Our journey through the four waves of New Super Mario Bros. 2 DLC is at an end. Here we are, with the Mystery Adventures and Impossible packs, waiting until the next big portable Mario release to see what Nintendo has up its sleeves.
It's easy to go into these impressions being skeptical of something called "The Impossible Pack," and I don't blame you. Thankfully, I'm pleased to report that it delivers -- it wipes the floor with the Nerve-Wrack-Pack, and it's possibly the most challenging set of stages Nintendo has ever officially offered.
New Super Mario Bros. 2Coin Pack Set #4 Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo Release: December 20, 2012 MSRP: $2.50 per pack (2 packs), or $5.00 for the "bundle"
The gimmick of Mystery Adventures is the presence of secrets. Not just a few secrets, mind you: tons of them. Every wall could be a fake. Some rooms have hidden entrances that are only triggered by staying in them for long periods at a time. The second level features a flying question mark ship with hidden vine secrets -- you get the idea.
Each level has multiple paths to follow, and thus, it's up to you to figure out the best course of action to reach the coin limit. Some areas feature miniature puzzles, others will require a good eye to spot a tiny crack in the wall.
I had fun in my first few runs trying to count the sheer number of secrets, but after a short while, it all sort of blended together. There's one neat part with an elevator involving P-Switches, but the concept isn't explored as far as it could have been.
Mystery Adventures has a lot of cool things going for it, but ultimately, it combines elements from a few packs that you've seen before (e.g., the Coin Challenge B and the Classic packs). While it has a few novel concepts that will probably take you a handful of runs to unearth, there's nothing that really screams a purchase.
The Impossible pack, on the other hand, demands your attention.
I'm going to take a second to rant on the lack of difficulty in Mario games. For the last two big 2D releases, Nintendo comes out with some PR statement near the launch, promising that gamers shouldn't worry, and that their new game will be challenging.
They did it for New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and for New Super Mario Bros. U. The thing is, those games are actually not challenging -- far from it. Even if you include the task of getting every star coin and completing every star world level, they still don't scratch that itch that the retro games instilled in us.
Although it's just three mere levels, the Impossible Pack in New Super Mario Bros. 2 scratches that itch -- more than ever before. In fact, if you exclude that one unofficial rom-hack Mario NES game, this is probably the most difficult Mario related thing Nintendo has officially ever done.
The 100 coin goal is probably the first indicator of a challenge on Nintendo's part. There are zero coins, and if you exclude the flag in the middle of each level that functions as a mushroom, there are no power-ups. Period.
No stars, leaves, flowers, anything -- even the gold flower at the beginning of the stage is cleverly disabled. Any coins you earn are purely skill related, and received at the end of the level for your remaining time.
Of course, these core precepts would be nothing if the levels themselves weren't well designed -- and thankfully, they are. The first stage is a mix of a short underwater section with tons of Spiny Cheep Cheeps (and a few Berthas!), a very lengthy moving platform section, and an infuriating part at the end that features Hammer Bros. and Chain Chomps in tandem.
Stage two is a neat concept that involves lots of wall kick climbing, fire ropes, and flying fire enemies. The kicker here is that you're almost guaranteed to get hit at some point in the first level, so you're probably going to go into the second stage as little Mario (and so on for level three).
The final stage is probably the worst of them all, as there's a constant threat of purple death coming up from the ground. Unlike the first two levels, which allow for some forgivable mistakes, everything needs to be perfect in level three; instant death awaits you at a moment's notice.
There are tricks to each level that you'll probably pick up after fifty or so tries, but they're still difficult despite your attempts to cheese them. These tricks only add to the charm, as they were clearly intentional.
I attempted this pack around a hundred times, and out of every one of my runs, I reached the second level probably half those times, and the third level only a scant few times.
Considering the standard rule where if you die at any point, you start at the very beginning, and the lack of power-ups, this pack can get infuriating -- but I love it for it. (Of course, you could use the White Tanooki Suit as always, but where's the fun in that?)
If you can only get one level pack for New Super Mario Bros 2., get the Impossible pack. In fact, if you can find NSMB 2 on the cheap one day, pick it up just to buy this $2.50 pack. It's that good, and I sincerely hope Nintendo delivers at least some form of ancillary content in other games going forward that matches this challenge.
If I had to rate every paid level pack in order of quality, it would probably go something like this:
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