Anyone who's played "Pac-Man Championship Edition" knows the blueprint for updating a classic game: Speed it up, add dance music, and, most importantly, let people compare their scores on online leader boards.
"New Super Mario Bros. 2" does something similar with Coin Rush, a secondary mode to the main adventure but what this game will be remembered for. Coin Rush has you play levels from the main game under a short time limit, collecting as many coins as you can. And in place of pumping music or a faster flow of time, the game introduces the Gold Flower. This variation on the Fire Flower turns Mario into the precious metal and lets him throw orbs that spin enemies and blocks into fields of gold -- coins, that is.
Doing well at Coin Rush requires you to play levels over and over, searching for the optimal approach, so it's a good thing levels are designed to the standard we've come to expect from gaming's most important franchise. Posting good scores on online leader boards is also the game's only real challenge. Even so, a better choice on the 3DS is last year's "Super Mario 3D Land," which dared to be harder, and thus more exciting.
In the bigger picture, "New Super Mario Bros. 2" marks two firsts for Nintendo. It's the company's first game to be released in stores and online simultaneously. This means you can download the game straight
"New Super Mario Bros. 2"
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
to your 3DS instead of buying it at GameStop. It's also the first Nintendo game to offer downloadable content, or DLC. That is, you can download additional levels and other upgrades -- for a price. The advent of DLC has allowed other game companies to make their games shorter and less robust, hoping they can sell you the missing parts later on. Nintendo, on the other hand, has always made games that have felt self-contained and complete. Here's hoping "New Super Mario Bros. 2" doesn't mark the erosion of a proud tradition.