For the first time in a while, we have a Community Review of a game I’ve actually had the time to play, so this is exciting for me! Please forgive me if I got a little overboard.
New Super Mario Bros. 2: there is nothing wrong with this game. Not really. The platforming is tight, the level design is fairly inventive. There’s variety in the visuals. On a fundamental, technical level New Super Mario Bros. 2 does everything right.
But it’s probably the least enjoyable Mario game I’ve ever played.
Before its release I had high hopes. Nintendo had a young team of new designers working on the game. Said team had even been put through a course teaching them precisely what a Mario game should be. According to Iwata asks, they had been taught those rules in order to break them — to recreate Mario, to find new inventive ways to subvert the template.
Well, that didn’t happen. Not even close.
This may border on hyperbole, but I believe I could probably play the first world of Mario blindfolded.
I’m on world 4 of New Super Mario Bros. 2 — I’ve legitimately seen rough 50% of what the game has to offer — and it feels as though I’m playing on auto-pilot, as though I’m being mindlessly dragged through a Gus Van Sant style shot for shot remake of a game I’ve already played multiple times. It felt as though my brain was being lulled to sleep — you could have switched out NSMB. 2 for its predecessor and I wouldn’t have noticed.
This new team was supposed to subvert the rules, but instead it followed them to the absolutely letter, to the point of sterility. New Super Mario Bros. 2 may actually be perfectly emblematic of the creative dead end Nintendo seems to have walked itself into.
Where is the endless invention of Super Mario Galaxy 2? Playing that game was an joyous, because each and every single level seemed to reinvent the fabric of the game itself — it created a surreal, constant shifting universe in which anything felt possible. That’s what made it so captivating. New Super Mario Bros. 2 captures zero amount of that spirit — the spirit of invention that the Mario series is supposed to embody.
And that’s a terrible, terrible shame.
Alright, I’ll get off my soapbox — what did you guys think of the game so far?