While Nintendo’s Nintendo 3DS software showcase at E3 2012 on Wednesday evening was a bust when it came to new software, there were thankfully new details on the handheld’s marquee title this fall, New Super Mario Bros. 2.
It’s a momentous occasion seeing a number behind Mario’s name. In fact, this is the first time since 1992 that a two-dimensional platformer starring the pudgy plumber actually had a number in the title. (That would be the original Game Boy’s Super Mario Land 2: The 6 Golden Coins for anyone counting.) Nintendo abandoned numerical sequels for its flagship series long ago in favor of titles defined by hardware or game concepts. (Look to Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine respectively.)
New Super Mario Bros. 2 expands on more than just the selections of levels and challenges seen in 2006’s New Super Mario Bros. for Nintendo DS. It brings new ideas to the whole 2D Mario concept. Rather than rushing through stages, finding secret exits, or collecting 3 hidden giant coins in each stage, this 3DS sequel is about collecting hundreds upon hundreds of golden coins per stage.
Coins have been a fixture in Mario games from the beginning, but these were purely for basic utility and simple rewards. Coin layouts in classic Mario games guided a layer through the stage, showing subtley where the player should jump and when. Now coins are the point of the game, with Mario turning bricks and enemies into showers of coins with a new Golden Flower power.
These coins also fuel the game’s odd competitive multiplayer mode. Finishing a level records a total for how many coins you’ve collected in that stage, and that information is saved to your Mii’s profile. When you pass another player with a 3DS, the Street Pass mode will send data based on three stages that the other player can then rush through trying to collect as many coins as possible to beat your high score. Coin Rush Mode as it’s called isn’t a true online competitive mode, but it’s as close as Nintendo gets really.
The game also offers 2 player co-operative play via local wireless. No online play was mentioned but that’s no surprise considering the company’s anachronistic approach to online play.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 is troubling. The constant clatter of coins in the game make it noisy and trying, bad enough in a series where Mario never stops whooping and hollering all the time. Picking up a coin in classic Mario games was treat, its clink a sign of success. It was never and end unto itself.
Nintendo’s only shown a tiny chunk of the game so far t E3 2012, but with the game out at the end of August, it’s fair to expect that this small chunk is representative of the whole.