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Can Mario's Money Buy Our Happiness?

posted 7 Jun 2012, 11:26 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 7 Jun 2012, 11:26 ]
If Nintendo were to ever pursue a sequel to Super Mario Land, I can definitely see people rejoicing. Some hold that game in high regard as one of the finest adventures Mario has ever had, notwithstanding the excellent use of 3D to further the experience and, really, the 3DS itself. When a sequel to a successful game is announced, it is to be expected that some sort of a proceeding would take place in its honor, even if that is but a round of cheery applause. So why is that when Nintendo announced and reveals details on New Super Mario Bros. 2, I'm left feeling unmoved to the point of almost being uninterested? Consider the following points of reasoning.

First question of the day: What, pray tell, is Nintendo pitching to be the driving force behind a sequel to New Super Mario Bros. 2? Judging from what we've seen these past couple days, that can be pinned on the appeal of having the Midas touch. Almost admitting outright that there's little else to differentiate itself from its 2006 counterpart, the key theme behind all of this seems to be the collecting of coins; because, you know, that's something that Mario knows nothing about. I will give it to them that the appearance of the gameplay suggests that coin-collecting has not been approached in the sheer volume that it is in this release. But if that's the main shtick that they're rolling with, you really have to wonder the sort of impact this will have on gameplay. Wouldn't this automatically diminish the difficulty factor? With all these coins will come easily-gathered 1UP's, and even if Mario doesn't have the same death prerequisite as Sonic with having an empty pocket before getting knocked out, the level design will ultimately determine just how much they can get away with having this as a running theme.

Sure the alleged appeal of always being so close to a jackpot goes well and good for a while, but once that fades into the background and you presumably focus on the actual experience itself -- and I say that as a point to detach these two concepts from one another -- what will you find? From what has been shown so far, it is not far from the truth to say that New Super Mario Bros. 2 is really more of the same. Unless there is some giant Bank in the sky that needs your help refilling its insides, I'm not seeing it. Aside from the new inspirations it can take from Super Mario Land and even going into the territory of Super Mario Bros. 3, there's nothing especially noteworthy about the way this experience is looking. Some might be quick to stake their claim that the 3D aspect of Super Mario Land wasn't pushing a new form of gameplay on its own, but the case can be made that it was something that was interwoven into the entire package, and not just the aesthetics of it all. I can't make a similar remark about how Nintendo is choosing to amplify the coin-collecting aspect in ways that might not even have a great deal of impact on the platforming that we have come to expect from Mario.

Stemming off that element, soon after New Super Mario Bros. 2 was shown in action at Nintendo's E3 on-stage presentation, I thought to myself maybe Wario was cheated out of the opportunity for a new game. Think about it. Wouldn't this theme be much better suited for Wario, a character who has built up a reputation for being money-hungry? When Nintendo announces a new Mario game, I shouldn't think to myself that a style of gameplay would be better suited elsewhere, let alone within another side-property that they themselves support! Within that revised context, it might not seem as much of a feeble attempt of producing what could already be predicted as a paint-by-numbers sequel. But for whatever reason, Nintendo insists tying this gimmick will be enough to justify a sequel to the best-selling game.

I think you'll agree, whether you're a huge fan of Mario or not, that my reasons for being concerned about New Super Mario Bros.' sequel are warranted. Not just the fact that the theme they are working with does not reflect a good grasp on the role a sequel should ideally serve, but I should have faith in Nintendo that they wouldn't let things like a greatly minimized difficulty factor just slip through the cracks. Sadly, I don't have that, and until I see evidence to the contrary, New Super Mario Bros. 2 has not yet made me a believer.