Monday, August 27, 2012
Those memories of childhood come flooding back, and though the graphic style is looking resplendent using the modern technology of the 3DS, though simple 3D effects give the game a new sensation of depth, and though the music soundtrack is pleasantly modern, the first enemy remains a hapless goomba, and the first pickup remains a growth mushroom.
By the end of the too-brief running time, that initial nostalgic thrill has well worn off and you’ll have come to realise that there’s nothing particularly memorable about this game, but only if you fall into the same long-time gamer like me – or to put it another way, you’ve now played too many of these games. I’ve clicked through quite a few reviews of New Super Mario Bros. 2 and I’ve come to realise something rather sad about games criticism: there’s a real lack of empathy there. Putting yourself in the shoes of someone who has only had limited exposure to Mario games puts the game in an entirely different light: this is a spectacularly-designed game.
With that goal in sight you’re going to find yourself replaying levels over and over to find ways of weaselling in to the hard-to-reach treasure rooms. You’ll spend hours in the coin rush mode – where a strict timer and one-life-only policy brings the game the closest to a “traditional” Mario challenge that we’ve seen in years. The quest to rescue the Princess yet again (seriously, Nintendo, that was kosher two decades ago, but it’s starting to become cringe-worthy in terms of political correctness) is quickly forgotten as those shiny yellow coins gracefully twirl around in the sky, glittering and beckoning Mario like a moth to a light.
Less compelling is the multiplayer mode, which allows one other person to play along as Luigi over local wireless. Online would have been preferable, and though the game does work fine in multiplayer, there’s sadly few levels that take advantage of the camaraderie in any meaningful way.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 is clever like that. It looks traditional, but really it’s the most progressive game Nintendo has made to star the red-hatted plumber in years. With such little fanfare it’s difficult to even consciously register, New Super Mario Bros. 2 really is a new game.
The real problem this game created for itself is not making more of its own innovation. It’s a real shame that so few critics even noticed that.
For everyone else: give this a go and pretend for a moment you've never played a Mario game before. That fantasy makes New Super Mario Bros 2 irresistible.
- Matt S
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