Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

New Super Mario Bros. 2

Review: New Super Mario Bros. 2

2:00 PM on 07.30.2012 // Jim Sterling

New Super Mario Bros. released for the Nintendo DS in 2006. The "new" in the title was a somewhat ironic reference to the fact that Mario had returned to his 2D platforming roots, a return that many gamers welcomed with open arms. It helped that the game was brilliant fun, of course. 

Over half a decade later, the "new" in the title takes on a further irony, because in spite of the fresh powers and an enhanced focus on collecting coins, there's really nothing "new" about New Super Mario Bros. 2. Still, Old New Super Mario Bros. 2 probably wouldn't look quite so attractive on the packaging. 

Not that being old means a game is necessarily bad. It just means it's not new.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 (Nintendo 3DS)
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo 
Released: August 19, 2012 
MSRP: $39.99

If there's one thing more tiresome than watching Princess Peach get kidnapped, it's reviewers pretending to be shocked that Princess Peach has been kidnapped. Suffice it to say that Princess Peach has been kidnapped, and Mario is yet again the only "man" capable of taking down Bowser and his wretched clan of amoral children. If you were expecting a rich story about the moral implications of transhumanism as Mario is forced to undergo life-saving robotic enhancements that he never asked for, then I'm sorry. Your change of pace is in another castle. 

New Super Mario Bros. 2 follows the blueprint laid out in 2006 with scalpel precision. There are six main worlds and a pair of optional ones to be discovered using Mini-Mushrooms in certain stages. Each world has stages presented on a map, with a sub-castle containing a mini-boss and a final castle containing a Koopa Kid (taking over from Bowser Jr. in the first game). Levels have three hidden Star Coins which can be collected and spent to open new paths on the world map. 

The platforming gameplay is similarly faithful to archetypal specifications, as Mario scuttles from left to right, navigates chasms, and bounces on the heads of Bowser's usual Troopas, Goombas, and Drybones. There are a few new enemy types this time around, but most of them are just slightly varied plays on older creatures. As always, Mario can collect Mushrooms to increase his size, Fire Flowers to shoot fireballs, and Leaves to gain flying raccoon powers. If you've been in the same room as somebody playing a Mario game, you'll find it all incredibly familiar. 

None of this is to say that Nintendo hasn't made some small effort to shake things up. New Super Mario Bros. 2's token gimmick is greed, as players are showered with more coins than ever before. In prior games, coins existed merely as life currency -- you get 100 coins, you gain a 1UP. Now, coins practically drown players as they strive for the ultimate goal: collect one million of the things. No longer is the objective just to get through each course and put an end to Bowser's machinations. Now players have to grab as much gold as they can along the way. 

Most of this sequel's new ideas are based entirely around the premise of money-grubbing. New gold rings are situated in levels which, when passed through, turn enemies golden and reward the player with extra coins in a number of ways. For instance, if a golden Koopa Troopa is knocked into its shell and kicked along a platform, it'll drop coins along its entire path. Meanwhile, Hammer Bros will start tossing coins at the player instead of their namesake weaponry. Players can also nab the Prize Block power-up, which this time plonks a golden cube on their head and dishes out more coins the faster Mario runs.

NSMB2 goes out of its way to emphasize the importance of coins. POW Blocks are everywhere, ready to turn ordinary bricks into shiny gold. Coins will fly out from the background whenever Mario passes by invisible checkpoints. New roulette blocks dish out coins in multiples of five, and there's even a new Golden Fire Flower, which causes huge chunks of blocks to explode in a shower of money, and hands out five free coins for every enemy caught in the blast. As if that wasn't enough, Rainbow Courses can be unlocked, special stages that reduce the enemy count and focus entirely on snatching as much loot as possible. 

Although the shift in dynamic is subtle and mostly cosmetic, the exploitation of the player's natural hoarding instinct does instigate something of a change in the way the game is played. Most gamers have been trained by years of playing to collect stuff, and Nintendo knows this. It's no longer enough to just grab that flagpole at the end of a course and feel like a good job was done. True satisfaction can only be gleaned from a feeling that enough riches were obtained, and I have to commend Nintendo for dramatically altering the way the game is approached without doing much at all the change how it actually plays. 

Unfortunately, while NSMB2's lust for coinage gives it an addictive quality, it doesn't give it the same sense of replay value the original had. I played the original New Super Mario Bros. over and over again because it was just that damn splendid, and I wanted to explore every nook and cranny. Grabbing gold can be fun for a while, but it feels like a shallow endeavor, especially with the lack of tangible rewards during the long slog to one million coins. Being constantly reminded of how many coins I've collected doesn't so much inspire me to keep going as remind me how long I've still got to go, and one feels rather empty when constantly being told they've got thousands of coins with no real way to benefit from them. If a game is going to shower me in money, I want to feel like I can spend it. The coins, however, are as lacking in value as they've always been, and once the player cottons on to that fact, the collection angle feels vapid and unrewarding. The difference between NSMB2 and its predecessor is the difference between instinctual, thoughtless addiction and genuinely endearing infatuation. 

I must stress that New Super Mario Bros. 2 is still fun, and well worth obtaining. All the pieces are in place for a solid Mario experience. Level design is welcoming enough to new players while providing a few tricky challenges to veterans, and the optional content provides stiffer resistance overall. The platforming is as expertly crafted as it's always been, featuring skilled level design and some fiendishly placed Star Coins for those aiming to thoroughly complete their adventure. Everything's enjoyable, everything is as good as it's always been ... but it never strives to be better. 

Without the sense of wonder and nostalgia that the first game was able to milk, a lot of the gleam has worn off for this sequel. As Mario retreads familiar ground, revisiting the standard snow worlds and water worlds, going into more haunted houses and fighting some of the least inventive bosses of the franchise, one doesn't feel as inspired as one did in games past. In many ways, New Super Mario Bros. 2 feels like it's going through the motions, coming across more like a stopgap game than a true sequel in any sense of the world. The coin metagame only serves to enhance that feeling -- giving it an "expansion-with-a-gimmick" atmosphere as opposed to that of a new, full game. 

Outside of the main single-player mode is a "Coin Rush" sidegame that randomly selects three previously played courses and charges players with the task of collecting as many coins as possible and reaching the end of the level within a strict time limit. The player's best results can be shared via StreetPass, giving the mode a competitive edge that might make it more attractive. That attraction would have been better crafted, however, by implementing some online leaderboards. Instead, there is no online interaction, so the chance to compete seems artificially limited, all for a desire to justify the existence of the 3DS' local communication features. 

Co-op lets two players go through the main game together, though again it is local only -- and both users will need a copy of the game. Multiplayer is ostensibly just the regular game with another guy hopping around, a situation made doubly true by the fact that players have to inexplicably share a single screen. One player will always be tied to the camera of another, making him or her act more like Tails in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 than a true partner. Still, serious coin collectors will want to make use of co-op as much as possible, as it dishes out twice the amount of coins as payment for frustration. 

New Super Mario Bros. 2 is good. It was always going to be good, because Nintendo makes good games. That was never in doubt. However, it's a markedly more vacuous experience, bereft as it is of fresh gameplay and rigidly sticking to a formula with such zeal one would almost believe it a religious imperative of the developers. The coin collecting silliness may alter the player's approach somewhat, but it is nonetheless superficial and many players will doubtless get bored of it before hitting their million. The gimmick serves as an allegory for the entire game, really -- a glittering distraction, lacking any real substance.

At its core, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a Mushroom Kingdom coin -- shiny and addictive, but carrying no practical value whatsoever. 



New Super Mario Bros. 2 - Reviewed by Jim Sterling
Likable - That's a seven, which is actually a different number than five. It's more than ok. We like this game. I don't want to play it every day forever and ever, but it's definitely worth the time I invested in it, and I'll be picking it up again to relive the fun sometime down the line.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure JimSterling Tips
Destructoid reviews editor, responsible for running and maintaining the cutting edge videogame critique that people ignore because all they want to see are the scores at the end. Also a regular f... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
New Super Mario Bros. 2

  Jan 30

Nintendo announces the NSMB 2 Millionare Coin Hunt

Get a certificate for earning a million coins

  Dec 21

Impressions: New Super Mario Bros. 2 DLC #4

Mystery Adventures and Impossible packs

  Nov 27

Free New Super Mario Bros. 2 DLC is out now

Super Mario Bros. 1-1 and 1-2 included

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

So that just happened: The Talos Principle

Sick, Sad and just dumb news: 25th October - Leighapalooza

Context Matters! Fanservice's Secrets EXPOSED!

To editorialize or not to editorialize: An editorial

Tiny Dangerous Dungeons REVIEW - The Pocket Metroidvania

Cblogs of 11/24/15 + Big Ass Fort

Primal Carnage: Extinction Review (PS4)

Belated Spoiler-Free SOMA Review

Friday Night Fights: The Blackest Of Fridays

Super Destructoid Community Interviews Hyper Encore ##Reload

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Boy howdy, does Divinity: Original Sin take a while to get going. But, it was worth it in the end. Probably the most hardcore RPG I've played. Stellar writing, at that! Combat's pretty amazing too. [img][/img]
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
So it seems I've locked into the Neutral ending for SMT IV and now I need to find specific challenge quests and complete them...? How (un)fun! Google is your friend - the videogame.
Riobux avatarRiobux
Interested in playing some Pathfinder? Trying to arrange a Dtoid Pathfinder group for Saturday nights (GMT) on Skype & Roll 20. If you're new to pen-and-paper RPGs, I don't mind at all and can bring you up to speed quick. Just comment if interested.
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Local convention had a great selection of game soundtracks 5 for $20! I got Halo 3: ODST (2 disk!), Gears of War 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Darksiders 2 (2 disk!), and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Some of the best soundtracks of the last 7 years!
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Photos and videos are back on quickposts but clipping on some devices. We're going to add a new quickpost editing interface so photos and videos can only be displayed one way (a la twitter) to solve this. Also, a My cBlog link was added to your user menu
Flegma avatarFlegma
Machine-washed my Wii Fit meter yesterday by accident. Took the battery out and let it dry for the night. Luckily the meter still worked - but it had counted a fair number of steps more that day.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Finally killed Ludwig, now if I could only get passed the 2 hunters on the second floor. that 2 some is rather annoying,and her holy blade kills in only a few hits. wish mine was that strong.
Casus Gaming avatarCasus Gaming
After reading a blog post about DMC4 I decided to watch all the cutscenes on Youtube. Tried the games years ago and couldn't get into them, but man that shit was stylish. Likeable protagonists, intense drama... still think DmC reboot wasn't that bad tho.
lewness avatarlewness
me on 1st ff14 raid (void ark): ooh so many people and lights, so many lights, lights, fuck I can't see, what is happening, i don't understand, is it tuesday already, get on the platform fuuuuck, wow void helm
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Just a reminder that you have until the 30th to get your Bloggers Wanted post, "Thankful it's over" in. I'm either going to tell you how I ruined my best online gaming experience or rip Twilight Princess a new one. Maybe both.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Huh. I just found out the developers of Hatred (remember that controversy?) region-locked their game to prevent it from being accessed by Australians. Destructive Creations are more censor-happy than Nintendo, it seems. Where's the outrage?
Oh yeah, I have an account on this site.
Parismio avatarParismio
Ever wanted to get that item behind that safe in the beginning of Fallout 4?:
Shinta avatarShinta
Got Resident Evil 4 Wii for $5. Uh ... this might be my favorite version. I'm just getting headshots nonstop. Did I miss any other Wii games that are frequently overlooked? Like, really obscure Wii games that no one talks about? I'm interested.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Poeple due not aprecciate teh hrdships of bein a squid.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Guys, check out your blogs! Just be sure to bring tissues. I wish I had. [img][/img]
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Anyone see the new Captain America trailer? It's pretty dope!
Shinta avatarShinta You're welcome.
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Update: played through Hyper Dimension Neptunia Rebirth, reminded why I don't like the series, and requested a refund on it and its sequel. Not sure if they'll refund the sequel, but if they honor at least the first, I'll use that money to get Undertale.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
I hope the new Star Wars movie answers the biggest question I have about the franchise; do Midi-Chlorians poop?
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -