On top of the drop in difficulty, Nintendo has decided to make Mario focus on what made him so popular back in the early days: power-ups. Not only are brand new power-ups being introduced to the series, but old ones are returning as well. The Tanooki Suit and Raccoon Tail in particular have been back in the public eye recently. Baby Yoshis are also making a comeback in New Super Mario Bros. U.
Speaking of Baby Yoshis, Nintendo has introduced a brand new type of power-up to the series as well: power-ups you can hold. All the Baby Yoshis from New Super Mario Bros. U work this way. This is not the first time that Mario could hold items. Even in Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, he was able to hold keys and Koopa shells. However, this is one of the first times that holding an item has given him extra abilities, like the ability to float, eat enemies, fly, light up dark caverns, and so forth. In fact, it appears as if these baby Yoshis don't act anything like their original counterparts, which merely ate things as soon as you got close to them.
Finally, newer 2D Mario games focus on one thing that older games did not: multiplayer. While you were able to hop into Mario's adventure as Luigi back in the NES titles, you were never able to play along with Mario at the same time, nor were you ever able to play directly against him unless you loaded up SMB3's barebones versus mode. Newer Mario games put a focus on cooperative and competitive gameplay directly in the stages form the single-player campaign, and New Super Mario Bros. U and 2 will not be an exception.
To sum everything up, Our new Mario games are not games that test your platforming skills, nor are they games that give you a challenge that you will have to overcome after hours of diligent practice. They are, in a sense, party games. They are developed for the family to play together without dying and without frustration. They prioritize accessibility and cool new toys to play with (power-ups) over difficult enemies or puzzles. They are the poster children for a new gaming generation, a gaming generation where the "game" is taken out of gaming.
Is this a bad thing? Well, that's debatable. Nevertheless, it certainly looks like it's where Mario is heading in the future.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: July 31, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central. This week's is also purely a work of fiction*