When "Super Mario 3D Land" released last year for Nintendo 3DS, it proved that Nintendo still "had it" when it came to putting their familiar plumber mascot in a thrilling adventure. Utilizing great 3D effects, hidden secrets aplenty and hours' worth of amusing gameplay, it was one of the bigger hits of the holiday season.
For its follow-up, "New Super Mario Bros. 2," Nintendo takes it back to the old school with the traditional 2D design that the series blossomed with on the old NES and Super NES. There are no magical 3D tricks this time around, just a series of new levels to explore, hidden coins to find and plenty of Bowser's minions to knock around. While that may seem like a step backward for some, the game is still smile-inducing.
[SEE ALSO: Hands on: Nintendo 3DS XL is Bigger and Better ]
When it comes to gameplay, a lot of retro tricks have made it into this game. The Tanooki suit that originally gave Mario flight in "Super Mario Bros. 3" has returned, along with underwater levels and boss fights through minion-laden castles.
But Nintendo did add something new to the design with a huge emphasis on coin collection. You'll bop blocks, find hidden coin stashes and even wear a box on your head that multiplies your value for a few precious seconds. This ties in to the game's newly introduced "Coin Rush" mode, where you compete against others online to collect as many coins as possible across three random levels. It's a great competitive feature that will keep pros coming back for more…even as they run out of time.
That said, there is one feature that didn't work so well this time around: co-op mode. Here, you can team up with a friend to complete levels, collecting coins and defeating enemies. It's a novel idea, but the execution is questionable. The main problem is that the camera focuses entirely on Mario, so whoever plays his brother Luigi is left losing his player on the screen pretty often. You're better off either going at it on your own or finding a player who can definitely keep up.
Even though it's not as technical as "3D Land," "New Super Mario Bros. 2" is pleasing to the eyes. The classic 2D design, despite its age, really sparkles on the Nintendo 3DS screen, and the animations are cute, especially when Mario cheers after completing a level. The music is novel too, taking cues from classic games, yet remixing them to sound like they belong in a current game release.
Though its aged set-up and poorly implemented co-op keep it from reaching the level of "3D Land," "New Super Mario Bros. 2" is still a fun, traditional romp with the plumber. And we never get tired of that.
RATING: 3 / 4