Hands-on with New Super Mario Bros. 2 for Nintendo 3DS

We’re starting off our tour of Nintendo of Canada’s post-E3 event with the very first game I could not wait to get my hands on: New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the Nintendo 3DS, which is scheduled for a release alongside the upcoming Nintendo 3DS XL on August 19th, 2012. In addition, Nintendo has stated that this will be their first release which will be available as both a physical retail title and as a downloadable title in the Nintendo eShop.

The game was first revealed by Nintendo Co. Ltd. President Satoru Iwata during an investor’s briefing earlier this year, during which a mere handful of screenshots were shown. Though their context was unexplained, one could see that the Raccoon Mario power-up made famous in the hit Super Mario Bros. 3 (as opposed to the full Tanooki Suit seen in Super Mario 3D Land) was back, and that Mario had a new golden form for… some reason. Otherwise, it largely looked like any other New Super Mario Bros. title, for all the positives and negatives that may bring with it.

However, it would not be long before we learned significantly more about the title. At E3 2012, New Super Mario Bros. 2 was one of Nintendo’s marquee titles for the Nintendo 3DS system, and we would learn that the big focus of the game was on collecting coins, both to outdo fellow players in competitive local and StreetPass modes, as well as to reach a goal of one million collected coins throughout all modes.

I’ve expressed elsewhere the positive side of placing an emphasis on the game’s iconic coins in a day and age when the 1UPs they give for every 100 collected are given out by the bucketful, but some remain skeptical, as the reward for reaching this lofty goal remains unknown. I spoke with Nintendo of Canada representative Matt Ryan about such concerns, including some expressed (perhaps facetiously) about the “gimmick” merely “adding a star next to the file name on the menu.” In response, he told us:

“It’s not a ‘gimmick,’ it’s the jackpot. That’s what it is, no doubt; you are collecting coins like crazy in that game. It’s insane how many coins you’re going to collect; the amount of 1UPs you’re going to get are going to help you, yes, but it’s like hitting the jackpot because there’s coins everywhere. And Gold Mario is able to throw gold fireballs, which allow you to gold everything else.

“There’s basically every single opportunity to get coins that you could possibly think of, and you want to get them all… there actually is purpose to collecting all those coins, and I’m not going to tell you what it is, but there’s purpose, and you want to collect as many as you can.

[Regarding the “star on the menu” part] “I don’t think that we would tease if it didn’t actually mean something.”

As for playing the demo itself, there were three stages available, played sequentially: A beach level, a desert, and a fortress. Sadly, the levels with the lovely sunset and nighttime backdrops weren’t included, but a month and a half isn’t too long to wait. In fact, perhaps ironically, almost none of the screens released to the press correspond with the levels we were allowed to play, which makes illustrating our experience a little more interesting.

Suffice to say, the core gameplay is the same New Super Mario Bros. you’ve come to know. As a result, and this is merely speculation, but if you wanted to simply ignore the coin aspect and treat it like any other NSMB game, you could probably do so and still get a solid, quality platforming experience.

As mentioned before, one new twist for the series is the reemergence of Raccoon Mario, who plays very much as you might expect him to. A slight difference, if I’m remembering correctly, is that you no longer have to mash away at the jump button to slow his descent with the tail; much like the cape from Super Mario World and the Tanooki Suit in Super Mario 3D Land, merely holding the button will have Mario make a running motion in the air as he slows his fall.

Offensively, Raccoon Mario seems a little more powerful than in his initial appearance. Some might remember how the tail was ineffective against a number of enemies, including Dry Bones; here, the tail works as well as a jump, sending the bucket of bones to pieces with one swat of the appendage. It also turns out to be quite handy for other enemies as well, including new foes who appear to be the Goomba and Piranha Plant equivalent of Dry Bones, all found in the same fortress. (Actually, the Goomba found there is still defeated by a single stomp; even when they’re dead, Goombas can’t get a break.)

I also had a chance to take on the Reznor boss at the end of the demo. However, unlike the picture in our gallery and the video below, there were only two of the cursed fire-breathing dinosaurs sitting atop the four rotating platforms, meaning I was able to make short work of them (though I didn’t get to test whether the tail had any effect or not).

Perhaps the most fun part of the demo came with the introduction of the Gold Flower. This power-up turns Mario into Gold Mario, who throws gold fireballs which turn bricks into coins. It may simply have been for the purposes of the demo (as power-ups seemed to carry over between stages), but this power-up seems to only be temporary; after completing the course I found it in, Gold Mario became Fire Mario.

The fun part of using Gold Mario isn’t just turning things into coins, but the shockwaves the gold fireballs emit when striking something. When one hits a brick, for example, it’s not so much the fireball which turns bricks into coins, but the large shockwave around the point of impact. This turns the brick blocks it hits into coins, and can even clear rows of solid item/coin blocks with its force as well. The demo stage featured moving platforms consisting of coin blocks, and even some large 4×4 block platforms, and a well-placed gold fireball would clear them all.

It’s surprisingly fun, like throwing small bombs that pay you upon exploding.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg for coin collecting. There are pipes which emit coins, switches, and special blocks which randomly change how many coins they’ll give you when you hit them. Even the Reznors are sitting atop elongated coin blocks, and reaching the end-level flagpole will give you a multiplier for how many coins you’ve collected. In addition to grabbing all the Star Coins, I was finishing levels in the demo with hundreds of coins, and even over a thousand on some occasions.

Matt wasn’t kidding when he said that it was insane, and this is one bit of insanity I can’t wait to explore to its fullest when it comes out on August 19th.

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David Oxford

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you're interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.