A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a typical Mario platformer game. Mario engages in a bit of mild violence -- hopping on enemies to flatten them, shooting fireballs -- but it's directed toward cartoonish, mindless, decidedly non-human enemies. Like other recent Mario games, this one supports co-operative play and makes for a fine social gaming experience (note: both players need a 3DS and a game cartridge). This game supports the 3DS StreetPass wireless communication feature, but personal information is not exchanged. Parents need to remember that Nintendo is warning parents not to allow kids age six and under to view the graphics in 3D because that viewing "may cause vision damage." The Nintendo 3DS offers parents the ability to lock out the use of 3D graphics in the system's Parental Controls.
What's it about?
NEW SUPER MARIO BROS. 2 is all about the money. Players will collect tens of thousands of the series' iconic coins as they work their way through Mario's latest side-scrolling platforming adventure. It bears most of the hallmarks of previous outings, including a princess kidnapped for reasons unknown, dozens of short levels ending with a jump to the top of a flag pole, and loads of hidden items, including 1-up mushrooms and green vines into the clouds. But its Midas touch is what makes this game stands apart from its precursors. Metallic cash can be found spurting from pipes, floating in air bubbles, springing from a brick helmet as Mario moves at high speeds. This cascade of coinage multiplies Mario's lives at an almost disconcerting rate. Skilled players can expect to finish the game with hundreds of extra lives. Co-op sees pairs of players -- each with their own 3DS and game card -- chasing after this golden bonanza together, and StreetPass mode lets players compare their best hauls over three random levels with other kids.
Is it any good?
New Super Mario Bros. 2 is, as the world has come to expect from games starring everyone's favorite plumber, a wonderfully entertaining play. The controls are satisfyingly tight and the thrill of finding hidden areas and power-ups remains as compelling as ever. What's more, the new objective of collecting and adding to a running tally of tens of thousands of coins scratches an itch that Nintendo has been nurturing among its fans since they smashed the first coin brick in the original Super Mario Bros. more than a quarter century ago.
But it doesn't really move the franchise forward. Aside from the constant gold rush, this game feels very much like past Mario adventures. What's more, there is evidence of a bit of sloppy level design, apparent in some hazards that are unfairly hidden from view until it's too late. These problems come up only a handful of times throughout the game, but are all the more notable because we've so rarely seen such issues in past Mario games. New Super Mario Bros. 2 is among the very best and most easily recommendable games available for the 3DS, but it falls short of matching the excellence of its modern predecessors.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about playing games with friends and family. What are some of the advantages associated with shared interactive experiences? Can you think of any detriments? Do you prefer to play alone or with friends?
What do you think about Mario having to rescue Princess Peach? Is that stereotyping gender roles?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
- Subjects: Science: motion
- Skills: Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
Thinking & Reasoning: solving puzzles
- Price: $39.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: August 19, 2012
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Princesses and Fairies, Adventures
- ESRB rating: E for Comic Mischief
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.