E3 might be over, but the impressions keep streaming in. New Super Mario Bros. 2 was on the show floor for the last day, tethered, like every other 3DS game at Nintendo’s booth, to an attractive woman. This may have made the game more tolerable than it actually is. The problem with New Super Mario Bros. 2 is that I just played New Super Mario Bros. U, which is far and away the better game. NSMB2 seems unnecessary by comparison–just something to buy for your 3DS.
The demo is divided into three stages: a normal stage, a coin-loaded stage, and a castle stage. The normal stage was poorly designed given the available items: I was able to get the Raccoon Tail, but the stage didn’t have any verticality. Cheep-Cheeps pop up from the shallow water below and there was no point to having this new item. It was hard to hold onto for more than a few seconds. Notably, jumping on P switches turns the Cheep-Cheeps yellow, and they start dragging a line of coins behind them. So this is the first instance of coin-collecting madness. Then it’s off to the coin-grabbing stage, where Mario collects a gold Fire Flower, which gives him the Midas Touch. Everything Mario hits with his gold fireball turns into gold, be it organic or inorganic. And it’s not a timed weapon, so assuming you don’t get hit by a Koopa or something, you can collect coins to your heart’s content. This was surprisingly engaging, but unless the game has leaderboards or specific challenges, it’s not really much of an addition.
Finally, the fortress stage was similar to others of their ilk in the NSMB franchise: largely vertical, a few areas where you have to pick between one or two routes (one of which inevitably leads to a Star Coin), and a miniboss at the end. There were a few new ideas: Dry Piranha Plants, for instance, and relatively difficult-to-find Star Coins. The real surprise, though, was seeing Reznors as the miniboss. Instantly brought a smile to my face!
I don’t know if I actually enjoyed NSMB2. It felt like I was going through the motions, especially compared to NSMBU, which is obviously the better game. Of course, NSMB2 comes out sooner (August) and it’s going to be a digital download. Nintendo didn’t say anything at the conference about system-software locks, so I’m a little nervous to go the Shiny Digital Future route with 3DS games, but still, it’s tempting. I’m sure the game is well-made and plays great, but I need to know more about it, especially whether there will be leaderboards or some way to compare your coin scores to your friends. This feels like a competitive game (and not the awful single-screen co-op) and if it’s done right, it’ll be pretty great.