pinpoint precision.
As for difficulty, it won't take long to blast through the game, so at first, New Super Mario Bros. 2 seems a bit short, but doing this would result in missing all the Star Coins and secret levels. Just attempting to obtain all those Star Coins will add several hours to the game.
Layered on top of this is the need to collect as many gold coins as possible, not just to score extra lives, but to also reach a million coins (the game keeps track), which is no easy feat. That said, Nintendo dreamed up new and exciting ways to maximize one's loot, from stumbling upon Gold Flowers that turn enemies yellow and give up extra coins when killed, to a Gold Block that gets stuck on Mario or Luigi's head, producing a ton of coins the faster they run. There's even a Coin Rush mode that sends players through three levels in a mad scramble for coinage.
All of this and more would seem inconsequential, but again, Nintendo's right there to make it addicting with the help of StreetPass and SpotPass. The former lets gamers share their Coin Rush high scores with other players they meet, while the latter takes collected coins and adds them to a Worldwide Coin Total. There's also a reward for reaching a million, though Nintendo remains tightlipped on the prize.
The only thing that disappoints, really, is glasses free 3D. Being a 2D game, New Super Mario Bros. 2 fails to impress on the same level of Super Mario 3D Land, but this was expected, as each title takes place in a different dimension. With this in mind, Nintendo still didn't do as good a job with the special effect, as objects in the background look blurry and unimpressive. Personally, we think the detail really shines with 3D turned off.
Otherwise, this is a 2D Mario style game many players know and love, but with an addictive hook that makes finding Princess Peach seem trivial by comparison. On that note, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is yet another superb platformer from Nintendo, filled with all the elements fans crave. Turns out, greed is definitely good.
Review code provided by Nintendo.
What's Hot: Over 80 new levels to explore, new coin collecting element, Coin Rush mode, StreetPass and SpotPass support fuels desire for more coinage, excellent controls, catchy tunes.
What's Not: Unimpressive 3D effects, too much recycled music.