Hello Master Malstrom
I figured you’d be interested in hearing what people think about New Super Mario Bros. 2. Sadly, I have to echo the sentiment of a previous e-mailer that NSMB2 is not worth its own price point, let alone the cost of a console. I haven’t had the chance to play multiplayer but the core design is so bad that I don’t think it would do very much anyway.
NSMB2 is a worst-case scenario. The red flags highlighted in your posts, such as the coin-collecting element and the development by new developers, did not have to interfere with the basic gameplay so strongly but they did. I went in expecting something like Mario Kart 7, where it wouldn’t be as good as the excellent predecessor but it would still be a good Classic Nintendo game. NSMB2 does not feel like Classic Nintendo, it struggles to feel even like a 2D Mario game.
The first problem is that the game is featureless. The content isn’t merely generic, it feels absent. In Classic 2D Mario, levels used to be distinct and memorable. Their challenge engaged your mind and made you remember their layouts so you could beat them better when you died. But levels in NSMB2 aren’t memorable in the slightest because the levels have no real challenge. In fact, NSMB2 is the kind of game you can play and beat while watching a film or engaged in a conversation. I for one beat a few worlds while watching the original “The Day The Earth Stood Still” for the first time (good movie). In that regard, NSMB2 feels more like a cheap downloadable game than a full-price Nintendo title.
The bad level design definitely has “amateur developer” stink all over it but the coin-collecting is definitely the villain of this story. What Nintendo have done is replace the challenges with coin-collecting features instead, so taking the direct route through levels is guaranteed boredom. This is where NSMB2 feels like a crappy Modern Nintendo game. It’s the Wario Land vibe that you and others pointed out. I honestly hoped it wouldn’t be true but it is.
Actually, there is one thing in NSMB2 that is actually really good and that’s the Golden Flower power-up because it makes you feel powerful. You see, the fireballs explode when they hit enemies and obstacles, creating a shockwave that kills all nearby enemies. That is a power-up I’d be very happy to see become a 2D Mario staple. It would fit nicely into Super Mario Bros. 3 as a rare super power-up like the Tanooki Suit. Furthermore, it’s not so powerful that it would kill the challenge. If your fireballs don’t hit anything, they don’t explode and you’re still susceptible to enemy attack.
Oh, and one extra point of note. NSMBWii had nine generic-themed worlds but NSMB2 has only got six. The forest world, mountain world and space-themed Star World have been replaced with completely featureless Mushroom, Flower and Star Worlds which are only distinguished by item sprites in the backgrounds of the world maps. Lame.
As a silver lining, I don’t think NSMB2 will kill the 2D Mario brand as you fear it will. The one good thing about the New Super Mario Bros. brand is that it is a clear and distinct symbol to everyone of Nintendo’s “we don’t care” attitude. When people play NSMB2, it is the NSMB brand that will die, not the Classic 2D Mario brand. When Nintendo drops the petulant attitude and releases a proper Super Mario Bros. 5 (I don’t consider NSMBWii to be SMB5), then I think people will take notice of their games again.
When NSMB 2 fails to make 3DS a phenomenon in the United States, I am sure Miyamoto will say, “This goes to show that we should only make 3d Mario for now on! Hahahahaha!”