New Super Mario Bros 2 begins like any other Mario game; Peach is kidnapped once more, and Mario and Luigi must save her. Short and simple, as should be expected from Mario.
The gameplay is as fluid as ever. If you die you always feel like it was your own fault, and not bad game mechanics. The downside to having such great physics however, is that nothing is actually “New” here — Whereas the original New Super Mario Bros 2 felt like like a fresh visit to 2D Mario, this just feels like they don’t know where to go with these classic type Marios anymore. This isn’t bad if you liked the previous games in the ‘New’ series, as much of it feels the same: the great physics, classic 2D Mario Platforming, and of course the great level design. What is also carried along, unfortunately to much dismay, is everything else as well (except your favorite power-ups, no one like penguins anymore). The music, the world themes (Grasslands, Desert, Swamp, etc.), and the same general layout for the stages all return. So what is new here?
Coins. Coins are truly EVERYWHERE in this game. This is to make the ultimate goal in this game possible; collecting one million coins. Your ultimate goal here is the big million. This is a nice mechanic, and it brings Coin Rush (explained in a second) along with it. This goal is great because it means the game will last you quite a while unless you grind for them non-stop. What’s not so great however is that it essentially annihilates any difficulty the game may have had. The game is challenging at times, but considering the fact that you still make a life per 100 coins you will have a lot of lives very quickly. For a bit of an example here: I died a few times in the first world just playing around, and I still ended up with about fifty lives by the time I left. To further show just how many lives you will rack up, one of the “side-goals” in the game is having 999 lives. At one time.
Thankfully, the million mark will most likely be met by using the ‘Coin Rush’ mode — which doesn’t give you lives. If it did, well it’d throw all difficulty right out of the window with the sheer amount of coins you get here. In this mode, you are a given a single life to clear three stages while grabbing as many coins as possible. Sounds reasonably easy, right? Well, that’s why they give you limited time for each of the three stages as well.
The courses chosen for you will be determined by which “Pack” you choose to use. There are three packs: The Mushroom Pack (made up of stages from Worlds 1 and 2), the Flower Pack (made up of stages from World 3 and 4), and the Star Pack (made up of stages from World 5 and 6). For the the first and second stage hitting the top of the flagpole will double your coins. The last stage in each run is always a fortress or castle, which double your coin total after beating the boss. This mode is very addictive and will have you coming back constantly in an effort to beat your highest coin amount in a single Rush.
The game has lasted me twice as long as expected just because of Coin Rush alone. That being said, the game is actually quite short and seems to rely on you enjoying Coin Rush, instead of the main game itself. There are still secret worlds and hidden exits, and the Star Coins return once again, but they just don’t seem to be enough anymore. The Star Coins seem too easy to collect, as almost every trick used here has been used before (This may just because I have played both previous games in this series though). The secret exits are still challenging to seek out, but some may end up being more annoying to find then they are worth (Especially if it leads to a 1-Up house).
The New Super Mario Bros 2 series hasn’t been “New” in quite a while, and may even seem a bit overdone now. Though in my humble opinion, the entries are still spaced apart enough to never feel too common in the multiple “series” of Mario. That said, New Super Mario Bros 2 is good fun, even if it does fall flat in the difficulty area. I would highly recommend this game if you liked the previous games and enjoy constantly speed-running — as Coin Rush is basically a glorified version of doing so. If you’re one to simply beat a game and be done with it though, I don’t believe I can recommend it very much. It is fun no doubt, but it’s weight falls on Coin Rush once all is said and done.
I give New Super Mario Bros 2 a rating of “Great.” The game is definitely good, but not amazing. It is not bad enough to just be good either. The reason for this rating is that the game can be seen as short or repetitive, one or the other, by anyone after a while. This may give the game a “love at first sight” feeling, which turns into boredom before you reach your true goal of such a feat as collecting a million coins.
(This review was written before DLC packs were introduced. They are sold for $2.50 each through the Coin Rush menu option in-game, and include three stages each.)