This edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Nintendo's 3DS platformer New Super Mario Bros. 2, which reviewers describe as "a remixed encore presentation of games you've played before." New Super Mario Bros. 2 currently earns a score of 78 out of 100 at Metacritic.com.
Ray Carsillo at EGM scores New Super Mario Bros. 2 at 9 out of 10. "The twist this time is that the Mushroom Kingdom has apparently gone through some sort of economic boom, because coins are everywhere," he explains. "New Golden Fire Flowers turn blocks into coins or cause enemies to yield coins when defeated. Golden turtle shells leave a path of coins in their wake for Mario and Luigi to collect.
"The brothers can even carry around golden blocks that drop more coins as they jump, run, and fly through eight more worlds based in familiar Mushroom Kingdom locales. Along with these new items are the returning regular Fire Flower, Super Mushroom, Invincibility Star, and Raccoon Leaf. With the Raccoon Leaf, we also see the P-Meter return -- which, when full, allows Mario and Luigi to temporarily fly through the skies of a given stage."
Carsillo finds that Nintendo's platforming formula remains solid. "This platforming perfection is what makes Mario games so fun, and in that regard, New Super Mario Bros. 2 definitely succeeds with its own share of secrets, collectibles, and branching pathways that can be unlocked depending on how you should advance through the game," he writes.
"All in all, not much has changed since the last New Super Mario Bros., but not much really needed to change in the first place," Carsillo argues. "The new Coin Rush mode adds some needed replayability, and the StreetPass leaderboards can become addictive if youíre into that arcade style of play."
Wired's Chris Kohler rates New Super Mario Bros. 2 at 8 out of 10. "I think Nintendo realized that New Mario 2 had to provide an extra level of challenge for veteran players, because it doesnít change much else," he theorizes. "Besides some minor tweaks, it looks, sounds and plays just like New Super Mario Bros. on the legacy DS console, and for that matter New Super Mario Bros. Wii."
"I loved Super Mario 3D Land, released nine scant months ago; I loved how it did so many clever things with the systemís 3-D display," Kohler continues. "New Super Mario Bros. 2 does absolutely nothing with 3-D, and in spite of (because of?) that, itíll probably outsell 3D Land by a factor of two or three."
New Super Mario Bros. 2's two-player cooperative mode helps the game forge its own identity. "It seems a bit more difficult than the four-player New Mario Wii," Kohler recalls. "The player in 'control' can advance the playfield by running forward, rather than the game keeping everyone on the same screen. So it puts the burden on the players of staying in sync as they play."
"Mario 2 is an excellent game, but also a deliberately cautious one," Kohler says, "the development and release of which seems more driven by Nintendoís need to sell systems than its designersí passion for creating something new."
Joystiq's JC Fletcher gives New Super Mario Bros. 23.5 out of 5 stars. "Three games in, the New Super Mario Bros. series is already set in its ways," he writes. "Every Super Mario Bros. game used to define the rules; now I find the development team at Nintendo merely adhering to them. As a result, this feels less like something truly new and more like a remixed encore presentation of games you've played before."
"For the most part, the levels are easier than I'm used to -- certainly easier than New Super Mario Bros. Wii," Fletcher says. "The Star Coin locations aren't nearly as diabolical as I'd expect after working through Super Mario 3D Land. There are very few locations that require you to use a Mini or Mega Mushroom, both of which are back for the express purpose of allowing access to those few areas."
The new "cannon" worlds prove to be highlights. "In these levels, Mario is shot horizontally from a cannon, and is forced to automatically run through the level, putting you in charge of jumps," Fletcher explains. "Think of it as Canabalt with Mario physics, or a faster Donkey Kong Country mine cart. These levels are thrilling, difficult, and feel like nothing I've ever experienced in a Mario game. Frankly, this should have been the whole game. There aren't nearly enough of these."
The focus on coin collecting falls flat, however. "Here's how that recontextualized money collecting changes the game forever: There are some more coins." Fletcher states. "Why are you collecting coins? Because you're supposed to get a million. And why are you getting a million? Because ... the back of the box tells you to. It certainly doesn't come up in the game, and the narrative (the usual Peach rescue scenario) is silent about Mario's sudden and intense greed."
"Remember the first time you saw World 4 in Super Mario Bros. 3?" Fletcher asks. "Remember how weirdly experimental the Star Road levels were in Super Mario World? That's almost entirely gone, replaced with the rote recombination of stock elements. When NSMB2 does show flashes of clever trickery -- like a giant Boo that playfully sneaks forward while covering its face Ė it only serves to remind me how creative these games used to be."