Game: “New Super Mario Bros. 2” (3DS)

Ahh the 3DS, the jewel of the portable gaming world. Nintendo might have had a shaky start with the launch, but thinking about it, so did all the other consoles and handhelds in recent memory (except the Wii). A barrage of new games from their roster of popular franchises – as well as a hefty price cut – saw the 3DS start taking off at the end of 2011.

Since then it’s been chugging away nicely, racking up faster sales than the DS (or it was at one point, I read). But Nintendo do love those franchises, and it was time to bring its biggest (THE biggest) franchise to this exciting new technology. That was “Super Mario 3D land”. But to keep the people stuck in the past happy, we also got “New Super Mario Bros. 2”.

I should really be in the latter camp – I get motion-sickness from a lot of games these day, so a side-scrolling platformer was perfect for me. But why did it feel so empty? Honestly speaking, this should have just been called Super Mario Bros. 5, as it – and its DS predecessor – were just extensions of the original series with very little added changed.

Sure there are a few different mushrooms in each edition: the giant one, the teeny one, the gold man one(?), but it’s all basically the same. Jump on baddies, hit blocks, get coins, get to the finish. The “New” series also distinguished themselves by handing out extra lives like they’re going out of fashion. Having just finished NSMB2 (it didn’t take many hours at all), I’ve got over 200 lives.

It would make sense if they were easier to lose. But despite a few taxing moments, the game was a breeze – even that last boss. Bizarrely the levels I died most on were the warp cannon dash levels you need to complete to access the two secret worlds.

That’s not to say it’s not entertaining. I mean it’s MARIO. It was easy but it was familiar, restful and addictive. Not massively addictive – after its Q4 2012 release I put it down after the first world because it just felt so unimaginative – but there is plenty of replay value for the OCD loons.

The three secret coins on each level are usually quite easy to get, but getting them all will take a while. The big quest (although this formed no part of the carbon-copy ‘story’) is to get 1,000,000 coins. With the addition of “Coin Rush” mode – in which you play 3 random levels in succession without dying to rack up thousands of coins – this target could be achieved in a reasonable amount of time, but it just amounts to playing those levels again.

If people aren’t bored of this type of Mario game yet, then I suspect they (and I) will never be, but it’s the closest I’ve come to resenting the franchise that built Nintendo. It’s disappointing to feel that in the transition from DS to 3DS that I can’t see a single difference between the two games – in fact it doesn’t even feel like it has the scale of the NES’s Super Mario Bros. 3, and that’s really unforgivable.

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