New Super Mario Bros. 2: A Great Companion for U

nsmbu2smallI’ve already spoken about New Super Mario Bros. 2 before– twice, even– but I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve done the game some sort of injustice in the process. I don’t regret anything I said, and my feelings about certain matters remain as true as ever, but I cannot help but feel that I might not have conveyed the proper message; that I somehow implied it was a bad game.

Nothing could be further from the truth, though. While I feel some elements were underutilized, not up to certain standards, or just not as fresh as in previous iterations, it’s still a great game– and one I’ve come to play and enjoy even more since writing my original review.

This is due to a couple of factors. Believe it or not, one is my more recent playthrough of New Super Mario Bros. U. While I’ve yet to complete it to 100 percent and it satisfied my desire for things I was looking for in New Super Mario Bros. 2, it left me wanting more, which is where New Super Mario Bros. 2 fit the bill nicely.

New Super Mario Bros. 2, I find, works much better as a complement and/or a follow-up to New Super Mario Bros. U; the Wii U brings the main course, while the Nintendo 3DS presents a delightful dessert or chaser. Unfortunately, with New Super Mario Bros. U as a Wii U launch title slated for November, New Super Mario Bros. 2 had to go on first, which was unavoidable, given the circumstances.

As an encore (apologies for switching metaphors here), New Super Mario Bros. 2 is top-notch, bringing more of the core style of gameplay from the Wii U title while also being full of its own tricks, such as the return of Raccoon Mario and the addition of the Gold Flower. Plus, it has the Coin Rush mode in lieu of New Super Mario Bros. U‘s many challenges.

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Ah, the Coin Rush mode. When I first reviewed the game, there wasn’t much to it– it was basically the same levels you’d already played in the game, only now with a shorter time limit, hurried music, and a new objective in mind. But since then, something happened.

Downloadable content. It’s a term which makes many gamers cringe as they fear for what parts of the regular game were ripped out or otherwise withheld to make an extra buck. But in New Super Mario Bros. 2, they developed it after the fact, and made sure to deliver the full experience first.

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Since the game was released, ten new course packs have been made available to download for $2.50 each, and this is where the game really starts to shine. I’ve downloaded and played all but one of them so far– I ran out of money before getting the Impossible Pack, and really, that’s one place even I’m fearful to tread.

I’m a good Mario player, I don’t doubt that, but I don’t think I have the skills, nerves, or even temper needed to get through that pack. Even the five-star difficulty of Nerve-Wrack Pack has so far proven to be more than I can overcome.

Fortunately, there are plenty of other packs which focus less on ego-crushing difficulty and more on being unique, inventive, and just overall fun to go through. In many cases, you’re treated to more elaborate layouts and types of levels you just don’t get to experience in the main game, such as traveling on a golden barge through coin-filled tunnels.

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My personal favorite (perhaps ironically, considering) would probably be the very nostalgic Gold Classics Pack. This set of courses borrows heavily from Mario’s past, and is basically a pastiche of different levels and parts of levels from the original Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, and as you can see above, the original Mario Bros., too. Each section has numerous passages and pipes to travel through, offering a ton of variety in its combinations.

Really, if you get only one course pack, make it this one. It’s left me hungering for new versions of the original NES Super Mario Bros. games (and Super Mario World) remade with New Super Mario Bros.-quality graphics and sound. I know some will disagree with me on that, but the Gold Classics Pack convinced me it would be a lot of fun to see everything old as new again.

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If there is one thing which does bother me (however slightly) about the downloadable content, it’s the fact it all has the same time limit imposed on it, which is extended only by collecting clocks scattered around each course or reaching checkpoint flags. I’d love to explore these stages more at length, but some don’t feel like there is time for it, not if you have any hope of making it to the end.

Then again, perhaps that’s the entire point? To their credit, the short time limit really has you pick your spots and your paths, which adds quite a bit of replay value to some of them. It seems like I find a new area every time I revisit the Gold Classics Pack in particular, for instance.

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Altogether, I feel more confident in recommending New Super Mario Bros. 2 now than I did around eight months ago, particularly to those who have New Super Mario Bros. U and want more, and especially with the addition of the downloadable content available. Moreover, I’m now more excited to see what Nintendo turns out with the New Super Luigi U downloadable content for New Super Mario Bros. U later this year, and whatever else they might bring out to follow.

All in all, it’s looking like a good time to be a Mario fan.

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About the author

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.