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'New Super Mario Bros 2' preview: Mario goes for gold in 3DS sequel

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New Super Mario Bros 2

© Nintendo


New Super Mario Bros 2 is a direct sequel to Nintendo's flagship DS offering New Super Mario Bros, and exactly what fans have come to expect from the company mascot's side-scrolling adventures. It brings vintage platforming action to the 3DS, with a couple of aces up its sleeve.

Nobody plays these games for the plot, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to avoid rolling your eyes when you learn that Princess Peach has been kidnapped again. Mario and Luigi come to her aid once more, except this time, they're in it for the money.

Our heroes' ultimate goal is somewhat less altruistic than we are used to from the Big N - to collect one million coins. While this would be a big ask in previous entries in the series, a single level in New Super Mario Bros 2 houses more coins than Scrooge McDuck's money bin.

'New Super Mario Bros 2' screenshot

© Nintendo

'New Super Mario Bros 2' screenshot

© Nintendo



In a rich man's world

All of the franchise's staples appear to be in place for New Super Mario Bros 2 - the controls are inch-perfect, the Koopa-stomping gameplay is free-flowing and gratifying, and the graphics are bright and colourful. We played through a three-level demo consisting of familiar water, sand and fortress stages.

In keeping with series tradition, the sequel brings a raft of new features to the table, some of greater significance than others. Coins are more readily available this time around. They rain from the sky, seep out of felled enemies, and fill entire screens.

While this doesn't have a major impact on the core mechanics, the potential for competitive play through StreetPass increases tenfold. A brand new mode of play called Coin Rush, in which players are given a single life to collect as much loot as they can across three randomly selected levels, has been designed with this very purpose in mind.

The option to revisit levels with hundreds of extra coins available presents them from a fresh perspective, offering more incentive for replay value. And once you set a record over those three levels, you can challenge others using StreetPass to try and beat your total.

New Super Mario Bros 2 Screenshot

© Nintendo

New Super Mario Bros 2 Screenshot

© Nintendo



Power-ups old and new

New Super Mario Bros 2 embraces the series' roots. Not only does an 8-bit Mario appear during the loading screens, numerous power-ups from the portly plumber's past adventures have been thrown into the mix.

The Super Leaf, last seen in Super Mario 3D Land, makes a comeback, allowing players to take to the skies as Raccoon Mario. Of course there are the mushrooms, fire flowers and stars, but brand new power-ups are also debuted. Wielding a golden flower and turning all the enemies in our path into collectible loot was among the highlights of the demo.

Our hands-on time culminated with a reasonably straightforward fortress stage, complete with skeleton Goombas and Piranha Plants. It ended in a boss battle with two fire-breathing Reznor dinosaurs, another nod to SNES classic Super Mario World.


To 3D or not to 3D?

3D isn't exactly uncharted territory for Mario; Super Mario 3D Land used the 3DS's technology effectively and even incorporated it into its gameplay. It wasn't used in a far-reaching way in the levels we played, but added some welcome depth to the imagery.

We sampled New Super Mario Bros 2 on the 3DS XL and came away with no complaints about the way it looked and played with the 3D control cranked up to full capacity. The sprites and environments aren't a massive step up from the game's DS predecessor, but why overhaul something that's perfectly sufficient?

As has been the case with virtually every side-scrolling Mario game Nintendo has produced, New Super Mario Bros 2 will no doubt provide platforming fanatics with everything they need, and then some. The enhancements this time around are designed to encourage replay value and use of the StreetPass service, while the addition of premium DLC could give this one an unprecedented level of longevity.

New Super Mario Bros 2 will launch in European territories on August 17, two days before its North American release.

Screenshot gallery - view New Super Mario Bros 2 images below:

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