Lolocaust One Hour (5000 Coin) Play-Test: New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS)

I spent the nineties entrenched in the console wars, fighting the good fight under the Blue Banner of Sega. I loathed Nintendo. I drew pictures of Mario eviscerated by various Sega stalwarts armed with an assortment of garden tools. I punched a kid in the head because he said that the Gameboy was better than the Game Gear. I did my part, but over the years it’s been suggested that much like our friends in other previously war-torn areas, we can all get along nicely together. So, begrudgingly I’ve been slowly getting into some of the Nintendo franchises, and one that did a lot for me was New Super Mario Bros. on the DS. It’s retro charm and simple, rounded 2.5D visuals made the game for me, only to have it all destroyed by the woeful New Super Mario Bros. Wii. So how will the official numbered sequel do when I stick it in my 3DS? Only one way to find out, and it isn’t by way of a fight. 

The 3DS is an odd beast. I’ve stated my love for the device many times, but it’s a tricky sell with such a limited software library. This title has been a long time coming and for me, was more desirable than 3D Land that launched earlier this year. Coming alongside the launch of the 3DS XL (yet oddly not offered as a bundle in any officiall SKU form at least) was a good move, as was releasing it during the summer break. When I got my hands on the game the first thing I noticed was the yellow game case. I don’t like yellow. New Super Mario Bros. 2 has a FUCK TON of yellow in it.

I learned to live with it pretty damn quickly though.

The core concept of NSMB2 is that Peach is kidnapped by the Koopalings – Larry Koopa, Morton Koopa Jr., Wendy O. Koopa, Iggy Koopa, Roy Koopa, Lemmy Koopa and Ludwig von Koopa – and dragged off down the map just like in NSMB1. Like EXACTLY the same. The maps are near identical, Star Coins are still required to access areas and mushroom houses and there are two ‘boss’ levels per zone. It’s essentially the same game, but with one major overhaul.

Coins.

A Lot of Coins.

More Coins than Scrooge McDuck has in his vault.

More Coins than the McCanns Got For Being Terrible Parent.

LOADS OF COINS!

Each level is chocked full of coins, bonus coins, power ups that generate coins, power ups that make enemies generate coins AND coins.

LOADS AND LOADS OF COINS!

You have to complete the game as normal, but the game challenges you, as the player, to collect ONE MILLION COINS!

LOADS AND LOADS AND LOADS OF COINS!

Your ‘bank’ is topped up after each level and using Streetpass you can send your total to strangers and friends to form some perverse bragging right. It may seem like I don’t like the concept, that I’m still on the negative side of things since NSMBWii ruined the series for me somewhat, but that would be the wrong assumption.

I LOVE THIS GAME!

The original NSMB didn’t require much in the way of changes and this game sets out to not reinvent the wheel, but to add some extras.

A bit like digital spokey dokeys.

Remember them?

The coin chase idea works well, and has definitely ensured that I am more than happy to return to an earlier level, even after collecting the three star Coins. I hit 5,000 collected coins this morning and actually thought of it as an achievement to be proud of. Only another 995,000 to go then, and I have no doubt that I’ll hit that target. Well, there is one stumbling block, and it isn’t Piranha Plant related.

The game costs £39.99 at retail (well, the RRP is that amount) AND is also going to cost £39.99 digitally from the 3DS eStore.

Yup, overpriced RRP at retail, and SUPER overpriced in the eStore.

I liked the idea of downloading the full game via the eStore distribution channel, and was 90% convinced that I would take advantage of the service. I mean hell, I have a large memory card just sitting there and having a selection of games on the device without having to cart around carts was tempting. But no, instead we are being crucified for the privilege of not owning ANYTHING for the money.

No handheld game, regardless of franchise, should sell for that price point. Not even Mario. Not even with LOADS OF COINS!

The 3DS *could* have had a system seller on it’s hands with a decent price point, but instead it now sits squarely in camp of ‘systems that make Apple/Android devices more appealing’. Right now I could buy fifty games for my iPad, along with a series of freebies. They would then feasibly supported with free updates and content. I love the 3DS, just as I love the Vita, but a lot of these newer games offer little that can better what is available for a fraction of the cost elsewhere.

What makes this even more disappointing is that NSMB2 is a GREAT game. Perfectly balanced with a difficult curve that is pitched splendidly. New power-ups work well, especially the Coin Block Head that gives you coins for moving around, increasing the amount as you run faster. The tanooki suit is back where it belongs and despite the existence of the ‘Super Support Power-Up’ that appears when you die too many times on a stage, just to help you along, wasn’t as forced as it appeared to be in SM3DL. There is a solid co-op mode, although I’ve not spent much time on it yet – mostly as I fear it will result in a NSMBWii experience, which I hated purely because of that co-op that was anything BUT co-operative. I will give it a whirl, but I wanted the game for the single-player, platforming greatness that resides on the little cartridge.

Will it be a system seller? Undoubtedly.

Should it have been bundled with the 3DSXL? Definitely.

Will some dismiss it based solely on price? Certainly.

Is it any good? It’s Fantastic!

Can’t say much more than that really, can you?

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