Saturday, 19 May 2012

Ranting Time! My Thoughts on New Super Mario Bros. 2

Last week I finally got around to finishing and publishing my thoughts on Super Mario 3D Land in the form of a comprehensive review. I expressed my opinions that, while the game was highly enjoyable and boasted the same excellent presentation you find in most main Mario titles, it suffered from a severe lack of innovation, difficulty and length, even when going for 100% completion. Despite the latter two concerns, it was the borrowing of 3D Land's predecessors' elements that was the main let-down for me, but when a certain new Mario platformer heading to the 3DS this year was announced at a recent Nintendo Direct mini-conference, I flipped. If you want a poor analogy to describe my views on the pesky plumber's next handheld outing briefly, here you go: If Super Mario 3D Land was a joke, this is a very, very bad joke. Me and my analogies, eh?

Let's get one thing perfectly clear before I express the initial concerns I have with this title; I realise that we've only seen four screenshots of it, and that the game will properly be announced at this year's E3 conference. I'll also admit that the game certainly doesn't look bad. I may have bashed 3D Land for its frustrating flaws, but that didn't stop the game from being very fun to play, leading to me awarding it a respectable score of 79%. I fear that New Super Mario Bros. 2, at least judging from the four images we've seen of it, will suffer the same fate as my most recently reviewed Mario platformer, in that it looks like it's going to be another uninspired affair. Unfortunately, it seems, even moreso than the aforementioned 3DS title. Let's hark back to the history of the 2D Mario platformer, shall we? Each individual title since Super Mario Bros. on the NES revolutionised the concept and look in some way or another, with the possible exception of the up until recently Japan-exclusive we know as The Lost Levels. Doki Doki Panic makeover or not, the English version of Super Mario Bros. 2 was significantly different from the original game, and Super Mario Bros. 3 introduced so much that you'd be surprised at the fact it appeared on the NES. Super Mario World stretched out the formula of Super Mario Bros. 3 to new boundaries not possible on its previous console predecessor. New Super Mario Bros. on DS brought the 2D Mario platformer back after many years in limbo, making itself the killer app for the dinky handheld. And finally, New Super Mario Bros. Wii added multiplayer for the first time, as well as some great concepts and the best visuals ever seen in a 2D Mario game. The ridiculously named New Super Mario Bros. 2 just appears to be the DS game again, albeit with some concepts from Super Mario Bros. 3 implemented. I don't know about you, but I'm beginning to get a little sick of the Tanooki Suit...

Here's a challenge: see if you can spot anything new in this screenshot! Clue: There isn't anything new in this screenshot.
I wouldn't have as much of a problem with New Super Mario Bros. 2 if they had shown-off something brand-new at the games announcement, but alas, they didn't. Somehow, Nintendo had the cheek to unveil the game alongside four screenshots consisting of elements from New Super Mario Bros. on DS, with the addition of the Tanooki suit. It makes the 'New' in the title of the game utterly ironic, and not even in a hilarious way. Speaking of the title, why is it called New Super Mario Bros. 2? Surely they should've called it New Super Mario Bros. 3, or better yet New Super Mario Bros. 3D given it's the third in the semi-series. Just another rant-inducing gripe that the announcement imprinted into my skull. Even under close inspection there's absolutely nothing to speculate about the game so far, and while I'd be surprised if Nintendo didn't innovate in some way or another with this title (possibly with foreground-background elements like Donkey Kong Country Returns?) it's not exactly clever to unveil a game with nothing new to accompany it in the form of footage or screenshots. I would've been happier if the Big N hadn't shown any screenshots at all, at least then I'd be anticipating the game without any annoyance. Here's hoping that the obvious E3 announcement of New Super Mario Bros. 2 proves more interesting. Mario's latest platformer is coming in August on this year, which is the main reason for my rant. If a game is out in a matter of months and it seems that they don't have anything new to show of it, that's a bad sign. Regardless, we'll find out more next month...

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