In 2006, Nintendo released New Super Mario Bros. for the DS, and the classic 2D side-scrolling platformer for a new generation took the world by storm. While the much-anticipated sequel – simply named New Super Mario Bros. 2 – offers the familiar elements – clever level design, unique power-ups and enemies, three Star Coins per level, and loads of secrets – the fun factor remains high.
We all know the typical story of Mario games and NSMB2 is no different. Bowser is up to no good again and with the help of the Koopa Kids, Princess Peach gets captured while Mario and Luigi are out flying around. Then it’s off to World 1-1 to start another journey to rescue Peach. Veteran Mario players will find all the classic environments and obstacles in play: slippery movement in snow levels, quicksand in the deserts, untouchable lava, plumber-eating fish and more. Haunted mansions filled with Boos are my favorites since they include multiple paths to the end-level flagpole, and I always wanted to play them again right after completion.
Once again, level design is top-notch. Each one has hidden areas that’ll have you checking every pipe and jumping on top of walls off-screen for secrets. Some involve hopping across enemies like Koopa Paratroopas to get to that last Star Coin or finding a hidden vine block to climb up into the sky to a bonus area. There are auto-scrolling levels, mushroom platforms that grow and shrink, moving platforms that guide you across a bottomless pit, and other obstacles that add some challenge.
Controls are simple and responsive, and power-ups like shooting fireballs and flying aid you along the way. NSMB2 is not difficult and can be beaten stress-free in a day, but the real fun is collecting every Star Coin and finding all those secrets.
By far the biggest twist to NSMB2 is the coins. Nintendo wants you to collect a million and gives you the resources to do so. Unique power-ups like golden flowers will have you shoot fireballs at wooden blocks and turn them into coins. Jumping through gold rings will turn enemies into gold; throwing a Koopa will leave a trail of coins wherever the shell travels. Hitting a gold block will leave it stuck on Mario’s head, and the faster you run the more coins you collect.
It’s a great way to encourage exploration in every level, but unfortunately it feels kind of meaningless after a while. Star Coins are needed to unlock different areas in a world, but the regular coins didn’t do much other than add to my massive extra-life stockpile. My total coin counter just kept going up, with the occasional pop-up message for achieving a milestone number. By the time I beat the game I had just over 25,000 collected, so nabbing a million will take hours and hours of grinding. I kind of wish the goal was 100,000 instead.
Adding to the coin frenzy is Coin Rush mode, which has you speed through three random levels to get as many coins as possible in the fastest time – all with one life. Again, this is another great idea that doesn’t go far enough. Modes like these are great for constant playing to get the highest score and brag to others about it. Unfortunately, there’s no online mode to view leaderboards, and the only way to challenge others is through StreetPass. Nintendo will occasionally release SpotPass announcements on how many coins have been collected regionally and worldwide. Japan’s in the lead now, since they got the game first.
Nintendo is promising extra content after NSMB2’s release in the form of downloadable content for Coin Rush mode. I like this idea, and for the right price it would be fun to try out. There’s also local co-op to play through the main game with two players.