Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pocket Peek - New Super Mario Bros 2

Pocket Peeks are not reviews intended to share experiences of a full game playthough, but instead are more like running thoughts about games in midstream. So with that in mind, I've finished the first two worlds of New Super Mario Bros. 2 and as I stare at world 3-1, I'm not sure I want to play more.

My love of Mario games has always leaned more toward the 2D ones. For the longest time, Super Mario World was my unmatched favorite. Only recently, with the release of Super Mario 3D Land, has a game even come close to touching it. I've enjoyed a few 3D Mario titles during their time in the sunshine, but only with the return-to-roots New Super Mario Bros. on DS did the series really bring me back into the fold. Despite that game's lack of variety and challenge, it was a great throwback to the original and was just plain fun. Once it was over though, I'd had enough to last me a while. I did, however, pick up New Super Mario Bros. Wii just in case I was wrong, but I wasn't. I didn't need more, especially a multiplayer game.

In New Super Mario Bros. 2, I see less of the appeal that was there with the original DS reboot. This is especially true after playing through the outstanding Super Mario 3D Land, a game that feels like the perfect blend of 2D and 3D Mario. The original NSMB made me feel like I was revisiting my childhood, as the nostalgia factor went a long way toward making it a great experience. Sadly, NSMB2 just feels like more of the same. From the return of the mini-boss rhinos and Koopa Kids to the world structure, it's very by the numbers. This wouldn't be bad if this wasn't the third game to follow this same mold. I have nothing against the retro-style. In fact, it could be used as a springboard for something wonderful, but in the end there is nothing to be excited about here. Coin collection is supposed to be a major focus, but just doesn't have the draw it should. The new golden fireball that transforms enemies into coins feels just as lifeless. Now if this had been a throwback to Super Mario Bros. 3 with its unique bonus areas and progression structure, then that might have been interesting , but instead NSMB2 plays it safe and simply repeats more of what's already been done.

Things may start looking up from here, but the first two worlds offered little to keep me interested. Since it has been years since I played NSMB on DS, I could have been playing the exact same levels and I likely wouldn't have noticed. In two hours of playtime, the only things that caught my eye were the first ghost house and the second world boss. But in the end, even though these were handled well, they still didn't offer enough to draw me in.

One of the main reasons I mentioned 3D Land earlier is because that is a game that hooked me from the very first level. It felt new, fresh, and creative. New Super Mario Bros. 2 feels as far removed from that as possible. Is it a well-made game? Absolutely. But for those seeking something unique and fun, do yourself a favor and pick up Super Mario 3D Land instead. For now, I'll keep at it for a little bit longer to see if my feelings change, but at first glance it didn't leave a good impression.

Disclosure: A digital-download code was provided by Nintendo of America.

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