How New Super Mario Bros. 2 is Different – A Review

New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a side-scrolling platforming game made by Nintendo for the Nintendo 3DS platform. The game was released in the year 2012: July 28th in Japan, August 17th in Europe, and August 19th in North America. The game has been rated CERO A, ESRB E, and PEGI 3; it contains little objectionable content and should be suitable for all ages.


The bulk of this review will be done in three parts:

  • Content will contain basic information about the game including an overview of its features. This is for getting the basic details of the game; if you already know how the game works, you may wish to skip this part.
  • Analysis will go deeper into the facts and contain some personal insights into the game. This is for getting deeper information as to how the game works. However, this is typically the most optional part of the review and can be generally skipped. This review is however different.
  • Thoughts will give overall impressions of the games including the high and low points of the game. This is the core the review and makes the main section of this article. If nothing else, this is the part to read.

There is also a Statistics section afterwards, which will give information such as the amount of the game played prior to doing the review.

Different from the other review using this format, the analysis section is the main section of this review.


New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a side-scrolling platforming game made by Nintendo for the Nintendo 3DS platform. The game was released in the year 2012: July 28th in Japan, August 17th in Europe, and August 19th in North America. The game has been rated CERO A, ESRB E, and PEGI 3; it contains little objectionable content and should be suitable for all ages.


The gameplay is typical of Super Mario games, or more precisely, similar to other games of the New Super Mario Bros. series. The basic gameplay involves running and jumping around various obstacles across various levels, sometimes gaining powerups which change what Mario can do.

There are two control options, both uses either the Circle or Directional Pad for movement. Type 1 uses X/Y buttons to run and A/B to jump, while Type 2 uses Y/B to run and X/A to jump. The first emulates more of a SNES-style of platformers while the second is more similar to the NES.

The game features a number of power-ups, many from existing Super Mario games and most allow Mario to take another hit.

  • Super Mushroom – Makes Mario bigger from the small Mario state, allowing him to take another hit. In his enlarged form, Mario can break brick blocks that small Mario cannot.
    • Mini Mushroom – This power-up from the original New Super Mario Bros. turns Mario into Mini Mario allowing him to go into tight spaces, jump in a floaty way, and run on water. However, Mario is gone in a single hit while using this power-up, unlike others.
    • Mega Mushroom – Returning from the original New Super Mario Bros., the Mega Mushroom turns Mario into an invincible Mega Mario, who can bust through obstacles with ease. However, it only lasts a certain amount of time.
  • Fire Flower – Turns Mario into Fire Mario who can shoot fireballs with the press of the run button. Enemies hit by the fireball drop coins, although the number gotten is less than with the Gold Mario.
    • Gold Flower – New to New Super Mario Bros. 2, this special version of the Fire Flower turns Mario into Gold Mario, who’s shots now turn blocks and enemies into coins. Jumping on enemies also yield coins. This power is lost at the completion of a stage as Mario reverts to Fire Mario.
  • Super Leaf – Originally from Super Mario Bros. 3, this power-up turns Mario into Raccoon Mario who can fly for a short period of time by first running long enough to fill a P-meter then jumping. The run button in this form causes Mario to swipe his tail at enemies, and holding the jump button while in mid-air slows his descent.
    • Invincibility Leaf – From Super Mario 3D Land, this appears when you’ve failed a level five times and can power Mario up into White Raccoon Mario. This is similar to an invincible Raccoon Mario, although the P-meter also fills up much quicker.

While, like other Mario games, each level has a variety of different elements, there’s a few new elements that reoccur often. The first is the gold block, which comes from a 10-coin block if you hit it enough. The gold block attaches to Mario’s head which provides coins for Mario as he moves around until it runs out or Mario gets hit. Another is the gold ring, which gets the enemies to help Mario by giving coins in various ways for a limited time.

How New Super Mario Bros. 2 is different

Although few specific elements that are new to New Super Mario Bros. 2 makes a distinct experience, the philosophy behind the design of NSMB2 makes it among the most unique experiences the Super Mario platformer series has to offer.

Mini-Challenges for Coins

This comes from the coin collecting focus of the game. Unlike other Super Mario games where the focus is simply challenges that’s in the way of getting Mario from the start to the goal, the focus is instead on numerous diversions from the traditional main goal, as well as skill tests along the main path that gives extra coins.

These challenges are enhanced by a running timer for all stages, reduced for the Coin Rush versions. This adds pressure to the player’s actions as well as adding an element of planning while keeping the game running at a quick pace. The player can’t simply try the mini-challenge over and over again until they succeed in an individual run; they must find the challenges that are appropriate for their skill level to achieve results with consistency. They can then attempt more or greater challenges as they improve, giving a clear path for game skill progression.

This focus on having a number of small skill challenges within each stage that rewards coins provides numerous play variety within each stage. It also gives each stage high density of play elements, rewarding skilled play and giving many avenues for improvement. It’s a simple thing that provides many things; in the end it gives NSMB2 a very unique feel among Mario games.

By play element density, I refer to the density of interactable elements such as enemies, coins, blocks, power ups, and platforms. The nature of the game makes even empty space a play element, by hiding many secrets in what seems like empty air. These play elements are so densely packed so that the player isn’t doing any single thing for too long; it requires the player to constantly look, run, and jump in many different directions. NSMB2 is more focused on high-density stages rather than low-density stages. While low-density stages do have benefits, as there is more space to run around and can help with more high-speed play as well as giving more focus to a single obstacle at a time, high-density helps keep NSMB2‘s Raccoon Mario in check, giving restrictions as to when and how the flying ability can be used.

With its high number of secrets and mini-challenges, the game is also very efficient in rewarding the player for finding the secrets and clearing the challenges. Coins simply appear out of nowhere as a reward keeping the game’s pace quick. The game’s timed nature requires that completing and being rewarded from the secrets and mini-challenges be quick, and it delivers that well.


The flying ability in NSMB2 has been crafted in a careful manner. As the player requires running space in order to fly as Raccoon Mario, this space has been very specifically allowed. Although there is plenty of places in most stages where Mario can fly, these areas are carefully placed so that the player can’t often skip large sections of the level by simply flying over them. However, the added mobility that the flight gives can often also be used for great effect. Both the running and flying mechanics comes together to allow a great deal of control and allows added skill to accomplish much more with Raccoon Mario, while at the same time keeping it from becoming overly useful in skipping too many level elements. These mechanics feel to come together better than any other Mario game.

The Fire Flower acts as the game’s primary “combat” power-up(while the Super Leaf is the game’s primary “mobility” power-up). Its creating coins by defeating enemies gives it a place within the game’s general coin-collecting theme. Although that helps, the big advantage it gives the player is the ability to go through enemies quickly and to activate the special Fire Flower-activated pipes, which can give additional coins.

The game balances the two main power-ups well; both the Fire Flower and Super Leaf are useful in a variety of levels, ensured by the game’s tight level design. It gives the overall game focus and makes the player familiarize themselves with these two power-ups. Although the focus on these two power-ups may make the game seem a little dull in terms of variety, the same focus allows these power-ups to be exploited more than any other in a Mario game.

NSMB2 is a highly technical game, focused on the playing skill of platform games. It offers a low skill floor and high skill ceiling and a pathway between. Its high density and large number of secrets allows for a variety of ways to play. There appears to be a high degree of craftsmanship in each of the stages, each play element and empty space appears to be there for a reason and precisely spaced.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 doesn’t appear to offer much that many other Mario games don’t at first. You still jump around, pick up power-ups, and run to the goal. If you’ve enjoyed the previous New Super Mario Bros. games, then there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this one too. If you’re looking for something different, there’s much changed under the surface if you’re willing to invest in it.

The new coin focus as well as the coin rush mode offers a different style of play compared to previous games while still allowing play typical of a 2D Mario platformer. There’s a great focus on skill challenges here for those interested, and allows competing with others via Streetpass coin rush.

While the main game already has plenty of meat with over 80 stages, it can be extended further through AOC which includes 3 stages in a Coin Rush course. It costs $2.50 per course in North America at the time of this writing and each provides a good deal of replayability. They have so far come in three varieties: Easier coin-grabbing courses, medium difficulty courses with online high score tables which provides a high skill ceiling for those who want to improve, and a high-difficulty course which can be rather difficult to just clear. Each provides a different type of play for different audiences.

While it might not be as flashy as some other Mario games, NSMB2 does things very technically well. The visuals are sharp and colourful, sound is responsive, and the stages are very tightly made and designed. Simple game completion holds little surprises in this instalment, but the game can be rewarding for those who dig deeper.


The author has played the game for approximately 30 hours according to the activity log. She has gotten all five stars, shiny, but only around 400k coins.

The author bought the game with her own money for 39.99 Canadian Dollars plus tax(totalling $45.19) from the eShop.

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One Comment to How New Super Mario Bros. 2 is Different – A Review
  1. Guek
    • Guek
    • Meant to compliment you on this review awhile ago, meo. Very well done :-)

      I always like it when you go all fancy on us too with the layout.

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