New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the 3DS is the direct sequel to New Super Mario Bros. on the DS. More Mario is never a bad thing (I’ve heard it nosed about that Mario has the most appearances in numbers of video games EVER, but it’s pretty much a case of  for that), and games in the proper numbered series are always well anticipated. This time around, the challenge is less on hunting down an errant princess than on collecting as many coins as you possibly can. And you’ll need a lot.
Whereas prior Mario games had you making for the exit of each level as fast as you could book it, New Super Mario Bros. 2 (henceforth abbreviated to NSMB2) hurls fistfuls of coins your way for doing just about anything. Move around the level? Coins! Kill an enemy? Coins! Hit a coin block? Coins, and then some! Take your 3DS out on the street? Coins! Close the 3DS? Coins! Well, OK, not that last one but pretty much anything you do in the game is guaranteed to shower you in shiny round bling.
The gameplay itself is so totally familiar that it’s hardly worth mentioning. Run. Jump. Collect stuff. Kill the occasional baddie. Fight the occasional boss. I think it’s because it’s so familiar that we find it so endearing. Mario is, after all, well over 30 years old now. The thing that has always made Mario a rewarding experience, however, is the fact that the levels are rewarding well after you’ve played them through once, due to the fact that there’s always so much hidden around the levels that you’ll be discovering new hidden sections, new hidden blocks, or new hidden warp pipes well after you’ve played for the fifth or fiftieth time. And, of course, this is no less true for NSMB2. There’s so much stuff to be discovered that you sometimes wonder how you missed all of it the first few times around.
The one new addition to the game is Coin Rush mode, a time-limited run through three randomly selected levels to grab as many coins as you possibly can. It’s wonderful fun, and there’s even some elements of strategy as you try to decide whether to go this route, or that route, get this coin block, or scarper for the next level before they call time. There’s no online leaderboard, but you can still exchange scores with someone via Streetpass. Hint: if you’re in Johannesburg, Durban, or Cape Town, take your 3DS with you to the gamers meetups for the best chance at this.
The sound and visuals in NSMB2 are nothing new, either. The music is directly from the Wii version of NSMB, and the visuals are not vastly different from that game either. The 3D effects aren’t hectically spectacular, but I’m going to be hard pressed to think of a 3DS game where the 3D was absolutely essential. The problem, I think, is that NSMB2 just isn’t a major step forward in any respect, really. Don’t get me wrong: it’s definitely fun. It’s just not, say Super Mario 3D Land, or even the revolution that was Mario Galaxy.
Overall, it’s still a worthy addition to your 3DS collection, and a lot of fun to play, besides. You’ll be sitting with the game for a long time trying to attain that million gold coins, or hunting down the highest score in Coin Rush. Just don’t expect the same revolution in Mario-ness that other games have brought.
Final Score: 7 golden prawns out of 10
Distributor: Nintendo South Africa (Core)
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Age Rating: PG