Nintendo gives away classic levels as DLC in New Super Mario Bros. 2

 new super mario bros 2

New Super Mario Bros. 2 isn’t the best game in Nintendo’s foundational franchise, but it is an important one. This platformer for Nintendo 3DS is the face of Nintendo’s nascent digital distribution business in 2012. No more WiiWare or eShop-only releases for the big N. It’s gone full swing, putting games in key series out at retail at the same time as on its download services and New Super Mario Bros. 2 is the canary Nintendo’s sent into the mine. Not just to see if it can turn the same profit on downloadable games as it does with cartridges at stores, but to see if it can properly support a game with regular downloadable content.

Nintendo certainly seems to understand how to bait its proverbial hook. The company announced on Tuesday that it’s planning a round of free downloadable content for New Super Mario Bros. 2. Due out in Japan this week, the Golden Classic Course Pack actually recreates levels from classic Mario games, including the first, second, and fourth levels from Mario Bros., the warp whistle-hiding fifth level from Super Mario Bros. 3, and arguably the most famous video game level ever made, Level 1-1 from the original Super Mario Bros.

While the pack is free at first, it will cost 200 yen (about $2.50) after January 31st.

This is actually the fourth downloadable content pack for New Super Mario Bros. 2. Nintendo released the first three sets back at the beginning of October, including the Gold Rush Pack, Coin Challenge Pack A, and the Nerve-Wrack Pack. Each one augments the game’s competitive Coin Rush mode and costs $2.50. Very expensive for content that doesn’t expand the core campaign.

Nintendo is smart to release the classic level DLC now, though. By offering it for free close to the holidays, when there’s a guaranteed flush of new players, it’s enticing potential customers to check out its digital offerings with no risk. Once the free sample’s consumed, there’s a readymade library of additional content to buy immediately.

People are buying Nintendo’s DLC slowly and steadily. This new pack for Mario should see the canary thrive down in the digital mines.