E3 2012 Hands-on Impressions
Recently, Nintendo announced they were making a 2D Mario that was a direct sequel to the best-selling 2006 New Super Mario Bros game for the DS. Yes, that’s right. 2006. It has been six years since we’ve had a new 2D Mario platformer on the handheld. While this is technically the third in the New SMB line, it is in every way much more of a sequel to the DS game than the 4 player Wii version. So the ‘2’ in the title gets my full approval.
The Nintendo ‘special’ (I use that term loosely) 3DS conference has already revealed some of the new features of this title. We already know it will see the return of Raccoon Mario, with the Mario 3 style P-meter and proper flying this time. Also announced is a true 2 player co-op mode allowing the second player to control Luigi. We finally get answers on the Golden Mario power we had leaked previously. Getting a golden fire flower will give Mario the Midas touch where defeating enemies will give him multiple coins and his fireballs transform bricks into more coins. While they haven’t revealed exactly what we will do with these thousands of coins we're collecting, it's obvious that Mario is looking to out-greed Wario in this adventure.
Playable on the showfloor was the new Gold Rush mode. In the game it will challenge you to collect as many coins as you can through three different levels from the game on a single life. The first thing that surprised me was how surreal it was to play a 2D Mario with the 3D slider up on a 3DS. It gives the game a visual depth in a more subtle diorama sort of way. The models look the same, but uprezed and smoother. Gameplay was exactly as slick and responsive as we have come to expect from the series but there was a definite increase in the challenge. There are more enemies in more places and the hidden areas are much more devious.
The golden Mario power was quite a lot of fun, thanks in a large part to the massive amount of bricks staged near wherever you find the power-up. The biggest challenge while using this power is to remember you're a money-making machine, not a golden god. You're not invincible but luckily this also means that the power is not a timed one; if you're skilled enough you can keep this power through to the end of the level.
Raccoon Mario plays just about how you remember it. The flying, the waggle hovering, and wacking enemies with your tail are all present and accounted for, only more fun because you also have access to modern Mario maneuvers like the butt stomp and wall jumps.
All hail the glorious return of Reznor
I also got a glance at some new enemies (mainly the extension of the Dry Bones family). While undead enemies are nothing new, there are now new enemy designs that basically boil down to Dry Goombas and Dry Piranha Plants (Dry Shroom and Dry Stem?) Also new are golden gates that when passed through will transform all the enemies into golden enemies complete with a trail of coins behind them to further feed Mario’s new greed.
Even with my brief time playing (with the Mario hat-wearing booth babe tethered to the 3DS looking over my shoulder the whole time) I can tell that this will be another excellent addition to the 2D Mario series. Now we just have to wait until August 19, 2012 to get our hands on the full game.