Is Nintendo Causing Gold Inflation?
By Monty Goulet
What is Mario, these days? The plumber used to try his hands at everything; one minute he is kicking shells and getting coins, the next he is playing tennis with Luigi. Whenever video game companies stretch out popular franchises rather than creative ones, disenchanted consumers call it a “money grab”. It is a charge that Nintendo has largely been immune to, even though its most popular character, Mario, has starred in hundreds of titles.
However, while Mario’s next reinvention might be a long way off, given that the Wii U version is another in the New Super Mario Bros series, the newest game in the Mario franchise, New Super Mario Bros 2 for the 3DS does improve on the series. For those new to the series, the New Super Mario Bros series revives the side-scrolling action of the original NES games, replacing 2D sprites with 3D ones and throwing a Super Mario World-style over world into the bargain. As well as finishing each stage, you now have to grab three deviously hidden giant coins – or at least you do if you want to unlock all the extra levels.
There is one new unique feature in this game. New Super Mario Bros 2 is chock-full of coins. The plumber’s always been partial to them, but this time he’s obsessed by them, – and the game reciprocates his gleeful avarice. They’re in the usual places, but they are also invisible in the environment, or hiding in special pipe rooms that act like enormous treasure chests. New gold rings turn enemies into golden versions that reward you with extra coins; new tokens give you up to 100 coins in one go; there’s even a new Gold Flower power-up that gives Mario the ability to transform enemies and blocks into cold hard cash. As ever, 100 of the blighters results in a 1-Up, but they also act as an overarching high score.
But while I enjoyed my time in Mario’s latest world, I couldn’t help feeling like I’d been there before. The major new power-up is a golden block that screws onto Mario’s head, creating a trail of coins. The familiar POW blocks now turn obstacles into coins. And hoops scattered across the skies deliver more coins.
Despite the “New” in its title, the latest Mario game is more of a look back to the 1980s, when we were all enjoying his antics on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Nostalgia aside, it just doesn’t offer the innovations and rewards of last fall’s Super Mario 3-D Land. If this is your first New Super Mario Bros, you’ll likely have a smashing time, but it’s a slightly less impressive feat second – no, wait, make that third – time around. This is still a great 2D platformer, but it’s lacking the vital creative spark that turns a great 2D platformer into a
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars