New Super Mario Bros. 2

Easy Money

Greed is good in New Super Mario Bros. 2.

By Scott Jones • August 20, 2012

Through the years, Nintendo has largely managed to steer clear of subtext and politics. You want war games? You want virtual manifestations of angst? You want arty articulations of loneliness like Journey? Go elsewhere, subtext-seeking gamer. But if you’re in the market for plumbers fighting lizards, well then, take a seat and stay awhile.

The result: Although Mario has appeared in more than 200 games since the early ’80s, we know almost nothing about him. Of course, his tabula rasa quality is a key to his staying power. Project any fantasy you like in his direction. Old tofu Mario can accommodate it. Mario’s priority—or, as actors might call it, his “motivation”—has ostensibly always been to rescue Peach. It’s a chestnut that’s practically as old as stories (cf. Lancelot and Guinevere).

New Super Mario Bros. 2

Yet if the Mario-Peach plotline ever had any juice or credibility, it lost it a long time ago. For years now, like parents who stoically stay together for the sake of the kids, both parties have seemed to go through the motions. These two inevitably share a showy, chaste kiss at the end of each game—“See, kids? Daddy still loves Mommy very, very much”—then, once the credits roll, they no doubt slip off to separate bedrooms in the Mushroom Kingdom castle.

In New Super Mario Bros. 2, Mario discovers an entirely new motivation: It’s not Peach that gets Mario’s blood up, so to speak, but rather the coins that litter the trail en route to Peach. To say that the new game doesn’t skimp on coins would be a gross understatement. Coins are forever erupting from every onscreen opening in the game. They blow like angry geysers from warp pipes. They jangle—ting, ting, ting, ting—single-file out of the posteriors of flying fish. There are countless moments when the game’s screen is flooded with so many bouncing, preening coins (and they do seem to be preening, mocking Mario for wanting them) that Mario can only scramble about like a doomed game show contestant, grabbing whatever he can.

New Super Mario Bros. 2

The game keeps a running tally of Mario’s haul, with the ultimate goal—which winds up eventually feeling more like an absurd burden—being to rake in no less than one million coins. Note: As of this writing, after a solid week of playing the game, I had 14,594 coins to my name.

Merely adding millions and millions of coins wasn’t enough. So Nintendo carried things a step further and added a gold Fire Flower power-up, which turns Mario into a golden Mario statue. The fireballs that Gold Mario emits, à la King Midas, turn every brick in his vicinity into a coin. The designers also added a bizarre, blockhead-type “hat” into which Mario can squeeze his pate. Whenever he wears this unfashionable piece of headgear, which feels like something a naughty boy would be forced to wear in a Grimm’s fairy tale, Mario suddenly sees the entire world around him through coin-colored glasses.

New Super Mario Bros. 2

The game doesn’t have the courage to take this bit of fairy tale imagery further. Considering the nature of fairy tales, there should be a downside of some kind to Mario’s rampant greed (more of a downside, anyway, than wearing a weird hat for a brief while). As a result, the one-note message from New Super Mario Bros. 2 seems to be this: Keep on collecting coins, folks, and everything will eventually be all right. This is an awfully thin premise on which to hang a game. Worse still, Mario’s sudden coin craving comes off as antiquated, piggish and mean-spirited, particularly in a post-Occupy Wall Street world. One possible alternate title for the game: Mario’s Krazy Coin Quest To Join The One-Percenters.

Even when players lose the blockhead power-up, which happens whenever one comes into contact with one of the game’s enemies, the soundtrack is—oddly enough—right there to offer a round of canned studio-audience applause. It’s difficult to say who or what the applause is for. No matter how clumsily you perform while wearing the blockhead, as long as you manage to stumble across 100 coins (no lofty feat), you still get the applause. It’s in these moments that the “doomed game show contestant” feeling is most potent. Things that aren’t funny still get laughs, things that aren’t remarkable still get applause, and everyone goes home with a year’s supply of Turtle Wax.

New Super Mario Bros. 2
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Price: $40
Rating: E

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115 Responses to “Easy Money”

  1. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    I find it interesting that every coin seems to have a slot through the middle.  Can you insert coins into a machine which then enables you to insert slightly smaller coins through the slot to purchase even smaller coins?

  2. caspiancomic says:

    Mario’s reputation of late has been really, really interesting to me. The consensus seems to be that his games have gotten no less good, but that after 25 years (!!!!!) even his pure-distilled-joy charms are starting to grate. Yahtzee’s reviews of the Galaxy games are pretty telling in this department. He spends his review of Galaxy 2 in particular berating the series for being repulsed by new ideas, but is forced in the end to admit that purely as a game, if you had never played a Mario title in your life, it’s still pretty solid.

    It’s the classic argument: burn out, or fade away? Will Sonic’s legendary faceplant and 10 years spent dragging himself through the mud and broken glass one day compare favourably to Mario’s telling the same warmed-over joke at every party for two and a half decades?

    Or maybe I’ve just got the schadenfreudes because for the first time in my adult life the gap between Sonic and Mario’s review scores is razor-thin. Man, those 16-bit console war attitudes really stay with you. Sonic vs. Mario is the Michael Jackson vs. Prince of our generation.

    • blue vodka lemonade says:

       We were a Genesis household for a long time, so I do get a little zing of residual schadentricity any time Mario things get less-than-glowing reviews.

      I think that Mario, no matter how bad the series may get (or not get) in the future, is so entrenched in game history that the overall rep won’t change too much from what it is now.

      The issue I see with Mario is that his “brand” is associated with mostly simplified, distilled kinds of experiences, and largely plotless ones. You’ve got your Karts and your Supers and your whatever, and none of those seem terribly distinguishable from past iterations of themselves. Like the review said, in Super Mario Bros it’s always about saving Peach from a lizard-turtle-frog-thing.

      Even Link gets to play in a different story each time, so that no matter how repetitious the Zelda games might get they can always set themselves apart with a new story and a new supporting cast. Mario games just repeat the same set of personalities, the same story, and the same general style and hope to remain fresh almost entirely through their mechanics and level designs–and in a streamlined genre like the pure platformer, that’s very difficult to do.

      • RidleyFGJ says:

        Barring a couple of offshoots like Link’s Awakening and Majora’s Mask, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with a Zelda title that doesn’t involve Link saving Zelda from someone who is either Ganon or has strong ties to Ganon.

        • blue vodka lemonade says:

           That part is the same (and the same as Mario,) but there’s more flexibility in setting, ambiance, and incidental characters, which is what I meant to highlight. It’s not that Zelda is a series known for its incredibly varied narratives, just that it works okay as a comparison point for another series which shares some key elements.

        • Kevin_The_Beast_King says:

          A few of the portable Zelda titles would fit that description. As was once the case with Mario, the gameboy titles used to be variations on a theme, rather than a shrunk down version of the current console title. 

          If you’ve not played them, I’d highly recommend Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons if you can get your hands on a Gameboy Color (or failing that, an emulator). 

          Those two games had what I believe is a unique mechanic. You can play both games individually, but if you complete both you get a bonus dungeon where you eventually fight Ganon. I think there’s a lot of kids (myself included) who only got one of the two and never played that final dungeon.

        • frogandbanjo says:

          The Zelda games manage to get more mileage out of the ‘rescue the princess’ trope because they explicitly set up the idea of trinities as being incredibly important to the world they’ve created, and then plug The Hero, The Villain, and The Princess into that larger framework. It gives them a lot of wiggle room to change details while still remaining true to the general idea that Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf have a truly consequential and transcendent relationship to each other, and to the (tri!)forces that shaped their world.
          It’s such a facepalm-obvious hook, but it works. Hell, we were taught during our litigation training seminars to make lists of three things as often as possible. Two’s not enough and four’s too many. Five is right out.

          Personally I think the worst thing to ever happen to the Zelda franchise was the insistence of some rube in Japan that all the games could be organized into sensible timelines (the plural necessitated by time travel, which, ugh.) I’ve always felt that the Zelda franchise represented a weird sort of Japanese mirror-image to one of the broad conceits of Irish myth and folklore. Whereas in Irish folklore we’re presented with the idea of stories being played out over and over again (with variations for different time periods, settings, etc.,) by different individuals who took on (or had thrust upon them) larger, high-concept roles, in Japan you have the idea of specific characters, who generally possess some immutable core traits – some of which are physical – being plugged into different stories, each of which can explore a different collection of applicable themes while still remaining true to any core relationships that exist between them.

          Mario, Luigi, Peach and Bowser never really had that type of mojo going on. Their deal is much more about innocent surreality and a childlike sense of play.

        • Girard says:

           @green_gin_rickey:disqus : I would say Mario has a great deal of flexibility in setting and ambiance, but that rather than express it via narrative like the (later) Zelda games, Mario games tend to express novelty and innovation through level design (both in terms of the mechanical design of the level, and the appearance of the level).

          The early 2-D Mario games all looked drastically different from each other, and their worlds and levels definitely varied greatly, providing a different “feel” (a platformer version of that “setting and ambience”). Mario World 2 has a very different feel from Mario 3, which has a very different feel from Mario 1, which has a very different feel from Mario 64,etc., and each game aims to surprise and delight not with “novel” narrative additions, but with new spaces to explore and navigate (a giant world, a crystal cave, a tower to the clouds, a series of increasingly weird planetoids…). The narrative framework is rehashed, but is also about as relevant as the narrative framework of a game of Monopoly.

          The “New” Super Mario games, however, seem to have none of this innovation, and come across as visually and ludically kind of lazy. Despite spanning 4 systems (if we include the previews of the WiiU), the games look pretty much identical – contrast this with Marios 1, 2, and 3, which look very different despite being on the same hardware – and their levels rehash the same cliches of a snow level, desert level, etc.

          I basically have zero desire to play either of the upcoming ones, because I kind of feel like I already have. This typically isn’t the case with Mario games, and is consequently kind of disappointing.

        • RidleyFGJ says:

          @Girard:disqus The irony of the history of the Mario games is that the reason we got the Super Mario Bros. 2 that we did was partially because Nintendo’s American office felt that the actual Super Mario Bros. 2 was too similar to its predecessor. Thus, the most famous ROM-hack in history was born.

        • Arthur Chu says:

          Too similar to its predecessor and, it must be noted, too ridiculously hard for an American audience.

        • Asinus says:

          I liked the original SMB2– it’;s probably my favorite in the series. They did clean up Doki-Doki Panic and make it prettier and more fun to play, but, yeah, it’s not an original Mario game. However, the characters, characteristics, enemies, etc. continued on in the franchise. 

          While we’re on the topic of sequels of Zelda and SMB– I think it’s interesting to note that each of their sequels (in the US, anyway) are the ones that seem to stray furthest from the conventions that were eventually set as a pattern. I mean, at the end of each game you kill the Big Bad. It only makes sense that the enemy in the second one would be different. Yeah, you’re saving Zelda (who is not kidnapped, just comatose) in Adventures of Link but there isn’t a Gannon. 

          Not too long ago I was watching a video review of (US) SMB2 and the idiot reviewer was bitching about Bowser not being in it (“Where’s Bowser??”). I mean, why would he be, logically? He was dumpped into lava at the end of the previous game. It makes more sense that he WOULD’T be back. I also like that the princess actually gets to be one of the heroes in the second game. That’s a nice change before they shoved her back into the distressed-damsel role. 

        • I’m a huge, HUGE Super Mario fan(boy). I have the Nintendo Power comic from the 90s, and a solid hardcover volume of the short-lived Valiant comic run of the 90s as well. I even have a number of “Choose Your Own Adventure” type Mario books. And even I have to admit the games are getting stale.

          I mean, sure, they’re fun, but after Seven Stars, and the Superstar Saga and the Paper Mario series, the idea of Mario Bros. being story-less, simplistic, and game-design driven really should be on the way out. Sure, we don’t need a massive, epic story, but if you’re going into the nostalgic well, why NOT bring back some classic badguys – you bring back shyguys, but not WART? Where’s Tartanga, Wario, Fawful, etc.? They could be wonderfully implemented in a 2-D platformer, and it might inspire newer game design concepts other than, uh, collection millions of coins. (Seriously, what kinda of surprise would be worth that kind of slog?)

          I probably might play this at some point, but certainly not any time soon. I DO want story-driven Mario Bros., because they tend to be really great. I’d argue Bower’s Inside Story has one of the BEST intros to a game of all time.

        • George_Liquor says:

          Yeah, SMB2 is pretty much the only Mario game that treats Peach as a regular character, instead of a trophy–and that was just happy accident. The one lousy game she does star in turns her into a complete basket-case.

        • RidleyFGJ says:

          @facebook-501651:disqus But aren’t you already satisfied with the story content of the various Mario RPGs? Why does a Mario platformer need that same kind of focus?

        •  @RidleyFGJ:disqus  Oh, I definitely am. I guess I’m seeing it as the only “real” way that 2D Mario games can improve.

          To explain: reading the comments, people are indeed bored with the same “ice, forest, fire, etc.” levels. I’m not too sure what could be next, though, in terms of the platformer. We already sent Mario into space, and the physical designs of the lever can be played with, but I’m honestly not sure what Nintendo can do at an aesthetic level to change it – outside of adding a story element.

          The truth is that platformers, 2D or 3D, are dead, and this is from someone who LOVES them (and have a theory into resurrecting them). Outside of Mario Bros., which has managed to buck the trend with clever game design up until this point, the only upcoming AAA platformer is Sly Cooper 4 (outside of the indie stuff). There’s also a new Ratchet and Clank game on the way, but there’s a reason the tower defense element was marketed more than the platforming element.

          I feel that, with the history behind SMB, adding a story element (with both comic and serious beats) might be the kick the series really need. It’s obvious that even the developers are copy-pasting coding from previous games, and giving them some kind of tale to draw inspiration from might kick them out the rut.

          In addition, the gaming market is maturing, and at a basic level, it seems like gamers want the playing to mean something, and it’s hard to feel like it was worth it after the recent Mario games. Like, I started playing Galaxy, and I enjoyed it, up until I realized I’ll be getting 120 stars, then making Luigi get 120 stars, and the thought kinda depressed me. I DID this already in 64.

          And even with NSMB Wii, I and my brother played it, beat it, and got all the large coins in all the levels, and then… left it there. I can’t even say I was satisfied.

          Part of this is the nerd-fan-boy in me, definitely, but nothing will be that Seven Stars experience or that intro to Inside Story, that idea of Mushroom Kingdom having MORE to it, that SMB isn’t JUST about saying the Princess from Bowser (which in itself is a half-assed excuse to collect coins, attend stars, and find secrets).

          In fact, you could say story elements are indeed what made SMB2, SMB3, and SMW so great. SMB2 is Mario sent to Sub-Con, to fight the tyrant Wart and save the people. SMB3 is Bower returning, with KIDS! Also, there are lands with their own KINGS! Honestly, there could be an On the Level write-up on World 5, the tower that leads you the actual sky world. How mind-blowing is that? You don’t just start in the sky… you have to GET there. And SMW is the crew vacation in Dinosaur Land and odd activity coming from Bowser’s wreck airship. And Forest of Illusion? That’s fucking genius (and also worthy of a On the Level writeup).

          To be fair, 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy have those aspects as well. I fucking LOVE Galaxy’s storytelling with Rosalina’s tale. It’s hauntingly beautiful. 64 is almost like some Twilight Zone-esque tale placed in the castle. Sunshine’s issue was that the water gun was really gimmicky and the level design was pretty terrible (it’s nigh impossible to get all 120 stars without a guide).

          And all of that is a roundabout way of getting to the main issue – we’re STILL doing 120 stars. We’re STILL saving the princess. We have a HUGE cast of characters but we have random blue and yellow toads…. and NOT Toad himself? Also, there’s no THERE there in these 2D platformers, no sense of place or time or purpose, main even more bland by the idea of collecting a million coins. Ugh.

          Wow, that went long. TL;DR – giving SMB a unique story to build on inspires new ideas in game design and locales, inspires a decent 2D platformer that isn’t cookie-cutter.

        • RidleyFGJ says:

          @facebook-501651:disqus They already did a Mario platformer with all the story trimmings and, well, it was Super Mario Sunshine, and the story and voice acting was just as harshly criticized as the camera issues were. I think Nintendo realizes that they are by and large really, really, really bad at both conceiving stories as well as telling them, so Mario rarely gets anything too taxing other than “Peach got kidnapped as a result of this game’s gimmick; here’s 70 some-odd levels of fun to go through before you get her back.”

          There is a reason why that if there are stories that come out of Nintendo’s lineup that are good, they tend to involve their satellite studios like Intelligent Systems, AlphaDream, or Monolith Soft. I’d even throw Retro Studios in there, if only because their take on the storytelling in the Metroid Prime series is far more faithful to the tone of the original games than the internally developed games have been as of recent, and that internal team is headed up by the co-creator of the series!

        • @RidleyFGJ:disqus Hmm. Well, as I mentioned, Sunshine had more problems than its story trimmings – being a direct rehash of 64, a not so great gimmick with the FLUDD, the nigh-impossible method of finding all 120 stars, the poor level design, the “sameness” of the entire game (being placed on a tropical island) and so on.

          The story itself was… well, I mean, it wasn’t awful – SPOILERS – it’s a fake shadow Mario that happens to be baby Bowser –  END SPOILERS which is kinda cool if simple, but it was poorly told through a not so great game. I wouldn’t say the story was the problem. The game itself was, and the story was shit icing on poopcake.

          I certainly won’t say Nintendo are strong storytellers, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say they completely suck at them. SMB2 through SMW are cool stories, perfectly sparse enough and goofy enough to imply a grand adventure that occurs while going to save the Princess: saving transformed kings, freeing Sub-con, saving trapped Yoshis (originally Bowser trapped Yoshi’s in those eggs!), and so on. (And even Yoshi’s Island had a good, if problematic, story behind it) SMW even had goofy epilogues for each level with a write-up after Mario attempts to blow up a Koopaling’s castle. Where are my letters from the Princess between stages, a la SMB3? And I think Galaxy has a really great tale in Rosalina’s backstory.

          All of this is a roundabout way of thinking about putting Mario and co. in a situation (in relation to the 2D adventures) where there’s more going on than just saving the Princess. Perhaps each level has a “problem” that’s obviously caused by a Koopaling, and you go through the stage to stop that problem on the way to the Princess. Like, if you’re on a water stage, and Lemmy blocks a river with a dam. So you go to various levels getting to the dam, then you have a level climbing the dam (akin to the tower level in World 5), then you have to beat Lemmy in his castle. Then you get a goofy cutscene of the damn breaking. THEN you do the next level.

          It’s cheesy, of course, but it’s these small details that had always breathed life into the Mario universe. It made kids smile, and adults express interest in the various area they were in. Again, there are no Forest of Illusions any more. There’s no Star Roads or Special Areas. There’s no hidden rocks on the world maps that lead to flutes and special mushroom builds to get cool items. There’s no silly card games or hidden warps or REALLY clever ideas, like riding a Birdo egg across a HUGE batch of water to complete a level.

          Maybe storytelling isn’t what I meant, but I do think the newer Mario games need to really think about adding world-building and imaginative ideas that go being egregious coin-collecting.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      You Genesis kids.  Waxing rhapsodic over your console while drinking a Pepsi, smoking a Marlboro and idly tinkering with your Mega-Bloks.
         Speaking solely for myself, the Galaxy games are a triumph of game design.  They are gorgeous, inventive and immaculately structured.  This doesn’t mean that Mario isn’t a law of diminishing returns, or that the Galaxy games are an objective truth, but those two are pretty amazing games.

      • Girard says:

         The Galaxy games are certainly something special, and if anything stand as a counterargument to the notion that Mario’s game have gotten stale. There is probably more innovation between Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 then there has been in the entire “New” Super Mario series from start to finish.

    • GhaleonQ says:

      You’re swimming around something that’s always frustrated me with video games.  Franchises are so arbitrarily defined, as they can go by protagonist, tone, canonical universe, or gameplay mechanic.

      People simultaneously want Super Mario to change but also maintain its core mechanics.  It’s contradictory, and what does that even mean?  Yoshi’s Island 1 was Miyamoto experimenting with new mechanics.  That’s definitely a Yoshi game, however.  But what if it starred a grown Mario with a projectile device of some kind rather than?  Is it a “proper” Super Mario game, then?  And, if the line is that thin, why did people moan when he strapped on a backpack booster/projectile in Super Mario Sunshine or had weirdo sequences in Super Mario Land 1?  Did these same people complain when he learned to double- and triple-jump, something that also detonated the earlier games’ leaps of faith?  No one agrees on what Super Mario is.

      If gamers actually wanted to reward Nintendo for trying something new, they’d have bought all of their friends the latest Mario Versus Donkey Kong and wouldn’t have pouted when the Gamecube launched with Luigi.  I want whingers to tally their Wario Land games and say that they bought Super Princess Peach for their younger brothers or sisters.  *shakes copy of Wrecking Crew ’98 at youngsters*  Takehiko Hosokawa works at the same company as Miyamoto, people!

      …………*nervous cough*  That said, the aesthetics in these games sure are lazy.  They should try harder.

      • Joel of Arc says:

        Personally, I want a realistic, down-to-earth Mario game that’s completely off the wall and swarming with magic robots.

      • Geo X says:

        Did people “moan” about Super Mario Land?  I feel like the franchise wasn’t sufficiently calcified at that point to invoke such things.  Also, not much internet around to do it on.  

        • GhaleonQ says:

          That, of course, is the purpose Electronic Gaming Monthly served.

        • Girard says:

           Overall it was a well-argued post, so I didn’t want to pick that nit, but yeah. Those of us old enough to be playing video games back then were too busy having our MINDS BLOWN that we could play Mario in the van on the way to the supermarket to complain that it was weird that the turtles turned into bombs or that Mario was fighting an alien warlord.

          (Which makes me think – poor Tatanga didn’t get the lucrative multiple spin-off opportunities that Wario did! Where’s my “Super Tatanga Land”? “Tatanga-Ware Smooth Moves”?)

        • GhaleonQ says:

          @google-a3602328bb1d99f4cb1359bc9a33d0fc:disqus @paraclete_pizza:disqus Yeah, from what I can see from the reviews and letter section, they complained that it was “too short,” and “weird,” and, “Where’s Bowser?”  It’s true!

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          Wow, people seriously hated it?  I thought Super Mario Land was great!  Of course, SMB2 is my favorite of the NES games, so maybe I’m just weird.

        • George_Liquor says:

          Given how much I loved my Game Boy when I was a kid, it’s weird that I find it completely unplayable today. Nostalgia usually gets the best of me when playing the games I grew up with, but it just can’t push me past that small, smeary, pea soup green screen.

          That screen, and how it’s used by the game, is the problem I have with the first Super Mario Land. Even when I was a kid and, like @paraclete_pizza:disqus, my tiny mind was blown by the idea of a pocket-sized Mario game, I had a hard time recognizing those tiny monochrome blobs of pixels as Mario and the Mushroom Kingdom baddies.

      • Enkidum says:

        You’ve got the Supers, the Galaxies, the Karts, the Papers, the Doctors, the Sports, not to mention the Kongs and the Smashes… I mean, seriously, Mario has been involved with more diverse gameplay than just about anything else out there, and a lot of it is really superb. Nintendo has been rewarded for experimentation with a single character in ways that no other developers have.

        That being said, I’ve played many hours of SMBII, about an hour of Kart I or II, a few hours of Smash, and maybe an hour total of everything else. I’ve just never had long term access to a Nintendo. But still, I know he’s pretty awesome.

        • Merve says:

          You know, it warms my heart to realize that no matter how many Coles, Jacks, or Nathans the video game industry produces, the greatest hero in gaming is still a portly plumber from Brooklyn with a ridiculous accent.

      • Dom King says:

        There’s always Donkey King Jnr, where Mario is an evil zoo captor.

  3. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    “Look upon poor Mario, his golden touch once a blessing, now only a curse.  For how can he be made bigger, when his power-up mushroom is nothing but a shiny bauble, cold and dead at his feet.
       And what use a golden fire flower, when it’s aurum glow can infer no fireball hurtling ability?  And there will be no whimsical flight in a tanooki suit.  Those massive golden testicles are much to heavy.”

                                             -Super Aesop’s Fables; chapter 3, World 4

  4. Plus isn’t Wario the one who’s obsessed with gold?

    • GhaleonQ says:

      Miyamoto actually beat American indie kids to the punch.  The whole series has had an unreliable narrator for the past 30 years.  I mean, he’s fighting a shadow, grotesque version of himself.  Made In Wario/WarioWare?  Yeah, it’s WARIO whose face is stamped on trifling mini-game collections that rely on casual gamers and nostalgia trips.  GIVE IT UP, PLUMBER.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      Yeah, you beat me to this, but yeah, Wario, not Mario, used to be the one obsessed with gold. Although these days, with everyone worried about the banks, I can understand people hiding gold coins in their pipes — all the better for a plumber/thief like Mario to loot.

  5. Joel of Arc says:

    This whole insane “collect a billion coins for no damn reason” mechanic seems like a Nintendo higher-up didn’t take kindly to Braid’s ribbing of the Mario franchise and designed a game specifically to give Jonathan Blow an aneurysm.

    • blue vodka lemonade says:


    • UserGoogol says:

      Based on having played the game for about a day, the whole “can you get a million coins” thing isn’t actually in the game, and seems like it was just something they threw around in the marketing. (Although apparently you get some sort of nominal reward for accomplishing that.) In-game, they give you the open ended goal of as many as you can find, and then set you loose. Collecting lots of shit is a fairly standard platform game dynamic; the particular way they implemented  it encourages grinding, but there’s very little reward for actually doing so.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Japanese games do have a greater propensity to set some sort of far-off goal leagues beyond anything your character would be capable of during regular completion of the story.
         Square Enix and their fetishization for apocalyptic-level monsters seeded randomly in the game world is a prime example.
         I understand the principle.  It’s both a challenge indicating true mastery and a way to keep the game dynamic even after the last boss is defeated, but it drives me nuts.  When dealing with a goal so distant it might as well be an imaginary number, it actually compels me to put a game down and go outside.

  6. But what can you spend them on?  How do I know these gold coins aren’t, directly or indirectly, funding evil?  How do I know these aren’t…blood gold coins?

    I bet you Bowser owns every freaking mall in the Mushroom Kingdom.

    • zebbart says:

      Gold coins? The Mushroom Kingdom hasn’t been on the
      gold standard in over 40 years! These are fiat coins created
      artificially by Koopa’s bankster cronies to prop up the Bullet Bill
      Industrial Complex. Those coins aren’t worth the pixels they’re printed
      on. Ron Paul 2012!

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        This is why Hyrule’s rupee-based economy makes it the economic ascendant to watch.  That nation’s a Sleeping Octoroc. 

  7. Kevin_The_Beast_King says:

    NSMB 2’s middling reception doesn’t surprise me, as Mario sequels that draw heavily on the style of the original are always a lesser experience. The only counter-example I can think of is Super Mario Bros. 3, which distilled the pleasure of Mario into so fine a point that it’s still fun to play some 20 years later.

    Mario seems to be suffering from the same issue as many other big titles like Modern Warfare or Assassin’s Creed, in that innovation is slowing down. NSMB W, NSMB , NSMB 2, and NSMB U are all near identical games, with only minor improvements each time. 

    Maybe I’m old and jaded, but seeing a new console launch with what looks like a fairly uninspired sequel hurts my inner child just a little bit more than I’d like.

    • AvengedSevenfoldFan1993 says:

      The problem is that Nintendo doesn’t give a crap about 2D Mario because it already makes oodles of money, money that they most likely assume won’t be increased by making grander more inventive sequels.

      In comparison there hasn’t been a single modern Zelda game that has made as many sales as Ocarina of Time. That shouldn’t be considering that Ocarina was on a far less popular console and there’s just more gamers out there. So they keep putting the A+ Production values on Zelda. Full Orchestras, new inventive art styles, ambitious motion controls, etc. Nintendo does this because they hope that more people will buy Zelda games.

      2D Mario on the other hand has appeared to reached its market cap, how much higher can you go after hitting more than 25 million copies. Why would they want to reinvent the wheel over a product that’s so successful?

      TL;DR, the next great 2D Mario game will only come after a half assed 2D Mario game has disappointing sales numbers.

      • Kevin_The_Beast_King says:

        That’s a fair point, Zelda is now the Nintendo showcase. I can see why, but for me the Zelda series has given diminishing returns since Majora’s Mask. 

        Four Swords Adventures is, in a way, the NSMB equivalent. It was a fun game that got hamstrung by an expensive and overly complex control system. I’d be very surprised if a revamped iteration of that game didn’t appear on the Wii U at some point.

      • Enkidum says:

        Did you forget to sign out and then in as… someone here?

  8. Staggering Stew Bum says:

    And Mario still has no clue whatsoever about how to crouch.

    • Captain Internet says:

      That is at least authentic. When plumbers need to work on things near the floor, they are taught to wear loose-fitting trousers and bend over. 
      Source: Wikipedia.

  9. David Ritter says:

    Actually, the moral that everything turns out well for people who’ve collected the most coins might not be especially poetic, but it certainly seems to be realistic.

  10. Am I missing something? What did the reviewer actually think of the game? I’ve read this review three times through and seen hardly anything in terms of actual critique.

    • StephenM3 says:

       Picture Super Mario World, but where every last thing you touch shits out a hundred inconsequential coins as your reward for touching it.

      If the review didn’t say anything, it’s because there’s really absolutely nothing to say about NSMB2.

    • HobbesMkii says:

      Yes and no. I see some implicit value judgments being made about the game and the direction of the series, but no, Scott Jones hasn’t really tried to influence you either way in whether it’s a game worth buying. That’s because there’s a philosophy here at the GS that the readers are human beings capable of reaching such decisions on their own. It’s jarring, I suppose, but I appreciate it. I know that a lot of other people here do too.

    • John Teti says:

      Yeah, like Hobbes said, we often skew toward a more qualitative analysis here, and if that’s not your cup of tea, that’s cool. We readily admit it’s not for everyone, and we respect your preferences.

      That said, if you read a review of a game that states it has a “thin premise”; “doesn’t have courage”; is “antiquated, piggish, and mean-spirited”; and made the critic feel like a “doomed game show contestant,” yet still you are baffled as to the writer’s opinion of the game, then yes, to answer your question, I think you are missing something.

      • RTW says:

        Well now hold on. That comment was a pretty crass generalization that lacked nuance, but I “liked” it because I agree with its general sentiment. I think it’s easy to see how one could think this review isn’t actually saying a whole lot. Of the eight total paragraphs, the first three aren’t even about the game, and that penultimate paragraph is just rancid (though it does contain what I consider the most salient and fascinating charge the author leveled at the game). Obviously I can’t read the developers’ minds, but I highly doubt they really had Occupy Wall Street and subtexts of greed in mind while they made the game; I bet they just wanted a gimmick to make the game stand out and this was the best they could come up with. They could have done more with the coin shtick, obviously, but Mario games have never exactly been treasure troves of theme and symbolism, and it benefits neither the reader nor the author to go hunting for them there. It just comes off as so much annoying undergraduate bull-shitting, like D.B. Weiss in Lucky Wander Boy, trying desperately to pretend that the Atari and arcade games of his youth were anything more than primitive toys, which to me is an insult to the myriad other far more complex games in the intervening decades that actually intentionally wove theme and symbolism into the fabric of their being. I don’t think this review is horrible, but it’s not much more than a bunch of fluff either.

        • John Teti says:

          The fact that the developers probably did not have Occupy Wall Street on their mind when they made the game isn’t especially relevant. Nobody argued that they did, and indeed, that would likely be folly.
          You say you can’t read the developers’ minds, and neither can a critic. So, at least on Gameological, we generally don’t try. Instead, we look at the work in a variety of cultural contexts. Scott’s talking about how the game’s “greed is good” construction looks to him in the particular context that struck him. Your preference seems to be for no cultural context (except in those cases where you see fit), which is fine as far as it goes, but that doesn’t mean someone with a different perspective is saying nothing.

          You say that “Mario games have never exactly been treasure troves of theme and symbolism.” So does Scott, in those three paragraphs you have deemed not to count because they “aren’t even about the game.” Of course, he’s framing the review by exploring that lack of overt symbolism and the reasons behind it. I guess it counts as important insight when you talk about it, but not when the critic talks about it?

          My point is that you should feel free to disagree, but “the review didn’t say anything” tends to be a pretty lame argument. Certainly it is quite possible for a vacuous review to be written, and I realize the difficulty in arguing a negative, but often I find that “This review didn’t say anything” is mostly a way for a commenter to avoid responding to what the critic did say.

  11. rvb1023 says:

    New Super Mario Bros. was the last straw for me as far as 2D Mario games go.  It and it’s fellows are the embodiment of everything I have hated since the Wii turned out to be a success and Nintendo decided they didn’t have to try anymore.  And now Nintendo is adding elements of grinding to a platformer, so excuse me if I don’t jump for joy. 

    I could probably rant for hours about just how much I dislike NSMB and the fact that it became it’s own subseries and Nintendo’s tenacity to keep “New” in the title and how there still are two unnamed Toads instead of two of the bevy of existing Mario characters or someone new and how all the games look the damn same and how the characters bounce off of each other like they’re all trampolines and all the “bah-bah’s” in the music which still probably hasn’t changed and how I have to hold the Wiimote in that uncomfortable sideways position because even Nintendo realized motion controls don’t work so the normal controller designed is screwed beyond belief and gah.

    Sorry, I have just yet to enjoy one of these games.  Being a well-designed platformer in an age where quirky indie platformers are a dime a dozen just doesn’t cut it any more.

    • Girard says:

       Agreed. These games are lazy, and inevitably disappointing. Folks looking for an inventive 2-D Mario experience might be better served digging up the (excellent) Mario 3 ROM hack Mario Adventure. Or, you know, just playing any other Mario game….

      • zebbart says:

        Interesting, I will have to check Mario Adventure out. Super Mario Bros. X is also great, and if Nintendo had any sense or love they would have bought it and sold it instead of trying to eliminate it.

        • Girard says:

           Mario Adventure is pretty inventive and amazing – I’d argue even moreso than Mario X, which  was also quite cool. The hacker who made it was working on an even more ambitious sequel project, but sadly aborted it. Playing the in-progress file shows a tremendous amount of potential, and some significant innovations and alterations to the gameplay.

          Typically ROM hacks are just sprite swaps or level packs, but these are genuine, bona fide, new games with some new mechanics, power-ups, and worlds (including one world where all of the levels are weird little mini-puzzles, which plays completely differently from your typical ones).

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          Redigit quit working on SMBX to make Terraria, which was sort of like SMB crossed with Minecraft.  Lot of fun if you like action games with building/searching for materials included.

          Then his artist quit to make a Terraria clone, so now he’s working on something else.

        • RTW says:

          Mario Adventure gets a lot of credit largely because it was a complete and comprehensive overhaul that came out in a time when most hacks were no more than simple, often puerile palette swaps (It’s Mario 1, but he’s black! It’s Mario 1, but he’s a cat! It’s Mario 1, but he’s naked!). It has aged very poorly, however, with some of the ugliest palettes possible on the NES, the unrealized potential of the totally random weather patterns featured therein, and some extremely boring and repetitive levels and level designs (it’s insane how many times you have to fight Bowser in the final world with so little variation each time). I’m not saying it’s not an accomplishment, because for its time it was amazing, and it did some pretty great things with power-ups that many more accomplished hacks to this day don’t even bother to attempt. However, it suffers by comparison to almost any other Mario hack made with a comparable degree of completion and dedication.

    • Channel 8 News says:

      Just a tiny nitpick, but you are talking about New Super Mario Bros. Wii, not New Super Mario Bros. Two different games. The latter was the first in the series, and came out for the DS.

      • rvb1023 says:

        Yeah, that was a mistake on my part.  The first NSMB wasn’t terrible it was just a bland remake but at least they advertised it as such and made the “new” moniker a lot less rage inducing.

    • RTW says:

      I enjoyed the first New Super Mario Bros. a lot and didn’t find it lazy at all. When it was the only NSMB game, the title was a cheeky bit of wordplay—yes, it’s technically a *new* game, but not really, since it’s mostly a pastiche of all the mainline Mario games that came before it (which I feel worked). I’m as distressed as everyone else however that it appears to have become a franchise, each new installment just a set of samey levels they can bundle together and slap a new number on.

      I also agree that it’s disappointing that they all look the same; that homogeneous look is probably a big factor in the lethargy the NSMBs seem to suffer from. Back when Mario games looked different by necessity of hardware capability, each one did different things that fit their aesthetic. Unless Nintendo consciously takes a different art direction with a new Mario game, that won’t be possible anymore, and that’s a shame.

      • rvb1023 says:

         Yeah, as @Channel_8_News:disqus mentioned above, I don’t really have a problem with that first DS one, I just thought it was meh.  What I meant was the Wii one.

  12. Dom King says:

    Mario has always been a douchebag anyway.
    This obsession with getting paid to save people is no surprise. 

  13. Disco Stu says:

    Don’t you love reviews where the writer can’t think of anything substantive to say so they just jerk off with lines they think are so clever?  I just can’t take anyone who compares a new freakin’ Mario game to the Occupy movement seriously.

  14. doyourealize says:

    So Nintendo just came out and said it, huh? Mario doesn’t care about the princess, just money. And why should anyone be surprised? In the first Super, the only way he could move was right. So unless he just wanted to sit down and have a picnic, he had to keep moving towards the princess. Actually, he couldn’t even wait, since doing that too long would mean death.

    The only area in which he had any artistic say was in how he went about getting paid. He could rush through and save the princess quick so he could get back to plumbing or whatever, or he could hang out in each screen and figure out inventive ways to get more coins. (“Maybe if I hit my head on this block, a vine will come out!”) What choice did he have? The coins meant sanity!

    And now, he doesn’t need them anymore, but it’s all he wants. He can’t be bothered to save the princess unless there’s a million bucks in it for him. So we know almost nothing about him, Scott? Nay! We’ve witnessed Mario’s progression from reluctant hero and savior to petty kingpin, saving someone who might not even want to be saved. He’s video games’ Walter White.

    I look forward to the natural end of the Mario series, when everyone gets together and decides it’s time to take out Mario. But they’ll have to use all their wits to get to him, since he’s got enough to buy all the defenses he needs. When that happens, some advice for Princess, Luigi, Bowser, and the gang. Guns help.

    • Staggering Stew Bum says:

      I’d like to see a gritty reboot where Mario has to fight to save the princess when she is kidnapped by ruthless German terrorists led by the fiendish Hans Bauhser, the pitch would be Die Hard in Mushroom world.

      a-Yippee-a-ki-yay, mother-a-fucker!

      • HobbesMkii says:

        Hans Bauhser: [on the radio] Mr. Mystery Guest? Are you still there? 
        John McMario: Yeah, I’m-a still-a here. Unless you wanna open-a the front door for-a me. 
        Hans Bauhser: Uh, no, I’m afraid not. But, you have me at a loss. You know my name but who are you? Just another American who saw too many movies as a child? Another orphan of a bankrupt culture who thinks he’s John Wayne? Rambo? Marshal Dillon? 
        John McMario: Was-a always kinda partial-a to Roy Rogers actually. I really-a like-a those sequined shirts. 
        Hans Bauhser: Do you really think you have a chance against us, Mr. Cowboy? 
        John McMario: a-Yippee-a-ki-yay, mother-a-fucker. 

      • Cheese says:

        Now I have a Fire Flower. A-ho ho ho.

  15. Marijn Lems says:

    Well, in Fortune Street, Mario’s obliviously capitalist credentials were already firmly established:

  16. Effigy_Power says:

    So when you say that we don’t have a whole lot of information on Mario himself, I guess Mario-fans still don’t like to talk about that most excellent of game-movies, the masterwork of adaptation, featuring prolific actor and lovechild of the independent film-scene Bob Hoskins, energetic superstar John Leguizamo and film-legend Dennis Hopper, featuring that most divine of soundtracks, which ended up being such a darling of the criticsphere that it just begged for a reboot?
    You Mario fans still denying that ever happened?

    Sorry, I am just projecting my own fears of terrible game-adaptations into this… I just read about an Assassin’s Creed movie project and am shitting my pants here…

    • Cornell_University says:

      a snowplow on every police car, and all the fungus made of kings you can eat!


  17. Cornell_University says:

    I always interpretted Donkey Kong as the internal struggle of man seeking to rationalize his own existence.  a near endless, ultimately unwinnable cycle of raising oneself above the ugly, unfeeling architecture of a barren, capricious world.  finding security in chasing money, baubles, and the mirage of sexual conquest, confusing all these as some sort of spiritual fulfillment.  to soar to new heights!  to see new and wonderful things!  to dodge any object rolled at you, in your ascension to the Randian ideal.

    and right when you think you’ve got it all figured out and there’s no way you can lose, God kills you.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Your analysis made me think of a Sega Master System game box I put together based off of Nietzsche:

         It seemed pertinent. 

      • Cornell_University says:

        and don’t even get me started on its commentary on the duality of man, the desire to evolve into a higher identity VS. rape of the inner beast.  fight or flight?  both in fact.  high score for the lizard brain!

        no subtext they say!

      • Cornell_University says:

        oh and kindly make copies of that suitable for wall hanging so that I may buy every goddamn last one of them.

    • caspiancomic says:

        Honest to God legitimate question: does Kong represent the external
      force of nature, that Jumpman (as Man) must struggle against to claim
      his prize? Or does he represent the animal within, our own basest urges
      that must be conquered before we deserve whatever it is that we desire?

      Bonus, racially charged interpretation: Does Kong instead represent the
      Other, moving into our unfinished skyscrapers by the dozens and
      literally stealing our women?

      • Cornell_University says:

        All the world’s a stage,
        And all the men and women merely players:
        They have their exits and their entrances;
        And one man in his time plays many parts,
        His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
        Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
        And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
        And shining morning face, creeping like snail
        Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
        Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
        Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
        Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
        Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
        Seeking the bubble reputation
        Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
        In fair round belly with good capon lined,
        With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
        Full of wise saws and modern instances;
        And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
        Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
        With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
        His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
        For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
        Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
        And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
        That ends this strange eventful history,
        Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
        Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
        Also a gorilla throws barrels at you.

  18. Channel 8 News says:

    Reviews of Mario games that seriously criticize the lack of a plot really miss the mark. Nobody plays Mario games to see how the story turns out. A compelling and engrossing plot is not required for a great video game.

    This review only really illuminates what it’s like to actually play the game in passing, by mentioning that the game’s self-stylized ultimate goal, to collect a million coins, is more of a slog than an exciting benchmark.

    I think the points brought up in the article are good, and it’s definitely a discussion worth having. But I do not consider this to be a review of the game.

    • blue vodka lemonade says:

       The game plays like: nearly any other Mario game. It looks like: nearly any other Mario game. Etc. This review just skips the obvious statements and makes a few less-obvious ones.

    • Enkidum says:

      See John’s reply to a similar complaint above. That’s just how we roll here.

    • Afghamistam says:

      How is it possible to review in depth a game that is functionally identical to a game that came out 20 years ago?

      What would a real review of this game look like? “New Super Mario Bros 2 is exactly the same as Super Mario World except that here it’s really important to collect coins for some reason. Also there are different power ups and I don’t think Yoshi is in this one, but maybe he is, I dunno…”

  19. Link The Ecologist says:

    In response to the first paragraph, how much do we consider new offerings like Xenoblade and the Last Story to be Nintendo games?

    Also, I would consider the Fire Emblem series to be war games much more so than the call of duty series.

    Looking at the third party games that have been announced for the Wii U, I am hoping that (unlike with the Wii) Nintendo will be able to deliver on the needed subtext, but who knows if the mario and zelda games will ever be able to re-attain their heydays. (Yes, I remain firm in my commitment to have a nintendo system as my console system, for what reason I am not even sure anymore.) 

    • Marijn Lems says:

      “In response to the first paragraph, how much do we consider new offerings like Xenoblade and the Last Story to be Nintendo games?” We don’t, because they’re not: they’re third party games that happen to be exclusive to a Nintendo platform.Besides, the man did say “largely”.

      • ghettojourno says:

        Xenoblade Chronicles was developed by Monolith Soft, which has been a Nintendo 1st-party developer for 5 years. The Last Story was developed by 3rd-parties, but it is a Nintendo-owned property.

        Also in response to the initial paragraph, I think one can argue that the Metroid series (for the most part) is a “big-budget” articulation of loneliness.

        • Marijn Lems says:

          Whoops, sorry! I should have known this, because of course the whole Project Rainfall thing was directed at Nintendo, not at some other publisher. Wouldn’t Monolith Soft qualify as a second-party developer, though (like Naughty Dog is for Sony)?

        • ghettojourno says:

          Naughty Dog would’ve been considered 2nd-party until they were bought by Sony. Now, they are considered 1st-party.

      • GhaleonQ says:

        @ghettojourno:disqus While I’d push back on your general point, anyway (Monolith Soft is assisting with a Namco-published game right now, after all, and The Last Story has no discernible input from Nintendo), Marjin (I think) and I would dissent based on Scott’s specific comment.  RELATIVE TO MONOLITHSOFT’S OTHER GAMES, Xenoblade is much more simplistic.  RELATIVE TO LOST ODYSSEY, there is less subtext in The Last Story.

        I mean, Skip and Vanpool (sorry, Punchline) were making the same sort of game since Moon: Remix R.P.G. Adventure.  That Nintendo owns Chibi/Little Robo, Tingle, and Captain Rainbow makes little difference on the merits.  If anything, visions become more limited outside of gameplay concerns.

        • ghettojourno says:

          Yeah, Monolith Soft is working on Project X Zone, but that game is a melting pot of publishers and developers (Capcom, Sega, Namco, Banpresto, Monolith Soft). It doesn’t change MS’ position as a Nintendo developer.

          The Last Story’s scenario was changed (from a more sci-fi-ish story/setting to fantasy story/setting) because Nintendo didn’t like the original direction.

  20. duwease says:

    In the sub-dungeons of Reddit..

    SuperPlumber81: I’m doing it again.  She calls, and I ditch whatever I’m doing with my brother at the time, travel halfway around the world, and put everything at stake to go help her out.  For my effort I get, what, a kiss on the cheek?  Then six months later she’s back with him, and six months later I get another call.  It’s been going like this for as long as I can remember.  You’d think I’d learn..

    Xx-DA-GaMe-xX:  Bro, women only respect one thing — that bling.  Look at him, he’s got a castle, he’s a boss man, people do what he says.  He drives a friggin airship.  What are you riding these days, a dinosaur?  When was the last time you even did your job, or are you too busy making these cross-country trips??  You need to take care of your wallet first, and she’ll be all over you.

    SuperPlumber81:  You’re right, man.  I’m doing it this time.  Next time she calls, I’m gonna show up a million coins deep, that’ll show her. Thanks for the advice.

  21. Afghamistam says:

    Mario has debt. Saving princesses doesn’t pay bills.

  22. Anders says:

    You said: 
    Note: As of this writing, after a solid week of playing the game, I had 14,594 coins to my name.
    Well after half a day, with alot of pauses, i still got 25k you should play the game as it should be played before saying anything about this game..

  23. Baramos x says:

    To be fair, this was the motivating concern in Donkey Kong Kountry–the Kremlings stole DK’s banana hoard.

  24. Tyler J. Petty says:

    In other words, this game is like the original Wario Land for Game Boy, where you got a bigger house at the end if you collected enough coins.