New Super Mario Bros 2; Thoughts on Coin Rush Mode

You know, that major new feature Nintendo was promoting that has you racing through three ‘random’ levels and getting as many coins as possible?  Well I’ve tried it just now, and I have to say I’m not particularly impressed by it.

For one thing, a lot of the levels just weren’t designed to be raced through at high speed, unfairly penalising anyway lumbered with a level plain unsuitable for coin rush in general.  For instance, do you know some of the levels I got when trying the game?

Flower B, which is mostly centered around staying on a moving platform and avoiding the enemies and blocks that very slowly come to you.

World 3 tower, an entirely underwater level where you’ve got to slowly avoid moving walls and giant spiked pillars smashing together while swimming upwards.

This + time limit = bad news.

World 5 castle, the one where Mario or Luigi have to move around on moving climbing nets, punching them to switch them between the high and low tracks…

Yeah.  None of those seem suitable for speed running at all, and seem like they offer only very limited chances to get this endless amount of gold the developers claim you should be aiming for.  It seems poorly thought out, and it seems like the random level selection is just right to screw you over.

There are also few checkpoints and places to get extra time, with none at all in the ghost house levels.  So happen to get a ghost house?  You get about 150 seconds if you’re lucky.  How anyone is supposed to beat the ones in the later worlds at this speed (especially the ones with long puzzles and lots of running back and forth through various corridors) is something its best not to think too hard about.

Now what did those switches do?

Above image by  

And the poor soul who gets either world 6 ghost house or Mushroom World ghost house?  Sucks to be you.

Coin Rush also doesn’t let you pick the levels, or likely even reset the level packs.  So if the game’s random number generator gives you the least fun levels in the game, you’ve got absolutely nothing you can do about it.

That’s not to say it’s all ‘bad’ though.  There’s an option to play as White Raccoon Mario/the super guide if you just want to plow through everything and get as many coins as possible without worrying about those pesky enemies, something which is somewhat appreciated in a time trial.  You do get various bonuses like being able to double your coins, getting those 100 coin Mushrooms, etc.  And unlike oh so many other bonuses in popular video games (*cough* Mario Kart 7 *cough*), you actually get to keep the coins you acquire in this mode even if you die or run out of time before you’ve beaten all three levels.  Nice to know it’s not entirely pointless.

However, I don’t think it’s a mode I’ll probably be playing much of in the future.  Sure, you get to share records with the exactly four people on the planet who use StreetPass (no online leaderboards), but you can pretty much do the exact same thing in the main game if you’ve completed the main adventure.  Having a Gold Flower to use?  Just take one from the Gold Mushroom Houses littered around the game.  Getting a high score?  The main game saves these on a per level basis.  Getting coins?  You can get everything you can get in the main mode, without the restrictive time limits and without the supposed cap of about 30 000 coins. Oh, and you choose your levels.

All in all, Coin Rush mode is a sort of interesting idea, but just like the never touched time trials in games like Yoshi’s Island DS and Donkey Kong Country Returns, it’s unlikely you’ll be returning to it time and time again simply because of how poorly thought out and realised it is.

New Super Mario Bros 2 Cheats and Tips

Just like the previous games in the series, New Super Mario Bros 2 has a lot of interesting secrets to unlock.  However, many of these are either barely hinted at in game or hidden away via such a method that reaching them is fairly annoying without a guide, so here’s how to get all the game’s secret stuff.

Stars on File Select Screen

Just like in the DS and Wii game, the concept of having stars listed on your file on the file select screen returns.  However, before you think that unlocking them is just as easy this time around, there are a few extra caveats…

Here’s how to get each star:

  1. Beat the final boss/see the ending
  2. Get all star coins in worlds 1-6, Mushroom and Flower
  3. Get all moon coins in the Star World
  4. Beat all levels, open all paths and find all secret exits
  5. Max out the lives counter so it displays three crown icons

As you can see, some of the criteria that need to be met are brand new, including the point about maxing out your lives counter.

Shiny Stars on file select screen

Don’t use the assist block at all.  Thankfully, unlike in New Super Mario Bros Wii and Super Mario 3D Land, they’ve fixed this so merely seeing the shiny block won’t stop your file select screen stars shining, you actually have to use it to lose the effect now.

Play as Luigi

Hold L and R when selecting a file after beating the final boss/game.

Unlock Mushroom, Flower and Star Worlds

To unlock the Mushroom World, you’ll need to find the secret exit in world 1’s tower level.  To do this, go through the door after the midway flag to be in a room with lots of snake blocks.  Go through the hole on the right which the blocks are going through to reach a gold pipe, and follow the path outside to reach the secret exit.

However, this just unlocks the cannon itself.  To actually get to said world, you’ll need to enter the cannon level (which has you constantly running right and merely having to press the A or B button to jump) and complete it.  Now you’re in the Mushroom World.

To unlock the Flower World, a similar principle applies, except it’s world 3’s tower you’ll need to find a secret exit in.  Go through the level, and when the blocks move up/smashers come from both sides, there’s a mini pipe.  Go in as Mini Mario, survive the rest of the level until the secret exit and then beat the cannon level.

You can also reach it from the Mushroom World, via the cannon.  To unlock this, go to the ghost house, and after you’ve pressed the switches to unlock the path, go to the top of the room where you’ll see a P Switch.  Hit it to make a door appear to the far right near the top of the room and exit through it to reach the secret exit.  Then just beat the new level which unlocks (Mushroom B), then the cannon level to reach the Flower World.

Luigi in Star World

The Star World.

To unlock the Star World, you just need to beat Bowser for the first time in world 6.  However, you will not be able to progress unless you pay 90 star coins to get past the barrier in front of the first level.

Gold Crowns in lives counter

Triple Crown Lives

This is what having three crowns in the lives counter is like.  Also, note the hatless Mario.

When you max out your lives counter, the digits are replaced by gold crown icons like in Super Mario 3D Land.  As mentioned above, this is necessary for one of the stars on the file select screen.

Unlimited Mushroom Houses

To let you use the Mushroom Houses an unlimited amount of times (aka they don’t disappear once you leave), you need to beat the Star World.  Thankfully this is much easier than it sounds, most of the levels bar Dry Bowser’s castle are fairly easy.

Rainbow Levels

Rainbow Level

What a rainbow level looks like.

To unlock these short bonus levels, you’ll need to finish a level with the last two digits of the timer matching the world number.  So for each world, this is what the timer needs to be to make the rainbow level appear (X means it can be any value):

[table id=10 /]

New Title screen

New title screen
What you get for a million coins

Get one million coins.  This gives you an alternate title screen with a Gold Mario statue on it alongside tons of coins.

Messages

You get a message congratulating you for every significant amount of coins you rack up (on the main coin counter).  For instance, at about 100 coins, 1000 coins, 10 000 coins and then every few thousand coins after that you’ll get a congratulations message.

Hatless Mario and Luigi

Get three crowns for your lives counter, and Mario and Luigi will take their hats off.  However, they will put their hats back on if you die and lose the three crowns thing, so be warned.

Some thoughts on New Super Mario Bros 2 so far

As you may have already guessed, I decided that it was time to go out and buy New Super Mario Bros 2 so the game could be reviewed for the site.  Unfortunately, since I’ve currently not completed the game 100% (currently missing some levels and star coins at the moment), I don’t think it’d be fair on Nintendo to give the game a proper review yet.  So instead, here are some random thoughts about the game from what I’ve played so far.

Gameplay wise, I have to say New Super Mario Bros 2 is actually pretty fun.  Really, after a couple of weeks of playing nothing but poorly coded Mario fan games with completely broken physics engines and mediocre level design, it’s nice to finally be playing a genuine game made by people who seem to know what they’re doing.

Now I do have to admit, as far as fun goes New Super Mario Bros 2 isn’t exactly the best Mario game on the planet.  It doesn’t quite keep me as interested in playing as say Super Mario 64 or Galaxy did and the lack of new elements does sometimes mean the game feels a bit predictable.  But it’s still better than having to battle the control scheme and engine to get Mario to do whatever you want, and as far as core Mario gameplay goes, it’s still as fun as it was in the DS or Wii games.

In addition to this, despite all the negative press about the game being creatively bankrupt or ‘bland’, there are some pretty nifty new ideas the designers have implemented.  For instance, the whole section where you had to dodge the Koopalings and their dangerous ‘turn Mario to stone’ attack in the two final castle levels was pretty fun, and it was also a neat throwback to the Super Mario Bros 1 instruction manual (remember the old quotes about the Koopas having dark magic and being able to turn Toads to stone?  Here it is in an actual game!)  I also liked the platforms which moved only when you were standing on them, the appearing stone blocks in the level with all the volcanic eruptions in the background and the whole idea of the game actually having a secret ‘final’ boss.  That’s a welcome first for the Mario series in general.

A genuinely clever gimmick from New Super Mario Bros 2, the bit where the Koopalings chase Mario through the castle is great.

The bosses are a bit better than I expected too.  Yes they’re basic, but they do at least have some variation in their attacks, which is more than you could say about the Koopaling battles in Super Mario Bros 3 or World, or any of Super Mario 64 boss encounters.  And the different Reznor battles are pretty cool too, much more interesting than the same old fight repeated four times like in Super Mario World.  So while the bosses aren’t exactly the best boss battles ever seen in a 2D platformer, they’re at least more interesting than those from most of the older 2D Mario games and 3D Land.

This boss battle is more fun than it looks in screenshots.

One thing that did disappoint though were the new power ups.  The gold block is fairly common, but it vanishes after about half a minute of usage.  And the gold flower?  Only lasts the level you use it in, with Mario/Luigi turning back to Fire Mario/Luigi the second they hit the flag.  Not exactly the greatest new power ups, especially considering their fairly useless effects.

Not as interesting as it looks, nor that useful a power up.

How about the new world themes then?  Well I thought it was an okay concept (having six main worlds and three bonus ones), although I have to say there were some problems with the whole setup.  Firstly, how the hell is your average player supposed to find the entrances to some of these cannon levels?  Because locating some of the necessary secret exits takes quite some eye for detail, as well as a whole lot of randomly looking around for them.

Another issue is that the difficulty level seems wildly inconsistent this time around.  Perhaps it’s because we don’t have a mountain and forest world to use to slowly ramp up the difficulty, or maybe it’s just because half the levels in the game seem to reserved as ‘secret’ this time around, but it seems like at one random point the game’s difficulty basically shoots straight upwards and then goes up and down without any pattern to it, one level might be fairly tricky and confusing, the next a walk in the park.

To make matters a bit worse, the final secret world is basically a complete joke difficulty wise.  It’s fun, it’s kind of creative, but difficulty wise it’s probably easier than much of world 5 and 6 is.  Seems a bit weird to struggle with the likes of Bowser’s Castle then just plow through world 9 like it was nothing.  Aren’t bonus levels supposed to be difficult?

Not to mention the true final boss is just a palette swapped Bowser, with identical attacks.

As far as level design is concerned, this game does pretty well on this front.  Yes it doesn’t have all the ‘creative’ gimmicks the Galaxy titles and 3D Land packed in every level, but it does have a significant amount of interesting level set ups.  Like the ghost house where you get a star and have the whole room turn into a bunch of coins, before getting chased by Boohemoth underwater.  Or the castle where giant boulders chase Mario down like the Chomp Sharks from Yoshi’s Island.  Or hell, the level where the secret exit is located in a bonus room along with one of the star coins, in a manner very remniscient of the level design in the Donkey Kong Country series.

That’s not to say the game is without it’s flaws though.  For one thing, quite a few star coins seem to be hidden below random leaps of faith in what appear to be bottomless pits.  Oh, did I say ‘appear to be’?  I mean actual bottomless pits, you then have to quickly wall jump out before you fall off the bottom of the screen.  There also seem to be a lot of situations where you take damage or get crushed to death despite it seeming illogical.  For instance, you now can’t jump on Wendy O Koopa underwater.  However, I’m fairly certain you COULD attack her underwater in both Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros Wii, making this arguably fake difficulty.  Additionally, the Reznor platforms can now crush you flat against the floor if you’re unlucky, which was near enough impossible in Super Mario World and a rather unpleasant surprise for anyone trying to bring over their boss strategies from said game.  Also, the block snakes can still crush Mario or Luigi, making them annoying beyond belief.

Graphically the game is fine.  Looks a bit like New Super Mario Bros Wii (especially the castle levels), but most of the tilesets and backgrounds seem to be entirely new and look great in the levels they’re used in.  No problems here.

New Super Mario Bros 2 looks pretty good.

Music wise, it’s samey but decent.  Yes it’s mostly the same as in New Super Mario Bros Wii, but it fits the levels well and sounds fairly good regardless.  Even with the annoying wah sounds, it’s not like you can really say the castle and ghost house themes are bad songs, and they work perfectly fine in this game.  So do the underwater music, snow music and general athletic and grassland themes.

More variety would have been better, but it’s not a deal breaker to repeat the music from a past game.  And what music is ‘new’ is fairly decent:

Yes, Reznor even gets his theme music back!

There is another genuine issue with the game though, and that’s the general lack of difficulty and generosity of lives.  Okay, I’ll be fair here, the game would actually be pretty hard if you weren’t getting given extra lives like candy, some of the later levels are at least more difficult than those in either the DS or Wii game and there are a lot of things that could mess up a beginner Mario player, but you get so many lives the difficulty is literally destroyed.  As of this point in time, after only a few hours gameplay (maybe seven hours?), I have about 350 lives.  Oh, and I’ve beaten both normal Bowser and Dry Bowser, unlocked and beaten all bonus worlds and have a good chunk of the star coins, but that’s another thing by itself.

They probably should have just permanently removed the whole ‘100 coins for an extra life’ mechanic altogether, since with the huge numbers of coins you can get in every level (to go with the gold theme) you end up gaining about five lives a level at minimum.

So yeah, difficulty isn’t so good, and I don’t think it’ll take a skilled player very long to beat.

So in conclusion, what do I think of New Super Mario Bros 2 so far?  Well it’s a good game, I’ll give it that.  I am enjoying the game like I would any other Mario game, and it’s generally fairly well designed.  It’s just currently a bit of a walk in the park and a bit lacking creatively, so I’m not sure how well I’ll rate it when I get around to writing a proper review.

Hyrule Historia Amazon’s best selling book?

Yes, you’re reading that correctly.  At least for the time being Hyrule Historia has found itself listed as the number 1 most popular book on Amazon’s website!

That certainly has to be proof that video games are somewhat mainstream nowadays, seeing a book about the Legend of Zelda series outdoing Fifty Shades of Grey or whatever else is popular outside of gaming nowadays.  All those great works of art?  Shakespeare?  Lord of the Rings?  The entire Harry Potter franchise? Currently listed as less popular than Hyrule Historia on Amazon.com

Somehow I doubt it’ll end up lasting too long, there’s sure to be some new hot book that has everyone reading it and that ends up on top of Amazon’s best sellers list in good time, but for now us Nintendo fans can celebrate the day that Zelda officially became more popular than ever.

Source:

http://www.amazon.com/best-sellers-books-Amazon/zgbs/books/ref=pd_zg_hrsr_b_1_1

New Super Mario Bros 2; New Footage!

Well, sort of new footage, it’s actually much better quality video footage of the final boss and later levels from Giant Bomb and Game Explain.  As you may have already figured out, New Super Mario Bros 2 is hardly the most interesting looking game in the world, hence the videos shown are probably not going to blow you away with excitement.  Regardless, watch them below:

Above: When did half an hour become seen as ‘quick’?

What do you think of New Super Mario Bros 2, and does any of the above video footage of the game make you want to buy it any more?