30 Ways that New Super Mario Bros 2 could have been Improve; How the mediocre game could have been great

New Super Mario Bros 2 may have been a decent enough title, but it lacked ambition. The game was designed in a way that involved playing the whole thing too safe, the gold theme wasn’t used to its full potential and the amount of new content in the game was quite honestly close to zero.

So here are some ways Nintendo could have made the game more interesting. They’re split among multiple lists covering different parts of the game, but all in all the number of items does add up to 30. Oh, and if Nintendo themselves read this, feel free to add anything below in as downloadable content, since I’m fairly sure most people would appreciate it.


1. Coins actually having a purpose/meaning in the game

This would partly tie into the whole million coin reward thing, but there’s actually quite a bit more to it than that.

I mean, at the moment, what exactly do coins really do in this game? You don’t unlock any levels or worlds or secrets with them. The Gold Flower is fun, but it’s basically just a novelty with no in story purpose.

Nintendo should have made them open something or at least factor into the plot somehow, since it currently just feels like New Super Mario Bros Wii with a random coin theme thrown in.

2. Wario having a role

Not sure what the role would be, although playable character would be the best bet. Maybe have it so once you beat the game you unlock a few Wario Land/Ware themed areas to charge through as Mario and in coin rush. Because hey, who wouldn’t want to go charging through Kitchen Island, the Music Box World and the Wario Land 4 levels as Gold Mario and have fun blasting Wario’s enemies into money?

Or have Wario physically beating up the Koopalings with his shoulder barge. Especially neat against Roy Koopa, given he uses the same attack, right?

Really though, a game based all around gold and money without Wario even being present is quite honestly ridiculous, and shows the complete lack of care and effort put into some of these New Super Mario Bros games.

3. A real million coin reward

At the moment, do you know what you get for a million coins? A statue of Mario on the title screen. For max coins? A Raccoon Mario statue on the title screen.

That’s freaking pathetic for something so hyped up by Nintendo as a reward. And it’s not even like an alternative would have to mean a new character or levels, even something simple as a gesture like ‘you unlock a rainbow pack for coin rush’ (playing the rainbow levels in coin rush) or ‘you unlock a shop which lets you hold a Mega Mushroom in your inventory’. Both of those rewards would have at least been something decent and worthwhile in game, and the latter would have been pretty fun to use (imagine going back to all your favourite and least favourite levels and smashing them up New Super Mario Bros 1 style!)

Maybe the latter reward could have been worked into the final battle, so that if you go against giant Bowser as Mega Mario you just have to punch him down without the whole lava chase bit. That would have been fun, and made the player feel powerful.

Just anything more than a statue would have been good.

4. A plot twist that makes it more interesting than ‘Bowser captured Peach again’

No idea what, but something truly unexpected. Like Wario showing up. Or Bowser going all galactic conqueror out of nowhere. Or a new villain shows up as responsible for the Gold Flower and coin themes in the game.

Just something to make it more than a ‘Bowser kidnaps Peach for the millionth time’ story. Wouldn’t that have been good?


1. Different music from New Super Mario Bros Wii

Admittedly, there is some new music in the game and it’s pretty good. Like the Star World theme or the remix of the SMW boss battle theme:

But there’s not enough. Did they really need to use the same tower theme again? Same ghost house and castle theme? Same grass land, desert, water, etc themes? Even the final boss theme is the same as the one in New Super Mario Bros Wii, which is a disappointment.

Nintendo should have changed more of the music. Simple as that.

2. Different world themes from the ones present in most Mario games

Like how in New Super Mario Bros U we’ve got this cake and ice cream themed desert and a world surrounded by a tornado, or how in the Super Mario Galaxy games we had all these clever galaxy designs that did things like mix ice and fire themes in an imaginative way.

Yet theme wise, New Super Mario Bros 2 is lazy as hell. Oh yay, the exact same themes as earlier games except the forest and beach and sky and mountain worlds are mixed together! And what about those special worlds eh? No theme at all and a dull presentation that shouts ‘thrown together in minutes’ (graphics at least). The game should be introducing new areas of the Mushroom World with new level themes and new concepts, not just recycling the same stuff that has been done to death ever since Super Mario Bros 3.

3. More than nine worlds

After Super Mario 3D Land, what was New Super Mario Bros 2’s excuse for just 9 again? Seems like a few more could have at least differentiated this game from the DS and Wii installments, right?

4. New enemies

Because while a few more nostalgic throwbacks are nice, New Super Mario Bros 2 basically introduced no new enemies or characters whatsoever. Oh, we got a new type of Boo which fills up half the screen (and acts as a half thinking wall of lava), a few undead versions of common enemies like Goombas and Piranha Plants and some smaller versions of Urchins which act the exact same as the bigger ones.

Is this really what Nintendo considers an acceptable amount of new characters to introduce in a new game? Because to be perfectly honest, it’s not that much more than was in the Lost Levels, to the point New Super Mario Bros 2 feels like the Lost Levels to the DS original.

They should have added more new enemies, simple as.

5. New items and power ups (not Gold Flower)

And I’m not counting that, because for however cool the item is, it’s basically just a more powerful Fire Flower with a different colour scheme.

No, New Super Mario Bros 2 should have introduced new power ups, like how the Wii game brought us the Propeller and Penguin Suits or the Wii U game is bringing the Flying Squirrel Suit. Oh, it doesn’t fit in with the gold theme?

Who cares? The gold theme isn’t really that much of a big thing in New Super Mario Bros 2, about 90% of the game seems to have been designed with coin collecting as merely an afterthought. What would a new power up change there?

Nothing. But it would have made the game more interesting for long time Mario fans.

6. Rideable Yoshi

Yeah, I know it’s meant to be more like the DS game than the Wii one, but with Yoshi being in most other Mario games in recent history and going to be in the Wii U game, why leave him out of this one? It was bad enough he was absent in 3D Land, but New Super Mario Bros 2 as well?

7. Mini Games like in New Super Mario Bros DS

Remember games like Whack a Monty and Danger Bob-omb Danger? Those were actually pretty fun as a diversion, and it’s kind of disappointing that New Super Mario Bros 2 didn’t either bring back the same mini games or make a few more that use the capabilities of the 3DS fully. Wouldn’t absolutely anything to extend replay value have been good for this game?

8. Vs Mode like in New Super Mario Bros DS

Or even like the one mode in the Wii game, I think it was all about collecting coins in edited versions of levels in multiplayer, which would have been perfect for this game given the whole gold theme.

Again, the game seriously lacks in replay value, and a couple more modes like this could have kept people’s interest just that bit longer.

9. Co-op with free camera system

Now unlike some people, I can sort of see why Nintendo used in the New Super Mario Bros Wii camera system rather than the more logical dual camera one, it helps keep players together and to a degree stops it from becoming an adventure which the two Mario Bros just happen to be on rather than one where they’re actually helping each other.

But is the latter really a bad idea? I don’t think so. Imagine how neat it’d be to have an adventure where the two Mario bros are journeying through the land seperately and just happen to meet at unexpected points in time. Maybe it could be like how the hunters worked in Metroid Prime Hunters, where you’d enter a room and find that one of your rivals got there first and is trying to kill you.

Imagine something like that (obviously without the killing each other part) in New Super Mario Bros 2. You’d enter a level and find a deserted wasteland due to the other player having already killed most of the bad guys roaming about. Blocks would be empty and devoid of coins and items, the money would be gone. All in all, it’d be a depressing atmosphere that’d make for an interesting ‘gimmick’. Or imagine playing a castle level and coming across an empty boss room with just a path to the flag pole, the boss having been taken care of by the last guy to come through.

It could even lead to some unique challenges, like if when player 1 reaches the flagpole, player 2 has just 50 seconds to get to the end of the level or have the level destroyed with them in it. Maybe the timer is the time until Bowser launches an airstrike on the level and the last person to enter has to run like mad before they get blown to smithereens by the attack. It could make for an interesting take on the traditional Super Mario Bros formula, especially if the result of entering an ended level is akin to what happens in certain stories with the heroes trapped in a past about to get erased by the passage of time (with the enemies and obstacles frozen in place in the state they were in when player 1 reached the flagpole).

And that’s not even getting into what the world map structure could allow. Imagine finding out the other player took a cannon shortcut and arrived at a later level before you did normally, or something similar. Imagine meeting up at Bowser’s Castle and finding out player 1 had been through worlds 1-5 and player 2 had been through worlds 1, Mushroom and Flower.

10. Online multiplayer

May have actually gave us people who don’t know many other 3DS owners a way to actually try co-op, since it’s likely never going to be possible for many people given how it’s currently set up.

Not to mention, it’s 2012 for God’s sake. Isn’t online multiplayer expected by now?

Why didn’t Nintendo bother to add it in?

Boss Battles

1. More interesting/unique Bowser battle

Because let’s face it, the current one is basically just a toned down version of the final battle from New Super Mario Bros Wii and far less interesting than the final boss fights seen previously in the Mario series.

Maybe Bowser should have grabbed a Gold Flower and started using its powers against Mario and Luigi? That could have been a nice twist on the final battle formula, having Bowser turn into gold and try to turn poor Mario into coins.

2. Different Dry Bowser battle

But even if you liked the original Giant Bowser battle with the three moving platforms and him trying to swat down Mario from the background, reusing it with a graphics change for the secret fight with Dry Bowser was a joke. Secret bosses aren’t meant to be the same as the final one, they’re meant to have new attack patterns and give you something new to master! Look at the ones in Donkey Kong Country 2 and 3, those are real true final bosses:

Note how both of those had a brilliantly designed final boss room which wasn’t the same as the one used for the standard final battle. How the latter had a completely new strategy involving you throwing barrels into the air conditioning and hitting him in the distance. And how both of them had a new ending once you won.

That’s how the Dry Bowser battle should have been.

3. More original Koopaling bosses

True, Roy, Morton, Ludwig and maybe Larry had a different attack pattern to in New Super Mario Bros Wii, but it still didn’t excuse how the battles with Wendy, Iggy and Lemmy were basically identical to their New Super Mario Bros Wii counterparts.

Ideally, this should have been changed and all the Koopalings given a unique attack pattern only found in this game.

4. Kamek’s magic effects

Remember how in the Wii game Kamek would fly in and make each boss battle more challenging? He’d either make the room itself start moving, upgrade the Koopalings attacks somehow, etc.

In this game though, while there are some gimmicks here and there, the bosses seem very… traditional. Very plain to be honest, without much in the way of gimmicks to keep the battles interesting. So Kamek should have been in upgrading the Koopalings and their battle arenas to make things better. Hell, maybe even powering up Reznor somehow, you know he needs it.

5. Bosses other than Koopalings, Bowser and Reznor (Bowser Jr, Boom Boom and Kamek)

Then you’ve got this problem, the only bosses are basically Reznor, Koopalings, Bowser and Bowser’s clon… no Dry Bowser. It’s a bit varied I suppose, but I definitely miss how in NSMB Wii you’d sometimes fight Bowser Jr on an airship or have Kamek show up as a boss in the world 8 tower/fortress.

We needed that here too. At least having a different boss show up on an airship inbetween worlds would have kept the game more interesting than it is with just Koopalings and Reznor for most of the game.

6. New ending after beating Dry Bowser

See what I said for a different Dry Bowser battle. For it to just end like a normal level without even a pat on the back to say you beat Dry Bowser is a complete and utter let down. It’s not the first time Nintendo made this mistake (the secret 16th world in Super Mario 3D Land didn’t even have an alternate final boss), but considering how they went to at least some of the effort of making a secret boss, you’d think they’d add in a proper reward for people who beat him.


1. The Ice Flower and either Penguin Suit or Blue Shell should have returned

The former because it’s a fun item which had plenty of uses in the Wii game, and one of the latter because it was entertaining to charge through a level at high speed without stopping.

Not to mention, it made Mario move faster in water. Wouldn’t that have been conveniant in this game, where the water levels seemed to drag on and on?

Really, the lack of these items kind of held the game back from its full potential, and they should have definitely been included.

2. Items being actually useful in more levels

How many times do you seriously need a Mega Mushroom again?


And a Mini Mushroom? Maybe two or three times?

With the exception of the Raccoon Leaf and flight, nearly all the power ups in this game are basically useless in normal levels. Okay, maybe once in a blue moon you’ll find a bonus room only accessible with a Mini Mushroom or Gold Flower, like those in many towers or underwater levels, but for the most part all these items may as well have not been there.

Heck, you can’t even get a Mega Mushroom in your inventory any more!

What Nintendo should have done is to make items useful. Make it so many different levels had things that required certain items to get, or a few more bonus rooms making use of rarely used power ups. Because at present, the items in New Super Mario Bros 2 are woefully underused.

Coin Rush

1. Individual records for each pack

No idea who decided that players should be limited to a single score across all the different coin packs (and oh boy this might get even worse when the rumoured DLC starts coming out), but it was a bad idea and one that should have been immediately scrapped.

Just have different records for each coin pack, and Bob’s your uncle. Maybe then have the ability to choose whether you send people you StreetPass with one record or all three as well, that could be nice to have.

2. Actual online leaderboards with records for each pack

An obvious addition this one, since at present you don’t have a clue what the best scores in coin rush were for any of the packs. Did people manage to get 30 000 coins in the Flower and Star packs? What levels were the best ones to play for those people who don’t want to spam either 2-4 or Mushroom 1 over and over?

As it is now, you don’t know, and quite honestly likely never will. Sure someone might set up an official website about the topic or something and start recording records, but that doesn’t count the many thousands if not millions of players who don’t use internet forums or send their scores to whatever fan made leaderboards happen to exist. For all we know, some of these people could be Mario pros good enough to hold the world records, but thanks to a lack of coin rush leaderboards, it’s now impossible to know.

3. Ghosts for playthroughs

And if you don’t know exactly why this would be useful, try playing coin rush against some random strangers score you downloaded via StreetPass. You just don’t know what their original strategy was to get their current score, whether they found some neat trick or combo that allows for thousands of coins in a level or exactly what they did.

Combine this with the leaderboards, and imagine just what neat tricks people would find out from the world champions!

4. Expert Staff Ghosts to challenge

This is another obvious addition as well, and one taken straight from games like Mario Kart and F-Zero. So how about some staff ghosts for the coin rush packs in this game like the ones found in Mario Kart 7’s time trial mode? With this, not only could players see all kinds of clever strategies Nintendo employees have found to do even better, but they could try and challenge someone else’s score despite not living in an area with anyone to StreetPass with.

5. No 30 000 coin cap

Because any kind of cap on coins places a skill ceiling and completely limits the whole competitive aspect of New Super Mario Bros 2’s coin rush mode. Imagine how annoyed people would be if real life sports limited the score teams could get because the judges couldn’t be bothered to count any higher, or if Mario Kart simply said ‘okay then, this is the best possible time, so there’s no point in recording any times better than it’.

The concept of a cap on a mode based around competion and skill is a terrible one, and the 30 000 coin cap should never have been included in this game.

6. Fundamental Level design changes to certain levels

Simply put, some of them don’t work and many others just don’t seem to have enough coins or bonuses by default to make them good candidates for coin rush mode. So why not just redo these levels a bit for coin rush and add in things that make them more interesting to play? Some good examples of levels which need this are:

World 4 Ghost House: The boo walls completely slow down the gameplay and limit Mario’s movement, and if you mess up even once at the beginning you just will not have enough time to complete the level. Nintendo should have added at least one 50 second adding clock at the start of the section with the moving Boo walls, and they should have done the same for every other level with auto scrolling.

World 3 Tower: The auto scrolling and slow moving blocks and spikes mean that there’s no real strategy to be had here, you can’t go any faster, you can’t really take any risks and you’re 100% limited by how the developers want you to proceed. Nintendo should probably have at least completely eliminated the vertical auto scrolling altogether due to how boring it makes the level.

World 5 Tower: The rising lava isn’t too bad here, but the fact is that there’s no real secrets or bonuses at all in the level, so the whole thing becomes a game of memorisation after the first play through. Not to mention the one Mini Mario pipe is unusable if the levels before were chosen poorly by the randomisation feature. Nintendo should have added a Mini Mushroom to the level and maybe added some more coins and Gold Mushroom blocks in general.

World 6 Ghost House: Has practically nothing interesting in it, and is a maze which gets old after the first time round. Nintendo should have redone some of the level by adding some more bonuses and redesigning some rooms, since the current level just isn’t very fun to play through.

7. Bowser’s Castle and Dry Bowser’s Castle as playable coin rush levels

Honestly, the fact they’re not already is just pure laziness on Nintendo’s part (and don’t they dare sell them to us as DLC!) All that would have had to be done would be to remove whatever sets off the ending after the giant Bowser battle, adding a few extra time clocks throughout the Koopaling room and final battle and perhaps adding some more coins to make it more interesting.

8. All Gold option

Finally, there’s this idea. You know how at present you get a choice between either using normal Mario with a Gold Flower or White Raccoon Mario?

Well wouldn’t it be neat if Nintendo had a choice to let you play as Gold Mario for all three levels. Yes it’d break the game a bit, but you have to admit it’d interesting to see what kind of strategies people would come up with involving the Gold Flower in all three levels.

It’s an option that makes Coin Rush easier, but I think it’d also make it a lot more fun, as well as give experts some new tools to use to get the perfect amount of coins.

If those 30 things listed above had been in New Super Mario Bros 2, I’m sure people would have given the game a far warmer welcome, better reviews and better sales.  Maybe people might have even bought the 3DS just for this one game, which was probably what Nintendo were betting on with the announcement of a New Super Mario Bros game for the system.


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Daizo Dee Von
Daizo Dee Von
7 years ago

I completely agree with you on the whole “ice flower/shell/penguin” thing. I think that having Wario and Waluigi playable will be also great, I mean How many games (Aside form the Party games) do you actually get to use Waluigi? and What about Daisy? I know she has to mention her name every 5 seconds in the kart games but I think she would be a really great character to play with on a normal mario game. I think they should make a game were you get to choose as Mario Luigi, Wario Waluigi and Daisy so we can have… Read more »

z dash 9ner 9
z dash 9ner 9
6 years ago

i agree especially about riding yoshi and im just over 800 thousand coins

z dash 9ner 9
z dash 9ner 9
6 years ago



[…] If those 30 things listed above had been in New Super Mario Bros 2, I’m sure people would have given the game a far warmer welcome, better reviews and better sales.  Maybe people might have even bought the 3DS just for this one game, which was probably what Nintendo were betting on with the announcement of a New Super Mario Bros game for the system.(source:nintendo3dsdaily) […]

4 years ago

Hi. I really liked this. I agree that coins should have a meaning! I wish they could unlock some other special world, probably a crown world, and another coin rush pack called the crown pack (unlocked by 1,000,000 coins and beat dry bowser, not dlc)

These additions would have been cool! Right?