New Super Mario Bros. 2
Nintendo may have focused on another Mario game during their E3 press conference, but they didn’t completely ignore the plumber’s other title on the show floor. 3DS units made their way to the publisher’s booth today, and I had a chance to play three levels of Mario’s new portable adventure.
Despite being on 3DS, I didn’t notice anything that stood out as particularly gimmicky when it came to 3D effects. The first stage was reminiscent of the original Super Mario Bros.’ levels that tasked players with avoiding mobs of Cheep Cheeps while crossing a bridge. Previous New Super Mario Bros. games have featured rings that trigger timed formations of red coins, but this game introduced a new type of these. These new rings caused a string of coins to follow all of the Cheep Cheeps, who temporarily turned gold.
The focus on coins was present throughout all three levels I played. One new golden flower power-up causes Mario to glow gold and throw giant golden fireballs, and it also causes this writer to write the word “gold” more times in one sentence than he ever has. These fireballs turn enemies and most blocks into coins, which can lead to an explosion of currency if you’re in a block-filled area. To give you a sense of how extensive the focus on coins is, I saw a counter at the end of the third level that told me I had collected 1,832 of them (although it wasn’t clear if this was for that single level or all three in total).
During the second, desert-themed level, I came across a power leaf that grants Mario his iconic raccoon suit. Note that this is the standard raccoon suit from Super Mario Bros. 3, not the Tanooki suit that was recently resurrected in Super Mario 3D Land. It behaves just as you remember, complete with the p-meter icons in the lower left. It can be used to fly and to swipe enemies and blocks, with the only difference being the behavior of the feathered descent it allows. In SMB 3, the tail could be wagged to slow your fall. In New Super Mario Bros. 2, it’s more of a Yoshi-like hover. A small detail, I know, but one that longtime Mario fans will most likely notice.
After beating the first two levels, I was treated to a final stage that was similar to the vertically-scrolling levels from SMB 3 and Super Mario World. Mario rode sliding blocks and avoided Dry Bones as he made his way to a boss door, where I was greeted by an old friend (well, foe). When I entered the door, I found myself against some Reznors. For those that haven’t played Super Mario World since 1991 (or not at all), they’re the triceratops that stand on rotating platforms above a fire pit. I dispatched of them just like I did on the Super Nintendo, which involves hitting the block they’re standing on from underneath. They fell into the lava, and the demo concluded.
Nintendo doesn’t seem to be drastically changing the Mario formula with this title, and I couldn’t be more okay with that. This series in particular exists purely to remind longtime fans of the gameplay they fell in love with, as well as to introduce a new generation of kids to an experience that created so many gamers. The publisher has a perfect track record when it comes to the core Mario franchise (in which I include the New Super Mario Bros. games), and my taste of New Super Mario Bros. 2 assures me that I’ll love this new entry just the same.