There are some video game challenges you just don’t believe are possible. Whether it’s beating Kaizo Mario World blindfolded, getting through the Pokemon series with a team of 6 Magikarp or beating a Zelda game without using a sword, they just seem like the type of thing only a dedicated nutcase would ever bother with.
And now, here’s another one. Basically, someone on Reddit has beaten New Super Mario Bros 2. Without collecting a single coin.
Think that’s not crazy? Well, look at it this way.
The whole purpose of New Super Mario Bros 2 is to get as much money as possible. It’s literally a game where coins are tossed at you from every angle. Where gold rings turn everything gold. Where the Gold Flower turns Mario into a golden badass that blasts enemies into money by shooting at them. Heck, even the first trailer started with money raining from the sky!
Either way, if there’s one Mario game that an ascetic or communist run would be awkward in it, it’s this one. Yet somehow, Reddit user someguy2988 did just that. He even documented every level and route he took in this spreadsheet:
So, you think getting a million coins was tough (or extremely tedious)? Well how about following this guy and going for the other extreme? Let’s see if you can beat the whole thing without getting a single coin in the process!
As you’ve probably figured out in the past, lots of Mario games have level editors available for them. Super Mario Bros 1 to 3. Super Mario World. Super Mario 64, Sunshine and Galaxy. Heck, you’ve even got ones for Super Mario RPG, the Mario & Luigi series and Yoshi’s Island!
But for whatever reason, it seems some people wish to make custom levels for New Super Mario Bros 2 for 3DS. You know, this game:
So say hello to the newest Mario series level editor, Coin Killer! Currently in development on the Mario hacking site Kuribo64 (also the home of editors for Super Mario 64 DS and Super Mario Galaxy), it will enable fans to edit various aspects of Mario’s coin collecting adventure, presumably including the levels, overworld maps and other aspects. The source code for it can be found on Github at the link below:
But what do you think? Is the idea of a level editor for New Super Mario Bros 2 something that interests any of you Mario fans at Gaming Reinvented? Or has Super Mario Maker moved you away from these unofficial tools altogether?
Well, another week and another set of Japanese game sales! Can you guess which title is at the top of the list this time? Wait for it…
Yes, Luigi’s Mansion 2 again, even more weeks in which it hasn’t budged an inch from the top of the Japanese sales charts! Jeez, Nintendo really have created a great selling title here, it’s been doing well in every country under the sun and has likely nearly overtook its predecessor in sales already. Here’s the full list of best selling games in Japan:
Out of all these, a nice 8 out of 20 games just happen to be 3DS titles (the ones in italics above). To add to this, when you add in the two Wii U games and the one Wii title listed, that makes more than half the top 20 list that games on Nintendo systems are taking up. They really are doing fantastic over there…
Above: Luigi’s Mansion 2 stays firmly at the top of the list for another week running.
On another note, I’m a bit shocked New Super Mario Bros 2 is still doing so well. I mean, it’s arguably one of the worst games in the Mario series, yet it’s still coming in the top 10 best selling games list nearly a year after it’s release date. I guess in this case you really can make a game primarily for the money and have it sell by the million…
Above: Will New Super Mario Bros 2 ever stop selling?
Finally, Game and Wario isn’t exactly doing great this time around. Seems like the point someone raised about the game potentially failing might well be right, I know the critical and public reception for the title is mostly definitely mixed over there.
Above: Game and Wario gradually slips down the sales charts into oblivion…
And that’s the top 20 best selling games in Japan for the last week or so. I don’t think there are too many surprises in regards to what games are doing well (I’d bet nearly everyone predicted Luigi’s Mansion 2 would still be holding on to the number 1 spot on the list), but I guess you can comment on it in the comments section below or on Nintendo 3DS Community.
This is a guest article by Critical Gaming author Richard Terrell, someone who has spent many years analysing the Mario series on a gameplay level and who considers New Super Mario Bros 2 a far better game than people give it credit for. His website can be found here:
Here’s the article, a defense of New Super Mario Bros 2 and an argument about why it’s one of the best platformers of all time:
Over the last 5 months I have devoted time every Sunday to practice this Mario Medley composed by a guy named Andrew Johnson. The piece is very “Mario” in that it works with the original theme that scored my childhood and my love for video games. And unlike other Mario medleys, Andrew’s sticks with that classic SMB World 1-1 melody. Yet in a very different way, the piece borrows pieces of piano classics from great composers in music history. Now, after putting in half a year of Sunday practice only to have progressed half way through this 8 page masterpiece, I’m convinced that New Super Mario Bros. 2 is one of the greatest platformers showing why the such gameplay is more like music than anything else.
Above: Super Mario Bros 1-1 in musical notation form
New Super Mario Bros. 2 is both familiar and novel. The seemingly contradictory, oxymoronic juxtaposition between the new and old is evident in the title of the game. It’s a new game that’s a direct numerical sequel to a older game that re-designed the style of the classic NES game Super Mario Bros. In New Super Mario Bros. 2, Mario is still Mario. He still runs, jumps, and sounds the same. He even looks exactly how we… remember him looking; after all, back in the day the crisp pixel edges of Mario’s sprites were blurry at best on our TVs. Indeed, Mario is a man of few words and a game of few changes if you’re the kind of gamer who only judges games by their graphical exteriors. But if you do so then you’ll miss what Mario is really about.
While we’re on the topic of visuals, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is the best looking 2D Mario platformer. Like that original NES aesthetic, NSBM2 often features simple almost monochromatic scenery to create a stark color contrast between the interactive foreground and the non-interactive background. At the same time, Mario’s world is filled with depth and texture. The block bricks and cave walls and rough walkways are displayed in all the high resolution detail that we love from next-gen gaming. Yet, with just a flick of the 3D depth slider, the backgrounds drop away into the back of the screen and blur for a very photographic effect. The look is fantastic, but it does even more for gameplay. The stereoscopic technology of the 3DS allows developers to use depth to distinguish between layers. It’s nearly impossible to be confused about whether something on the screen is interactive or just in the background.
Above: If you need an illustration of why this distinction is possible, I think Mushroom Kingdom Fusion’s Toyland is a great one. It’s so visually distracting you can sometimes fail to realise what you’re supposed to be interacting with. NSMB 2’s blurred BGs avoid this.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 is familiar; some say too familiar. Mario. Fire Flowers. Goomba. Koopa. Reznor. Bowser. We’ve seen it before. Even Koopa Kids, Tanooki Tails, and co-op play isn’t “new” enough for some. Others say NSMB2 is too easy. Just store a powerup, farm enough 1ups, or just die enough times and you can White Raccoon Mario your way to victory. Dwelling on low skill floors and the number of new gameplay elements in NSMB2 distracts from what Mario has been about since turning Super in the first place. Gameplay! In other words simple and engagingmechanics, layered level design, interesting choices, clean feedback, and enough dynamics to pull it all together. And the best way to understand how NSMB2 exemplifies these attributes is by thinking of playing Mario as playing a musical instrument.
The most meaning in Mario comes from it gameplay. Not its story. And not the newness of the game setting, music, or visual style. The point of New Super Mario Bros. 2 is to engage with its platforming gameplay, to recognize the challenges and the options you have to over come these challenges, and to ultimately build your skill to play at increasingly more competent levels. I wouldn’t suggest doing any of this work if it wasn’t worth it. Aspects of gameplay experiences are difficult to express, for reasons that I won’t get into here. But I want to say clearly that when I become skilled at playing Mario’s design, I gain the ability to read Goomba and Koopa like musical notes, marking the places where I must act. And though these marks move dynamically across the screen, my interaction with them and around them makes something like music. I set my own pace by refusing to release the run button. I freestyle and improvise my way to victory one jump at a time.
Super Mario Brothers 2D platforming game design is something like a musical genre. This genre uses a set of now familiar elements and conventions to create a refined mode of expression. With the lofty goal of achieving new levels of excellence with every title, the Mario platformers were built upon the foundation of Super Mario Bros for the NES. There’s no need to reinvent the Goomba. Since the beginning Goomba have served a unique design role as a basic enemy that falls off of platforms and doesn’t chase the player. In other words Mario has a solid history of design forms, functions, and conventions that allows designers to leverage the knowledge that many players have to deliver something new.
Nowadays, I suspect that most gamers who will play New Super Mario Bros. 2 have some Mario experience. But Nintendo understands that there are many who don’t. There are many gamers who struggle just to see the ending credits in games. So Nintendo has made it relatively easy to beat NSMB2. Beyond just beating the game, it’s moderately challenging to collect all the star coins in each level. And it’s tricky to discover all the levels and secrets without any outside help. But for those who really want to put their years of Mario experience to the test, there’s Coin Rush mode. And it’s here where NSMB2 gameplay really sings. It’s not a matter of if NSMB2 is a top notch platforming experience. It’s only a matter of if you can see why.
Above: It may look simple, but for a new player it’s likely not. People always seem to forget that every Nintendo/Mario game is someone’s first ever Nintendo or Mario game. It’s 100% completion and challenges that make them truly difficult.
The problem is, the greatness of Mario’s gameplay cannot be understood merely by playing the game once and beating it. Twice through isn’t going to be enough either. Like all complex systems, we have to study a game to best understand it even down to how the smallest pieces work together in a harmonious design. Music is the same way. They say music is a universal language, but there’s more to this phrase than most realize. Sure, the abstract and aural qualities of music allow it to be easily perceived and enjoyed by any nation, race, creed, and tongue. But this doesn’t mean that all people can instantly grasp all the meaning in music upon hearing it for the first time. It also doesn’t mean that people can immediately enjoy music either. If music is truly like a language (universal or otherwise), that means that studying the equivalent of musical vocabulary, grammar, and history helps us extract and embrace the more complex, subtle, and powerful meaning within music.
“The first, reports The Atlantic, is that “when listeners hadn’t previously encountered a certain chord, they found it nearly impossible to hear the individual notes that comprised it.” Not that they didn’t like it — they literally didn’t even process it. Is that like hearing a word in language you don’t understand? That it’s just so much noise, so to speak?” ~NPR.org
The ability to identify tones and thus enjoy harmonies was positively correlated with musical training. Said study co-author Sarah Wilson, “This showed us that even the ability to hear a musical pitch (or note) is learned.” ~theatlantic.com
Study, learning, practice, and repetition are required to unlock the structure, form, and ultimately the meaning in New Super Mario Bros. 2’s gameplay. Fortunately, this process is made incredibly fun because we’re talking about playing a highly polished, top quality video game. If you’re looking to embrace the game in a detailed and deep way, and the one best ways to do so in NSMB2 is by embracing the challenge of Coin Rush. With limited time and one life to live, Coin Rush forces players to put their skills to the test. You’ll have to weigh how much you’re willing to risk as you plan routes though levels, go out of your way to uncover secrets, and combo enemies. It’s gameplay of a golden gamble. Coins are such an elegant way for players to measure their Mario skills. I suggest going fo a high score, and then try to beat your score over and over. Challenge your record and share it with anyone you walk past. Or search on youtube to get a feel for what’s possible.
If you do put in the work, you’ll find that NSMB2 is a game unlike any other Mario game to date. The golden coin brick hats and the gold fire flower are wonderful gameplay elements that are likely never to return. The golden fire flower in particular allows players to combo level and enemy elements to obtain serious coinage in new, yet familiar ways. Whether you’re reaching 30k in your coin rush totals, battling for the top slot for the Nerve-Wrack Pack global leader boards, or white Racooning your way through the game, the point is to have fun dancing and platforming your way through the game to the beat of your own song. The point is the jump and to fall and to rebound and to run in a way that’s not only fun for you, but in a way that also embraces the fun that the developers so meticulous designed. This is what makes New Super Mario Bros.2 a wonderful platforming duet between player and designer.
Especially the Kaizo type played in so many Youtube Let’s Play videos? Because I’ve seen more and more things once only expected in difficult ROM hacks get made standard by the latest Mario games that I wonder whether some of Nintendo’s newer Mario developers either watched the videos or were part of the ‘hacking’ scene in their youth.
Above: Even this Mario music video shows such levels in the background at certain points…
I mean, I can’t be the only person who’s noticed how much more often Munchers seem to be appearing in modern Mario games, right? After all, they were completely absent from every Mario game bar remakes between Wario Land 1 and New Super Mario Bros Wii. That’s FIFTEEN YEARS between appearances, yet they’ve become all common in the recent New Super Mario Bros games?
And isn’t it funny how the way they’re used in New Super Mario Bros U’s Challenge levels is almost identical to their usage in ROM hacks?
Above: This is basically an official kaizo level
Heck, they even used sideways and upside down Munchers this time, just like those ultra difficult games people play on Youtube!
Not just those either. Anyone remember how Missile Bills seem to have got a lot more powerful in recent games? Back in SMB 3, all they did was turn around once you passed them. Yet now in New Super Mario Bros Wii and the like they basically act the Homing Bullet Bills from the fan games and hacks rather than the Mario 3 enemy:
Above: I’m sorry, but heat seeking Bullets were never in the 2D games prior to this.
It really does seem like a lot of concepts and objects used in kaizo hacks and other fan projects seem to be brought back in recent Mario games for Nintendo themselves to use in much the same way.
Talking of difficult games and kaizo, it seems like the recent games have quite a lot of content that could be considered as such, mostly in the ‘secret’ levels and downloadable level packs. Sure it did technically exist in Mario games prior with the Lost Levels, but it seems like it’s become more and more commonplace as the series went on.
Like how Endless World of Yoshis/Crazy Maze Days could almost be seen as proto kaizo:
It has many characteristics found in fan made levels. Ultra high difficulty, lack of checkpoints, trial and error gameplay, fast scrolling, mazes, having to redo the whole level if you make a minor mistake like with the Chomp Rock thing and puzzles which aren’t that easy to figure out. It may or may not have predated the Kaizo and I Wanna Be the Guy, but it seems to have quite a few of the ideas them and their successors seem to have refined into a twisted art form.
Yoshi’s Island DS is another obvious case of being inspired by hacks and fan projects, the secret levels are so blatantly unfair and even poorly designed they’re impossible to distinguish from the fan made ones!
In case you didn’t watch the videos, the whole design of the secret levels in Yoshi’s Island DS seems to be built around trying to annoy the player as much as possible with traps you can’t see or detect in advance, the possibility of being forced to die at every opportunity and gimmicks which are not fun in the slightest. The game reminds me of some Yoshi’s Island based games and mods, and not in a good way.
Or how the Perfect Run in Super Mario Galaxy 2 and World S8 Crown from Super Mario 3D Land are basically official platform hell/kaizo challenges, complete with the ‘one slip up and start from the beginning’ bit:
And many of the challenge levels in New Super Mario Bros U seem to basically be ‘canonizing’ stuff from Mario ROM hacks and fan games. Like the whole ‘jump on enemies in a row without touching the ground to win’ thing.
Above: 1-Up enemy hopping challenges. New to official Mario games, not new to unofficial ones.
That’s been done in a lot of ROM hacks before Nintendo officially made it part of the Mario series with New Super Mario Bros U.
How about the whole challenge with the mole on the raft? Where you have to get the mole to the end of the level to win? That’s very much a concept you’d expect to see in a kaizo hack, not an official/published game.
It’s also sort of interesting how Nintendo has basically included the whole ‘ascetic’ concept, where you have to avoid killing any enemies or getting any coins. It’s not called that, but there are some definite similarities between fan made levels like this one:
And New Super Mario Bros U challenges like these:
Above: This challenge is literally ‘don’t touch any coins or enemies’. Wonder where we’ve heard that before…
It’s like someone at Nintendo is watching all those Youtube LPs and taking down notes for bonus content for recent Mario games!
But do you know what the best evidence I’d say of them being influenced by these game mods is? New Super Mario Bros 2’s Impossible Pack:
Come on, even the very NAME shouts Kaizo! And that level design with difficult enemies in tight spots, zero coins and power ups in the entire level and tricky gimmicks like rising purple acid with narrow jumps past saws and wall jumping up shafts while dodging Fire Chomps and Firebars are all things I’d expect out of the next Kaizo Mario World, not an official level pack!
Everything about it just makes me think of someone like ProtonJon playing a difficult Mario hack with save states and get annoyed at the unfair difficulty. Heck, you could even say Nintendo are harsher than the fans, at least the fans let you use save states and rewinds to beat their levels!
In general, I’d say Mario games seem to be taking more and more inspiration from the fan works based on them, with the super hard bonus levels that were not as common in the NES and SNES days, the elements like Munchers and appearing/disappearing blocks which were far rarer back in Super Mario Bros 3 or World and many ideas seemingly taken from ROM hacks of the Mario series like not killing any enemies or collecting any coins.