We store cookies, you can get more info from our privacy policy.

Roundtable Discussion: The Merits (or Lack Thereof) of New Super Mario Bros. 2

by Danny Bivens, Nicholas Bray, James Charlton, J.P. Corbran, Alex Culafi, James Dawson, Mike Gamin, Aaron Kaluszka, Carmine Red, Neal Ronaghan, Scott Thompson, and Guillaume Veillette - August 28, 2012, 5:14 am EDT
Total comments: 15

Despite two official reviews, NWR staffers still have a hard time agreeing on whether the game is great fun, disappointing, or both.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 has turned out to be a bit of a lightning rod amongst the Mario faithful. Early on, perceived similarity to previous Mario titles dampened enthusiasm somewhat. Of course, early builds and previews of the game are rarely indicative of the final product, and as time goes by Nintendo revealed more features and reasons why fans could expect not just a good game, but a great one. However, the game has seen release in all major territories and the debate has not yet died down. And despite not just one, but two official reviews for NSMB2, the Nintendo World Report staff are no exception.

Carmine Red, Contributing Editor

Okay, I haven't played New Super Mario Bros. 2 yet. But lots of you guys have, and listening to everyone is confusing me!

Neal reviewed the game and gave it an 8.5, almost convincing me to purchase it. Then Danny reviewed it and he gave it a 7.5. Then some people downloaded it at the midnight launch and said real nice things about. Then some other people said some not-so-nice things about it.

So is New Super Mario Bros. 2 a bad game? An OK game? A good game? A good "MARIO" game? And why does it matter so much to so many of us?

J.P. Corbran, Community Manager

By Mario standards it's relatively weak; Super Mario 3D Land blows it away in most respects. But by normal gaming standards, this is a really fun game, and I'm enjoying my time with it quite a bit. I can see why some people have issues with it, and the visual style is yet again very generic and uninspired, but the game has tight, responsive controls and good level design, as well as a high score mechanic that seems perfectly suited to get its hooks into me. I like this game a lot.

Neal Ronaghan, Director

I've never really understood all of the side-scrolling Mario critique. With the exception of the original New Super Mario Bros., which I still played to completion, I've thoroughly enjoyed every 2D Mario game. New Super Mario Bros. 2 was no different. It honestly surprised me with its solid, fun level design and multitude of hidden secrets. I go into full detail in my review, but really, I'm not disappointed in the least with this game. It has its flaws, and I totally understand most complaints regarding it, but I wanted a fun game out of this title, and that is exactly what I got. It isn't on the same level as Super Mario 3D Land. It's not as bold or innovative as earlier side-scrolling Mario games. To me, though, it doesn't need to be. I don't expect it to do that. I'm fine being in a world where 3D Land, Galaxy, and the NSMB series can all exist.

Carmine Red, Contributing Editor

But both of you have just said that it doesn't live up to the standards of Super Mario 3D Land. How far does it fall short? Very far? I mean, Danny's review of 7.5 is pretty darn low for a first-party Nintendo mainstream Mario game, on NWR we have to go back all the way to 2001 to find a Mario platformer get reviewed with a score as low or lower than that!

Neal Ronaghan, Director

About a point. (I gave 3D Land a 9.5 and NSMB2 an 8.5). :P

Carmine Red, Contributing Editor

:P to you too Mr. Site Director! Well, would anyone agree that it's fair to describe NSMB2 as the SECOND-worst reviewed Mario platformer on NWR right now? The worst reviewed Mario platformer game on the site that I can find is Super Mario Advance for the GBA, a port of the NES Super Mario Bros. 2, itself a bit of a black sheep amongst the clan of Mario games. Or to put it another way, if NSMB2 is bad, is it SMB2 bad?

Alexander Culafi, Contributing Writer

I prefer Super Mario Bros. 2 vastly to New Super Mario Bros. 2, mostly because the former carries challenge and feels like a fresh game. New Super Mario Bros. 2 is about as close to a rehash as a game can ever get (and this is coming from someone who believes that rehashes don't exist in video games). The level design is not impressive to say the least, the game is much shorter than other entries in the series, most of the new stuff is inconsequential in my eyes, and the coin mechanic doesn't feel like the big game-changer Nintendo makes it out to be.

In my mind, you can't toss a new gameplay mode and a new metagame and call it a sequel. No fan has ever called Super Mario Bros. 2 (well, the North American one), Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario World a rehash. This is because, despite the same requirements to make it to the goal, every game was bursting with creative level design, new ways to experience what we've established as a "Mario" game, and some clever challenges testing the most weathered of veterans.

In my mind, New Super Mario Bros. 2 has no such improvements.

James Dawson, Staff Writer

I think if we lived in a vacuum where the first two New Super Mario Bros. games didn't exist, this game wouldn't have received any where near the amount of flack that it has. As it stands though, the only problem the game has is that it's not exactly "new." But that shouldn't distract from the game, seeing that what it does reuse is incredibly polished and fun. Not to mention it has great level design and the coin quirk is also great fun.

Neal Ronaghan, Director

Could NSMB2 be easier simply because you have more experience with the genre?

And what would you say about the concept of sequels in the majority of modern video games? If we're on that subject, then tossing a new gameplay mode and a new metagame might be ambitious for some of the annualized series!

I feel like NSMB2 is more a victim of the dedicated gaming populace growing up and not being wowed by 2D Mario games. As I said in an earlier editorial, NSMB2 has to contend with much more than the original NSMB ever had to deal with. There are platformers all over the indie scene. The Wii U will launch with not one but two high-profile and quality platformers (Rayman Legends and New Super Mario Bros. U) and most of Nintendo's major releases on Wii since 2009 have been platformers.

J.P. Corbran, Community Manager

I don't know how you could say this game doesn't do anything new; the Coin Rush mode is most certainly a way of playing Mario that we haven't seen before. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but it completely changes the goal of the game, and the pressure of grabbing every coin you can while also racing the clock and knowing you have to do the whole thing in one life definitely provides a challenge. It's just a shame that people outside of Japan will likely never experience its full potential, due to it being limited to StreetPass without any kind of online leaderboards.

Guillaume Veilette, Podcast Editor

Haven't played the game yet.

That said, I don't buy at all into the idea that new Mario games today feel easier just because we're better at them. I played through every Mario game from SMB3 on basically as they came out, but I went back to play through SMB and SMB2 (US) only recently, and they're really, really hard, to me. My experience with the later games seems to mean little.

Neal Ronaghan, Director

I would still argue that games such as Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World being more difficult than modern Mario have to do more with the plentiful lives of newer games than any major differences in challenge. Though NSMB2 does have the Assist Block, which to me is a good thing, and other helpful additions.

J.P. Corbran, Community Manager

Playing this game doesn't feel any easier to me than going back and playing SMB3. Maybe that's because I've beaten that game dozens of times and this is my first time through this, but I can definitely buy that there's a certain amount of built up skill for the Mario series that transfers to the new games.

Neal Ronaghan, Director

I'd also say some stuff like the original Super Mario Bros. is just challenging, and in all honesty, I don't know if I want that in every game. It's like how some people love the original Legend of Zelda because of the exploration required, but in modern gaming, that lack of direction would be despised.

Alexander Culafi, Contributing Writer

I would argue that New Super Mario Bros. 2 would not exist if it weren't for the first two entries, especially because of how heavily it relies on what the first two games established. And yes, I would argue that this should detract from the experience, because while I would even disagree with your statements on the quality of the level design, I think most of the enjoyment derived from the first two for me was how fresh and new everything felt (even on the Wii). Without that, it's far less fun to experience what is just a Mario game that is much easier (yes, I replayed the first earlier this year), with markedly worse level design, and a final boss that is so un-creative that it hurts.

And Neal, while that is a possibility, it's pretty easy to tell that the difficulty has been reduced. The levels are much shorter, Star Coins are almost entirely in plain sight, and obstacles are less challenging for the most part (example: the falling magma rocks, a staple in the final world of New Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. Wii seem to come down less frequently, less invasively, and offer more cover).

And just because other games do it doesn't make it right. I've always held Nintendo at a higher standard with its sequels than this, and it's really sad to see a game that should be "New" to really not be at all.

Working in Corbran's point, I disagree on Coin Rush. It's a new way to play New Super Mario Bros. 2, but what you're playing is still New Super Mario Bros. 2, and playing the levels faster with a heavy emphasis on coins has not changed that for me as of yet.

Neal Ronaghan, Director

I don't think Coin Rush has as long of legs as Nintendo hopes it will, especially in North America and Europe.

I don't think the Star Coin placement is wholly different from the first two "New" games. Honestly, I thought some of the placements were very clever, even if some are in wide open spaces (still don't think that's much different from other "New" games). At least there aren't any more stupid "look this wall isn't real! Oh snap! It's a Star Coin, y'all!" areas.

Ironically, New Super Mario Bros. on DS gave me the feeling that most are getting from NSMB2. Though, I do recall the bosses in the original being way better.

Bottom line is that I spent 15 hours with this game, leisurely going through beating all the levels and snagging all the Star Coins. I dabbled a bit in Coin Rush. I doubt I'll touch it much more, but any game I spent 15 enjoyable hours with can't be that bad (at least to me). Regardless of how others feel about the level design and the rest, I really dug the level design, the combination of power-ups, and just the game in general. Raccoon Mario and Fire Flower Mario might be played out, but at least they're better than that damn Koopa Shell power-up that was hard to control and not much fun to use.

J.P. Corbran, Community Manager

I don't see how you can be fine with the DS and Wii games and consider them good but think this is awful. The problems with this game were there in both of the previous titles. I'm with Neal, if we're singling out one of them for weak level design and for being too easy, it's definitely the DS game.

Alexander Culafi, Contributing Writer

New Super Mario Bros. shares similar design with its sequels, but you need to remember that New Super Mario Bros. was a new, fully-developed game from the ground up. That doesn't necessarily mean its problems are excused, but it does mean that it has a level of freshness and excitement the second will never carry for me. If the original is being designed, it sets the standard, and provides an experience none of us have had before. New Super Mario Bros. 2 is just more of the same with a new metagame to make it seem incredibly different (which I don't think it is).

If we did treat NSMB2 as if it was entirely original (which I would never do), and compare it to the original, the sequel still falls flat on its face. Once again, the levels are significantly longer, much more varied, had more original power-ups, and the bosses were unique, varied, and fun (hell, even finding exploits in those bosses was really fun). Yes, the final boss was a little light on excitement, but it was the first original 2D Mario game since 1995. The physics are a bit worse in the original one, but I was appreciative of having different Mario physics (and I even kind of liked how loose those controls were).

In the sequel, the physics are only slightly improved, the bosses are the same as the previous entry (having different fights for each isn't enough for me), there is one new power-up (technically 2, but not really), the final boss is expected, anticlimactic, and ends before it could get challenging, and the levels could have easily fit in New Super Mario Bros. Wii (albeit without the gold stuff).

Neal Ronaghan, Director

I honestly couldn't disagree more about the first NSMB. I think that is remembered fondly only because it was the first new Mario platformer in 10 years.

I understand most people's disappointment in NSMB2. I think I played a different game than Alex, though.

J.P. Corbran, Community Manager

Calling New Super Mario Bros. "original" is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. It wasn't the first game in a series; it was an iteration on an established formula, just like all the other 2D Marios since the first one. It had more original power-ups, but they were all terrible apart from the mini mushroom; when I accidentally got the Koopa Shell power-up I would intentionally run into an enemy to get rid of it. That game is far more guilty of the criticisms you've leveled than this one, and you're just giving it a pass because it was the first 2D Mario in 15 years.

Danny Bivens, Japan Correspondent

Having finally just played through New Super Mario Bros. Wii recently, I am really disappointed looking back to New Super Mario Bros. 2 on the 3DS and seeing how much of the same elements, enemies, and level themes were recycled. It's uncanny!

My biggest gripe with NSMB2 is that it lacks personality. Some could say that the whole coin gimmick sets it apart from other NSMB games, but to me, that wasn't enough. Looking at the older Mario platforming titles, both 2D and 3D, there was always some kind of distinctive theme that each game carried. New Super Mario Bros. 2 has great level design, tight controls, and offers an improvement on power-ups (the Super Leaf trounces the Propeller Mushroom). Maybe the reason why game assets and music were reused was because the main team is off working on New Super Mario Bros. U, which might have put barriers on the team, forcing them to work within the already created confines of the series. Regardless of why, more could, and should, have been done with the visual and music aesthetic.

James Charlton, Japan Correspondent

I agree with Danny completely RE: the main game, but I have another point to make.

The coin collecting idea cannot be argued as a new exciting feature, it is clearly a bolted-on at the last moment type idea, and it shows. "Congratulations you've collected 100,000 coins!" cries the game. Yes, and...that means what exactly? Nothing. I imagined a special world with a tall golden tower, coins piling everywhere, the more you collect the more it pushes you up the tower, unlocking new things at each 100k milestone. Gah. Turns out I have more imagination than anyone working at Nintendo then.

The coin rush mode is neat, but it doesn't even need the 1 million MacGuffin to work, it could easily just be "you beat these levels in X time with X coins" which would have been an amazing feature coupled with friends list leaderboards.

I think they developed the features in the wrong order, after making Worlds 1-9, they made the 1 million coin idea to make the coin rush work, which meant it could function WITHOUT leaderboards (as you're just challenging yourself).  StreetPass mode is good, but again was probably thrown in last minute to substitute online. Hands up whose got StreetPasses?  Exactly - a completely wasted feature for those outside of Japan.

After re-watching the trailer, I'm looking forward to NSMBU more as it does look dramatically different enough and I can't shake those Mario World vibes it gives me, which is a very good thing in my eyes!

Carmine Red, Contributing Editor

No wait, seriously guys, let's go back to something James Dawson said: "I think if we lived in a vacuum where the first two New Super Mario Bros. games didn't exist, this game wouldn't have received any where near the amount of flack that it has."

Are we saying that this game isn't as fun BECAUSE other Mario games have done the same thing? Is this a situation where the previous title, by mere virtue of just being "first," simply feels like the better game?

James Dawson, Staff Writer

For me, it's not that NSMB2 is worse than it's predecessors, indeed I think most of us perfer it to the first game, and whose to  say whether it's better than NSMBWii, but that it feels to similar to the previous titles without introducing anything remarkable.

That said, I think NSMB2 is a damn good game, regardless of how generic it is. If possible, imagine that this game is simply a map pack for the NSMB series. Is it really a bad thing that we get a rehashed, but fun 2D Mario every couple of years?

Aaron Kaluszka, IT Managing Editor

In some ways, New Super Mario Bros. 2 shares similarities with the original Super Mario Bros. 2 -- the Japanese one. Miyamoto actually had little to do with that game, and it was essentially a level pack for Super Mario Bros. Likewise, the NSMB2 is made by a newbie crew trying to mimic previous games.

I wonder whether Mario cram school only covered game design and not sound and graphics, and that's part of the reason for the lack of originality. The New Super Mario Bros. series has always been weak on music, where the first one had many soundalike tracks from the old games, and it's been mostly rehashes since, but this one's sound is really inexcusable.

I appreciate the fact that NSMB2 adds the coin component; even with the solid level design, it would have felt more stale without it. I wish they had a better thought-out StreetPass system and leaderboards though. That said, the game is good and without a doubt far superior to the first NSMB. NSMB took a big step back in resetting to pre-SMB3 designs, so I'm glad that components of the first four games are now integrated.

Rather than "phoning it in," what I'd rather see for the 2D Mario series is larger experiments with the design with multiple "level pack" releases more frequently. On the other hand, at least they are able to keep the core mechanics intact, unlike what happened with the Sonic games.

Alexander Culafi, Contributing Writer

To simplify what I said above, the reason that I hate New Super Mario Bros. 2 is that there is nothing to be excited about. Yes, Corbran, Mario jumps on the flagpole in the original NSMB, but with that is an entirely new aesthetic, new bosses, new types of challenges inside of levels, new power-ups, and new physics. And yes, in a few of these aspects, its direct sequel comes out on top (notably in the physics department). But they don't take any risks with the new game. They add a new goal which doesn't even matter (and cuts the difficulty in half), they add a new mode that is fun, but just expands upon the game slightly, and what we're left with is a full-priced level pack, with levels that aren't nearly as long or fun as the original.

I don't feel anger at the game itself, but I'm horribly disappointed in Nintendo for thinking that this was okay to release. Then again, they are a business before a video game company.

Neal Ronaghan, Director

Lives haven't mattered in a Mario game since like 1994 (if part of your issue with the difficulty is the overabundance of lives).

Having even played parts of NSMB within the last year, I still don't really comprehend people saying the first one is better than the second one in any way, shape, or form (outside of the bosses, which are way better in the first one). However, I'd say that the Wii version trumps both of them, even if only for the multiplayer.

I still come back to how satisfied I am with NSMB2. I don't spend 15 hours with many games these days, and on my 3DS, I've only played Kid Icarus: Uprising, Ocarina of Time 3D, Super Mario 3D Land, and Theatrhythm more. You might hate it or be disappointed with it, Alex. That's alright; it's your opinion. But for me? This game is fine and I don't have too many complaints. I'd love to see a different graphical aesthetic, but that wouldn't change the content of the game, and I'm totally happy with the content in this game.

Scott Thompson, Podcast Editor

To jump in here, the most noticeable issue with the game, in my opinion, is that it seems to be put together piecemeal. It's like a few different departments were individually coming up with ideas and then it was all smashed together. I enjoy collecting coins, but why the hell isn't it tied into the story in any way? I don't use the term "lazy" when describing game developers (I can't even begin to understand the work and time that goes into creating a game), but, upon beginning the game, having a box simply pop up and say "hey, collect lots of coins, ok?" is totally lazy. I mean, gold is plastered all over the case and yet there is no mention of why the hell Mario is trying to stuff his pockets with coins.

Then there's the co-op mode, which we already know was an afterthought thanks to the Iwata Asks about NSMB2. I'm not sure how many of you have played it, but it's totally borked. Where sharing a screen worked great in NSMBW because the view would zoom out and shift to allow all players plenty of room to run around, NSMB2 stays in tight and focuses on only one player, relegating the other player to what I like to call "Tails status." This restriction, which is baffling when considering that between two players you have a total of FOUR SCREENS that could be used to let Mario and Luigi split up, sucks all the fun out of playing the game, as the two plumbers fumble around clumsily, knocking each other into pits and constantly apologizing. My girlfriend, with whom I've played NSMBW, Rayman, both Kirby games, and Donkey Kong Country Returns with, turned to me after one of our more botched run-throughs of a level and said "I don't like playing this together." I was right there with her.

The level design is inventive, and running around as Mario feels, as always, great. But I can't shake the image of someone at Nintendo pulling a lever on a slot machine, which then matched a collection of levels with a co-op mode and a coin-collecting mechanic. Out popped New Super Mario Bros. 2, a disjointed chimera of a game that is flawed in many ways but still remains mostly fun, as long as you are playing alone.

Neal Ronaghan, Director

I feel like I had the benefit of not playing the two-player. I think the game stands fine on its own, but ever since they detailed it at E3, that multiplayer looked awful. It stands out as even worse when you compare it to NSMBWii and even the original on DS.

Mike Gamin, Contributing Editor

I think a lot of the distaste for this game comes directly from Nintendo's archaic infrastructure. Not to bring up this long argued issue, but it's obvious to me that the developers didn't have the tools necessary to do the things that are "so obvious" to us. As others have said, the co-op mode is a prime example of this. The Iwata asks shows that the reason why it wouldn't fit in the budget/timeframe is because they'd have to essentially make it from scratch. This is a huge problem. Other platform holders have effective tools in the dev kits to implement this sort of online play quickly and Nintendo does not. It's sad and that's why it feels so backwards to the players.

An even worse example of this is the coin rush mode and general coin mentality of the game. I think this has the potential to be one to the most exciting innovations to come out of the Mario games in years. I love giving coins a real purpose. I love getting the golden flower and spending extra time getting every possible coin. It's super gratifying. The problem again is lack of easy to use online tools for the developers. Others have mentioned online leaderboards and coin rush exchanges, but it should be taken even further. We should be able to make clans and have leaderboards ranking clans by net worth. They should do global statistics for all players and rank them by nation. The US could compete with Japan to have the highest Mario Coin GDP. These are the kinds of things that would make us all love going for coins long term. These are also the kinds of things that indie devs are leveraging in platforms like iOS by using the leaderboard features provided by companies like Apple. Nintendo needs to actually invest in this sort of universal platform so implementing these features in games truly can become trivial for developers. I'm just not sure that will ever happen. New Super Mario Bros. 2 feels stale because other platforms have taught us to expect more.

J.P. Corbran, Community Manager

I think we're all in agreement that the coin mechanic could have been a lot more fleshed out than it is, but I think it still adds to the game in its current state. I'd really love to have the leaderboards in place, or some of the other things you mentioned, but I'm still having a lot of fun with the coin angle as is.

Mike Gamin, Contributing Editor

I totally am too. I'm beyond letting Nintendo's lack of online bother me. It's just sometimes important to bring it up again. :)

Alexander Culafi, Contributing Writer

The rehashed mini-games from Super Mario 64 DS were much more fun to me in New Super Mario Bros. than both of the secondary modes in New Super Mario Bros. 2. The presence of co-op is nice, but from the hour of it I played with my sister earlier today, it's easy to tell that the "leader" mechanic is so phoned in.

J.P. Corbran, Community Manager

To be fair, those minigames were pretty good. Speaking of online leaderboards, we need some for those too.

Nicholas Bray, Australia Correspondent

I don't have NSMB2 and at the moment and I do not intend to buy the game. Some of my reasoning is that I feel that the 'New' aesthetic is really starting to grate on me, I feel that the look etc was fine on the DS one and even didn't mind it too much on the Wii version. However, continuing to basically release new games with virtually the same art assets is absolutely terrible, I feel we are starting to lean closer and closer to Castlevania in terms of re-purposed assets. Another reason why I am currently skipping this entry is that I want the Wii U title to feel as fresh as possible for me at launch.

Aaron Kaluszka, IT Managing Editor

I agree that development priorities seem to be skewed. The modes seem tacked on and not fully fleshed out. Going by Iwata Asks, it sounds lucky that we got them at all since the game was designed backwards from usual, focusing on level designs first, and we have to credit the devs for pushing for them. Unfortunately, you'd think that the level design would not have taken significant resources and they would have had more time to work on the other features -- homebrew coders have made highly functional level editors, so i'd hope Nintendo has something at least on-par. Instead, it seems like some of the key features, even touted features were added on after the fact and barely made the cut, possibly because of inexperience. The devs didn't even want to implement multiplayer because its a hard problem to do right.

The fact that Nintendo is even willing to admit their resource-constrained development process publicly hints that they might not even see this problem. There's the ever-present problem of Nintendo's not-invented-here syndrome, and part of it is that Nintendo still doesn't seem to realize how poorly StreetPass works in practice outside of Japan. Now that we have Nintendo's veterans trying to distill game design but with the new class constrained by 30 years of history, there's bound to be things that are lost and rebuilt in an ever-moving industry. It's interesting but painful from an outside perspective because we've seen the series evolve from the beginning. We expect Mario to lead the way in innovation as it generally has.

Thanks to its central focus, the one thing that is a success is the level design. It's not particularly inventive (e.g. they highlighted the convention-breaking Boohemoth as a key design triumph), but it's engaging enough. That's the most important thing for a 2D Mario game, though just achieving that may not be enough for me to buy the game at full price in the future.

It's important to note that Nintendo still has the chance to rectify some of these problems, not with the core game, but at least some of the additional modes. We don't know exactly what they have planned for download content because they themselves hadn't settled on it as of the Iwata Asks interview. If Nintendo is open to the idea of more substantial additions through add-on content, that's already a big step for Nintendo.

I also want to refute the notion that the levels are short. People tend to forget how short the levels were on the NES games. Worlds seemed bigger back then; everything was new (and slower). Even if the levels in NSMB2 are shorter than the original, they're a lot more fun.

One of the fundamental decisions with the New series, according to Tezuka is that they're intentionally made similar so that they don't scare away players. But I'm afraid that because of the New series, Nintendo won't experiment with other 2D platform styles. If we look at the Kirby's Return to Dreamland, they had all sorts of fantastic-looking experiments in development, but then ended up settling on a stale, plastic presentation. New Super Mario Bros. is looked at by Nintendo like Mario Kart. They're gateway games, so things have to be safe. But we want to see the franchises grow. The addition of Super Guide and increased difficulty was a partial solution, but we need something deeper, the visceral experience should be improved.


Pixelated PixiesAugust 28, 2012

Great feature guys. I really enjoyed reading all your opinions.

I'd just like to say, thank goodness Charlton, Culafi & Bivens were there. Otherwise my post would had to have been three paragraphs long. Luckily those guys covered much of my argument for me.

I ended up putting over 20 hours into NSMB 2, so as Neal says, it is a fun game. It is, however, also one of the weakest and least interesting games in a series which has been historically stellar.

purevalAugust 28, 2012

I picked up NSMB2 on sale at work and I am enjoying it greatly so far (granted I am still in the first world). Part of that might be that I have never really played a New Super Mario game before. I never played the first one at all and was trying to play through the Wii one with my wife, but a minor accident involving throwing her character down a pit ended that pretty quickly.

I do not really see where all the hatred toward the game is coming from, but that could be because the series is truly "New" to me.

Pixelated PixiesAugust 28, 2012

Quote from: pureval

I do not really see where all the hatred toward the game is coming from, but that could be because the series is truly "New" to me.

I Just thought I'd drop in to nip a potential issue in the bud. From the opinions I've seen expressed, at least on the NWR forums, hardly anyone has hated on NSMB 2. Let's just make the worthwhile distinction between criticism and hatred. Many people have been critical of the game, very few people have hated it.

Hope you enjoy the rest of the game man.  :)

First, as on old fogey I liked this sort of feature under its original distinction of "Blah Blah Blah"... "Roundtable Discussion" is just too prim and proper. Let it all fly!

Anyway, while I would agree that the lack of online leader boards is just plain stupid (can always hope they incorporate it into the DLC) for Coin Rush, to imply that the game is just more of the same is absolutely nuts. Coin Rush and all of the elements and enhancements in the title tied to that are the backbone of the game and the coin obsession dominates its purpose.

I thought Mario 3DS was absolute brilliance and a better game but then again I didn't find myself doing anything in it past collecting all of the special coins, finding the secrets, and completing everything. With NSMB 2 I've only completed Worlds 1 and 2, am in the process of working on the first Mushsroom World, but I'm seeing a fair amount of my time sucked into the Mushroom Class Coin Rush. It is an OCD Gamer's dream, finding every hidden trick, honing every technique, perfecting your route, maximizing your run and air time when you have the coin block on your head... and to score you need to push all of this through 3 entire levels, never making a misstep. It is freaking crack and I love it!

Really I'm hoping this becomes a side mode in every Mario game somehow, even if there are only a few level variants since I know the coin collection angle drives the layout of the levels themselves. For the first time though HOW you complete the level matters. Score never worked, I've always been able to have ample lives, the special coins and secrets are fun but just a matter of discovery. Coin Rush is taking everything you know and forcing you to execute.

So back to the problem. Yeah, no on-line sharing between your friends at a minimum let alone the general gaming community is a travesty and I pray they correct this with the DLC since it would then also be an excellent selling point for it. It is one thing to push yourself, knowing you could have eked out a few more coins, it is another to be compelled to show that cocky bastard how it is done. Even better, create a Ghost Mode so you can see the techniques other people use (if you can keep up). They have it all for Mario Kart, it seems ridiculous not to give this mode its full due.

So yeah, despite its shortcomings I can't see giving the game below an 8, and that would be docking an entire point just for it lacking friend/leader board support for spite. Calling it more of the same really would take missing out on the focus on the coins and for the first time I really see Mario as a viable competitive game. My first time through I thought I'd done well with 2500 coins, but then trashed that with my next record of 4320, but now I'm at a full-blown 8106 and I know I can do better. So many runs with so much potential ruined by a misstep into the lava, so many runs re-started because I missed a jump or didn't quite execute a section as well as I could. Even after I beat the game for the first time I have a reason to return to a Mario game anyway outside of nostalgia and that is a game changer for the series.

Pixelated PixiesAugust 28, 2012

Quote from: Justin

Anyway, while I would agree that the lack of online leader boards is just plain stupid (can always hope they incorporate it into the DLC) for Coin Rush, to imply that the game is just more of the same is absolutely nuts. Coin Rush and all of the elements and enhancements in the title tied to that are the backbone of the game and the coin obsession dominates its purpose.

I have to say, I do find it amusing how split opinions on this game have become. I would argue that to imply that this game is anything other than 'more of the same' would be nuts. I guess it comes down to how much emphasis you want to put on Coin Rush mode. Personally, I don't find Coin Rush mode to be all that enjoyable and found the focus on coin collecting generally to be superfluous. To me it feels like they took an enjoyable but very derivative Mario game and filled it with coins. The coin collecting feels like an after thought (some might even suggest that the game's focus on collecting coins was simply a marketing contrivance). Clearly some people are getting a kick out of Coin Rush. I just don't see the appeal.

While people may or may not enjoy it I think it is an idea in the right direction, given the way games are made and played, particularly with the rise of tablets. While you could conceivably play a single Mario level for a few minutes and put it down traditional Mario games aren't what I'd consider "pick up for a few minutes" games. For the most part I'll play levels if I know I have a while to explore, look for secrets, try to find the hidden exits, etc.

With a job/kids/house and all manner of distractions I find I have more cases where I know all I have is maybe 10 to 15 minutes to play. To me this is the space Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Bejeweled Blitz, Trials, and all sorts of games have found their market. Of particular note is a game like Bejeweled Blitz, taking a pretty simple game and putting a time limit on it to promote quick competition with friends or others. Mix that with Trials, with its brutal need for execution and I think I see Coin Rush fitting very well into this space, though perhaps with 3 levels it is a bit longer than what I'd consider normal.

This is why the lack of ability to share these scores beyond Street Pass is just mind-boggling. This same concept is one of the things I hope Nintendo doesn't miss an opportunity with when they get the Wii U out there as well. Foster competition in people where there is opportunity. Not everyone gets it or likes it but it is a legitimate type of game and an evolution of sorts for Mario since I never would have thought of Mario in that space. So maybe the problem is one of marketing and intent. By putting the NSMB label on it you're setting up an expectation, and perhaps in that traditional regard it is more of the same. I think they're on to something though, and perhaps the goal in the future would be to break off this sort of game into being its own variant, perhaps being more clear and making everyone more happy.

Pixelated PixiesAugust 28, 2012

@Justin Nation

Well put.

For some reason the second half of our roundtable wasn't there when I posted this...

I've fixed that now, so if you've read through our discussion, read it again! We actually argued for TWICE as long!

Pixelated PixiesAugust 28, 2012

Disregard my first comment. I guess I am going to write a wall of text after all. Please indulge me.

I would just like to pull out a few comments from the roundtable in order to make a point I think is worth making. I'm not really arguing with the people who made the comments. It's just that these were the statements that got me thinking.

J.P. Corbran
"Calling New Super Mario Bros. "original" is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. It wasn't the first game in a series; it was an iteration on an established formula, just like all the other 2D Marios since the first one. It had more original power-ups, but they were all terrible apart from the mini mushroom; when I accidentally got the Koopa Shell power-up I would intentionally run into an enemy to get rid of it. That game is far more guilty of the criticisms you've leveled than this one, and you're just giving it a pass because it was the first 2D Mario in 15 years."

Carmine Red
"No wait, seriously guys, let's go back to something James Dawson said: "I think if we lived in a vacuum where the first two New Super Mario Bros. games didn't exist, this game wouldn't have received any where near the amount of flack that it has."
Are we saying that this game isn't as fun BECAUSE other Mario games have done the same thing? Is this a situation where the previous title, by mere virtue of just being "first," simply feels like the better game?"

The point worth making, for me, is that we don't live in a vacuum. Our impressions of books, films, games are all shaped by our experience of the medium. The 2006 Me was excited for and enjoyed New Super Mario Bros in a way that 2012 Me could not enjoy New Super Mario Bros. 2. That's not, as J.P. suggests, a result of me giving NSMB a pass because it was the first 2D Mario in years, and neither is it, as Carmine suggests, me giving more credit to NSMB merely because it was released first. That's me looking at things in their context. That's me saying that NSMB was a more successfully made handheld Mario game in 2006 than NSMB 2 is in 2012.

My impressions of these two games were shaped by the time and environment in which I played them, and in the case of NSMB 2 the games I played since the original. I would never argue that New Super Mario Bros. was as delightful as Bros. 3 or as innovative as 64, but in 2006 it had a style which I found refreshing and gameplay which felt like a throwback while also feeling novel. I cannot say the same for NSMB 2.

Some would no doubt argue that I should look at both games objectively. That in order to compare them I would need to look at them independent of their context. That seems to be the argument of some of those people who are less critical of NSMB 2. Their argument being that NSMB 2 is better designed than the first game in the series and is therefore more enjoyable.

That's when I came to the following realisation. I can see myself being convinced that in purely mechanical terms NSMB 2 improves upon it's precursor, but that merely makes it a better made game from a technical standpoint, and not from the perspective of being more worthwhile or enjoyable. NSMB will always have the fact that I considered it to be a great little game in 2006 to put in the + column, and that it felt like care and attention had been put into crafting it. I don't think  same could necessarily be said of NSMB 2 in 2012. Indeed, the fact that NSMB 2 only marginally improves upon a game, which was designed for inferior hardware and released 6 years prior, suggests that in terms of effort and thought expended, NSMB 2 is inferior to NSMB.

If I were to play boths games one after the other, I would not be surprised to find NSMB 2 to be the better designed game. For me, however, that doesn't change the fact that NSMB 2 feels like a lazier effort. Ultimately, that's why I can say something like the following statement without it being contradictory. NSMB 2 is a better game than the original, but the original was more worthwhile and more deserving of appreciation.

Quote from: Pixelated

Disregard my first comment. I guess I am going to write a wall of text after all. Please indulge me.

This forum was built on walls of text P2! Fire away!

Quote from: Pixelated

Ultimately, that's why I can say something like the following statement without it being contradictory. NSMB 2 is a better game than the original, but the original was more worthwhile and more worthy of appreciation.

I haven't played this game yet, and in fact never may. (I appear to be skipping the handheld NSMB games in favor of the console versions) However, I feel like I'd end up trying to thread the needle to end up with a conclusion somewhat akin to yours.

famicomplicatedJames Charlton, Associate Editor (Japan)August 28, 2012

For those wondering this was the article I mentioned in Famicast 15 during our "let's dump on NSMB2" segment  :P:

So apparently there's a cap on the max coin rush score that you can obtain. Really? Way to break the mode even more.

TJ SpykeAugust 29, 2012

The cap sounds pretty large though (I don't have the game yet): 30,000 coins.

It's not that large if lots of people have hit it already. It fundamentally breaks the mode for good players.

famicomplicatedJames Charlton, Associate Editor (Japan)August 29, 2012

Quote from: MegaByte

It's not that large if lots of people have hit it already. It fundamentally breaks the mode for good players.

This statement is spot on, because even if you do find ways to spam certain parts of the levels (which is the only way to get 30,000 by the way) the timer is still ticking and if you make a mistake/die, miss the top of the flagpole or get harder stages near the end it can mess it up - spamming accurately takes skill.

So even without the limit, you might only be able to get 45,000 coins, so it's really Nintendo just admitting they didn't have enough time to playtest the game fully and just stuck the limit on arbitrarily just to "make sure folks don't get to the million too fast, too easily if they find some easy cheats that we haven't found out about"

Got a news tip? Send it in!