The Boys Are Back In Town
It’s no secret that Mario is a business-savvy mascot, with an unwavering skill at selling consoles. This holds true for Nintendo’s newest handheld, with Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 holding the number one and two spots on the sales charts, respectively. It makes perfect sense, then, to bring another successful series, New Super Mario Bros., to the 3DS to bolster sales even further. Of course, unlike Mario’s first adventure on the portable, New Super Mario Bros. 2 will return him to his 2D roots (or more likely 2.5D.) and take many liberties from the titles of ages past.
Super Mario Bros. 3 seems to be the idol of choice for this adventure, as indicated by the quartet of screenshots revealed so far. It may not seem like much to go on, but it’s more than enough to stew up some hopeful hypotheses.
The first eye-catcher is the return of the P-Wing, an enhancement to Mario’s Raccoon suit that allows him to take flight. We were all hoping for this feature in Super Mario 3D Land, but it was sadly absent. The same screenshot also displays a blue platform block, which immediately brings to mind those from the third game in the NES series, where some of these blocks allowed players to step behind the scenery to uncover secret treasures. (Warp Whistles, please!) This is a feature that could potentially play well with the handheld’s 3D capability, popping those blocks into the foreground.
One of the most interesting images shows Mario in a snow-capped world with some glittery gold enemies. There are several assumptions one could make about this screenshot. It could be that the enemies can acquire Star Power this time around, invincible to Mario’s attacks unless he can find an appropriate power-up to combat them. Perhaps they are frozen in time, sealed away in a golden cocoon to allow for an easier romp for our mustachioed hero. My personal wish is that when enemies are in this golden state, dispatching them yields extra coins. This could play into reaching a coin threshold to win a challenge star, or better yet, build an ever-increasing pool of coin currency used to unlock many extra goodies.
The third screenshot shows Mario in an underground or temple level, where some red Koopas are destined to be bounced off of breakable bricks before Mario can progress further. An interesting change would be alternate routes in the same board that lead to different paths on the world map, but this is more likely a path to some out-of-the-way coins or some other completionist collectible. Mario has gone golden in this pic, but my hunch tells me the shot was taken during an invincibility phase and just happened to freeze on the golden hue. If I’m wrong though, a new Power-Up would be much welcomed.
In the final shot we see Mario dancing around some Scuttle Bugs, clinging to webs in order to cross a bottomless pit. It doesn’t tell much other than Mario has the power of the grab. What else he will be able to grab is still a mystery, but Koopa shells and POW Blocks are fair guesses.
It has been revealed that Luigi will make an appearance as a playable character in the game, but it’s still unclear as to how big a role he will play. Perhaps he can join in at the same time as Mario, helping him squash Goombas, or maybe just to be a nuisance and mess up his brother’s hat. Or perhaps it will be more along the lines of 3D Land, with a completely new set of challenges unlocked when you free the green plumber. Also unclear is whether co-op (when multiplayer is officially announced) will involve just the brothers, or whether a four-player round-up will be possible. Considering the hilarious mayhem it created on Wii version, it would certainly add even more fun to the upcoming 3DS title.
Another interesting rarity (at least for Nintendo), is the fact that the full game will available both for purchase at retailers and as a digital download via the eShop. When considering the profit this game will likely reel in, it should serve as a worthy test for the company’s marketing department to see how much of the fan base is ready and willing for the digital shift. If it looks promising, we may see more first-party digital distributions, and, who knows, maybe eventually a cloud-based storage system and social networking.
Whatever the case, New Super Mario Bros. 2 has a tentative launch date of August 2012. I’m somewhat skeptical of this target, and believe a holiday release is more likely unless there is an overwhelming supply of marquis titles to cover the end-of-the-year window. Nevertheless, whenever this beauty launches, it will undoubtedly skyrocket to the top of the sale charts.