New Super Mario Bros 2 review

  • Hours of new Mario fun
  • Challenges players in exciting new ways
  • Brings back well-loved powers and enemies
  • The formula is getting too familiar
  • The quest for a million coins is ultimately unfulfilling
  • Even with 9 worlds and dozens of levels, it isn’t deep enough

In 2006, New Super Mario Bros was quite the novelty. Back then, it had been over a decade since the last 2D Mario game, and it was warmly received on Nintendo DS. Compare that fanfare to today’s gaming landscape, in which New Super Mario Bros is now one of Nintendo’s best-selling franchises. The series is so ubiquitous that a sequel needs to be more than just another retro-flavored platformer to deliver something special. New Super Mario Bros 2 offers up some interesting new techniques -- most of which involve collecting thousands of coins -- but it plays things too safe, and ultimately falls short of its pedigree.

As is the custom, all the trouble starts when Princess Peach is kidnapped by Bowser and his Koopalings, sending Mario and Luigi into action. The gameplay that defined a genre is intact, as are the themed worlds to explore. The Desert, Ice and Lava Worlds are all there, laid out in a similar fashion that all build to a boss fight against a Koopa Kid, and of course, a victory sends you to the next world. The whole package is still entertaining on a primal level, but it’s also becoming very predictable.

NSMB2’s big new addition is a heavy emphasis on collecting coins. Increasing your score to earn bonuses has always been a part of the franchise and the genre in general, but NSMB2 expands on it like never before in Mario history. Coins aren’t merely for gathering 100 to earn an extra life, this one keeps track of every coin you pick up, and the ultimate goal is to reach a million. NSMB2 attempts a philosophical shift in one of the core ideas of Mario and for much of the game it succeeds.

For years, the life counter in Mario games has continued to lose meaning. The early Mario titles made each life count by withholding continues or penalizing your progress in some way, but in contemporary Mario titles, those penalties have been missing. Your collection of lives became essentially meaningless, making coins even more pointless. By increasing the overall importance of coins and making it much more than collecting an extra life, coins can again be used as incentive to challenge the player more in each new stage. Theoretically this makes NSMB2 the toughest Mario in some time, but the challenge is only there if you want it.

NSMB’s coin placement throughout the stages keeps pushing you to try new things, attack enemies you’d otherwise avoid, and search for more secrets. It becomes a tool for the developers to direct casual Mario fans into more high level play, but takes it easier on them by making it mostly optional. Even with this casual inclusion, NSMB2 challenges experienced players in a way the New Super Mario Bros franchise failed to do so far. If you think all of the games in the series are made for Grandma, this sequel will change your mind.

More Info

Release date: Aug 19 2012 - 3DS (US)
Available Platforms: 3DS
Genre: Action
Published by: Nintendo
Franchise: Mario
ESRB Rating:
Everyone: Comic Mischief


Mario Nintendo


  • archnite - August 1, 2012 6:53 p.m.

    Curiousity is just killing my cat over here. What does 1 million coins get you?
  • GR HollanderCooper - August 1, 2012 7:07 p.m.

    Google it, it's... yeah.
  • Hobogonigal - August 2, 2012 1:37 a.m.

    Just looked, all I have to say is :(
  • Redeater - August 1, 2012 7:48 p.m.

    Nintendo is getting notoriously stingy as of late. It was bad enough when they didn't include the triple jump for SM64 DS but this is just ridiculous.
  • spunXtain - August 1, 2012 6:53 p.m.

  • SouthTippBass - August 1, 2012 6:59 p.m.

    I am so sick of Mario games right now, the guys needs to take a break for a while. Like for 10 years. Fat chance of that happening with WiiU around the corner. Consider this franchise.... milked.
  • Darkhawk - August 1, 2012 7:37 p.m.

    I hereby bestow 1,000,000 coins on Gamesradar for including a Video Review. Keep it up!
  • GR_SophiaTong - August 1, 2012 9:47 p.m.

    coming soon! (check back tomorrow)
  • Redeater - August 1, 2012 7:44 p.m.

    ......well.....I'll always have my SMB 3 NES cartridge I suppose.
  • ncurry2 - August 1, 2012 8:35 p.m.

    I can see how the NSMB thing is getting a bit stale. I was hoping this one would be the best though since I have almost no faith in the WiiU one. I'm hoping they're done with NSMB games for a while and focus on the next 3D console release.
  • larkan - August 1, 2012 9:33 p.m.

    I still remember getting up an hour before school to attempt the last star in Mario 64, and it was a sky level 100 coins. It took me two weeks to get it, but it felt sooooo good when I did.
  • ChaosEternal - August 2, 2012 8:35 a.m.

    Was it Rainbow Ride, because that was the last star I got! Rainbow Ride 100 coins. That was back in 2007, after playing the game for 6 years. Heh, I got the game when I was 4 or 5, so my parents would get stars for me late at night, until I was old enough to do it myself. Then I got the remaining 39 starts when I was older. I was so happy when I finally did it. :D
  • asayur - August 16, 2012 8:26 a.m.

    Wow, this is a very cool story, your parents are great :D
  • Hobogonigal - August 2, 2012 1:36 a.m.

    Regarding the short length, it seems like it didn't take Nintendo long to understand how to use DLC... I will still pick this up when it releases, I have been interested in it as soon as I heard about it due to the coin rush mode.
  • AuthorityFigure - August 2, 2012 2:02 a.m.

    I thought the DS one stank, so I avoided the Wii one - and so here we are...
  • shawksta - August 8, 2012 1:15 p.m.

    This is just my personal opinion but I thought the Wii Version is the superior one, better level design, cool new suits, the mini mushroom is WAY more useful and used in more ways than the handheld variants, the Koopalings were fun and awesome and the star world was brutal. I still think of this now, sure, NSMB2 is hard and a traditionally good but for me it's a staller till U comes out which will more likely expand what the Wii did.
  • tehtimeisnow - August 2, 2012 4:20 a.m.

    ha ah i new this game would b garbege cuz nitedno keeps getting away with makeing the same stuped e rated games every single year and fanbabys keep bying it seruoisely this is like the 500th sequal to mario alredy and there the same game it should b illegal ha ah no thanks i play games on ipad and xobx wear i get good new origanal games that dont suck like this one
  • Burdmayn - August 2, 2012 5:50 a.m.

    Oh Mai u maek mi sew mad!
  • RandyBobandy - August 3, 2012 5:54 a.m.

    Learn how to spell first before you give a biased rant.
  • Racing1972 - August 2, 2012 7:20 a.m.

    Sounds great - my wife is drooling at the thought!!

Showing 1-20 of 27 comments

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