Prediction: New Super Mario Bros. 2 Will be the Least Successful 2D Mario Yet

I’ll admit, when the premise for New Super Mario Bros. 2 was first shown off at E3 2012, I was initially very hostile toward the game. The giant emphasis on coins in just about every piece of information Nintendo put out at the time was very…unsettling. Mario was never about collecting coins; the coins were just there as risk vs. reward factor in the level design, a source of points and a means of getting more lives so players could survive the tougher worlds later on.

Since E3, I’ve kind of warmed up to the game by watching more footage, a lot of which shows that there’s more to the level design than just “grab coins.” Nonetheless, I think the 3DS New Super Mario Bros. 2 is going to flounder more than any side-scrolling Mario has before.

People Aren’t Going to Buy Into the Coins Concept

While I’ve personally come to accept the “coins” of New Super Mario Bros. 2 as a kind of personal challenge to be as ballsy as I can in order to become the Very Best That No One Ever Was at collecting gold, I’m not entirely sure that anyone’s going really be drawn in by the concept. Even having grown to actually kind of like the idea, it’s still not something that sells the game for me. If anything, learning that the game is in fact not just “coins, coins, coins” is what converted me in the end.

Focusing so much on gathering gold remains a gimmicky move, especially once you take into account how many new game mechanics they’ve added in to boost coin counts. If there’s anything we learned from games like Super Mario Sunshine, it’s that odd-sounding changes to a working formula are more likely to put people off than get them interested.

People who were going to buy the game anyway because it’s Super Mario Bros. will, of course, look past it – whether that means longtime fans who will pick up anything new in their favorite franchise, or casual buyers for whom the gimmicks don’t really mean much. The indifference of the casual buyer is probably going to be the biggest strength the game has in terms of selling to the masses. Shopper Mom might be enticed to buy Mario because of the “coins” marketing pitch, which makes the game sound all fresh and new, but it’s more likely that she’s going to buy the new Mario for her kids because it’s Mario, and that means child-friendly fun.

But are any gamers going to invest in Mario all of a sudden now that there are “more coins than ever before”? I somehow doubt it – if anything, it’s going to turn some people off.

The Game is Still Too Derivative

Following the release of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, a lot of people noted that the game featured the same eight worlds from the original New Super Mario Bros.: Grass Land, Desert Land, Water Land, Forest Land, Ice Land, Mountain Land, Sky Land, and Fire Land, complete with environment tiles and backgrounds based directly on those from the previous game. While New Super Mario Bros. 2 looks to be changing things up in terms of environment types with an ancient ruins level and a strange high-speed Minus World/Subspace-like stage, most of the levels we’ve seen so far fall into that very same template.

What’s more, the game once again imports the Koopalings from Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. In the game’s earliest trailers, we also saw Reznors, a boss from the SNES game. So far, the vast majority of “new enemies” are just gold versions of existing enemies, with a few “Dry” versions of monsters like the Goomba or Piranha Plant and an Even Bigger Boo (probably the only real enemy I’m actually remotely interested in, as you may have noticed).

The same goes for the powerups. Bringing back the Raccoon Suit is cool – but what about new stuff? Even the new Gold Mario is just Fire Mario with a twist.

We’ve visited these worlds and fought these baddies and used these abilities already. Fans of the series are ready for some brand-new content.

Where’s all that creative ambition that’s getting poured into New Super Mario Bros. U? The games from the early days didn’t attempt to get away with this much recycling. Each of them brought a host of new ideas to the table as far as worlds like Giant Land and Pipe Land, the Ghost Houses and Choco Mountain, and Bowser’s warships. In terms of enemies, we saw the initial introduction of Dry Bones and the first appearance of Rocky Wrench in Super Mario Bros. 3, and Monty Mole, Rex, and Chargin’ Chuck in Super Mario World. Even the original New Super Mario Bros. had its own set of unique bosses.

Again, I doubt Shopper Mom will notice or care how similar the games are in terms of content, but I imagine at least a good chunk of the core fanbase might be getting a little tired of the same-old stuff.

The Level Design Looks Subpar so Far

Trailers have done a decent job showing that the game isn’t going to be all about coins, but at the same time, they haven’t shown much that’s particularly special in the level design department, either. So far, it’s been mostly some basic platforming, a pipe here and there leading to a treasure room, some moving platforms. A few of the levels actually look kind of stressful, but nothing here screams “timeless classic.”

Or is it just me? You can evaluate the content we’ve seen so far for yourself by watching the trailers below:

In the end, I don’t think New Super Mario Bros. 2 is going to be a failure by any means. Super Mario Bros. is a big seller no matter what. I’m just a little skeptical that it’s going to do for the 3DS what the previous two games in the franchise did for the DS and Wii. And since 3DS needs the big boost to ensure its profitability going forward, I think that could potentially spell trouble for Nintendo if they’re banking on the game repeating the legendary sales performance of its predecessors.

Kind of funny, isn’t it? A game about grabbing coins, released at a time when 3DS needs to really boom to become profitable…

  • Sunblaze24

    While NSMB2 does look very gimmicky and somewhat average for 2D Mario standards, I think the possible issues it may have with sales will have more to do with the 3DS than the game itself.

    Nintendo has a real problem right now. 3DS software sales, in general, are not that high. The only 4 titles that have done well are Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Ocarina of Time 3D and Monster Hunter 3G, and none of those 4 have sold as well as they probably should have. Even a great game seems to suffer being on the 3DS because a lot of people do not want to buy one. Mario Kart 7 was suppose to sell like Mario Kart DS, and that is not happening at all. It’s not even selling quite as well as Super Mario 3D Land. If even Mario Kart failed to boom the 3DS, that doesn’t bold well for NSMB2.

    If NSMB2 and the 3DS XL don’t make people more attracted to the 3DS, I think Nintendo can kiss its hopes of the 3DS keeping up with the DS goodbye.

    • Bob*

      “Mario Kart 7 was suppose to sell like Mario Kart DS, and that is not
      happening at all. It’s not even selling quite as well as Super Mario 3D
      Land.” yeah that’s not true. MK7 is selling better than SM3DL.

      Otherwise good points.

      • Sunblaze24

        ” The Legend of
        Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D became the third Nintendo 3DS title to sell
        more than 1 million units, joining Super Mario 3D
        Land (2.1 million units sold life to date) and Mario Kart 7 (1.75
        million units sold life to date). ”


        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002810164161 Keon Jackson

          From Famitsu 2012 top 100 list:
          04. [3DS] Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo) {2011.12.01} – 665,573 / 1,747,964
          05. [3DS] Monster Hunter 3G (Capcom) {2011.12.10} – 665,394 / 1,474,716
          06. [3DS] Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo) {2011.11.03} – 596,695 / 1,639,206

          • Sunblaze24

            Yeah, I just realized yesterday actually that I had MK7 and SM3DL sales mixed up in Japan for some reason. 3D Land is still selling better in the US, however.

            By any chance, do you have any numbers for these games in Europe?

            • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002810164161 Keon Jackson

              Sorry I don’t have numbers, but 3D Land has been charting higher most of the year. Mario Kart has been ahead for a few weeks now.

    • Keon jackson

      After 8 NPDs

      Super Mario 64 DS: 1,062,000
      Super Mario 3D Land: 2,100,000

      After 7 NPDs

      Mario Kart DS: 998,000
      Mario Kart 7: 1,750,000

      • Sunblaze24

        Mario Kart 7′s current momentum doesn’t look like its going to become the 20+ million seller that Mario Kart DS became, that’s all I’m saying. It may be ahead of the DS game due to its great head start, but so was Skyward Sword compared to Twilight Princess..once upon a time.

        It could do it, especially if NSMB2 is a hit and pushes Mario Kart 7′s momentum (that happens sometimes). We’ll have to wait and see what happens with that game and the 3DS XL.

        Why’d you compare Super Mario 3D Land with Super Mario 64 DS though?

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002810164161 Keon Jackson

          There was nothing else to compare 3D Land to as far as 3D portable Mario’s go.

          Mario Kart 7′s current sales do show it becoming a 20+ million seller. Its the 3DS hardware sales that make it look doubtful. I think that is also what you meant to say because if was tracking way behind Mario Kart DS a bigger install base wouldn’t really help much.

          • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

            The problem is that Mario Kart has not been a steady system seller for 3DS like it was for DS. Hardware sales come from desirable software, not the other way around.

            • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002810164161 Keon Jackson

              What are you basing MK7′s sales on? From the sales numbers I have it is holding up just as well as MK DS was. It is on track to have as good a second year if not better.

              • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

                MK7 is selling fine. What MK7 is NOT doing is ensuring robust sales in America and Europe – which is why 3DS is selling higher in Japan than in either region.

                • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002810164161 Keon Jackson

                  After the 2005 holiday where Mario Kart DS was released DS hardware was back to selling in 100k-140k range that it got up to in Sept/Oct of 2005. I’m not trying to suggest that Mario Kart DS didn’t help sales , but it wasn’t by much.It did help keep the DS over 100k and the DS was doing better post MK than the 3DS is. Even after the DS got Mario Kart it was still being outsold by the GBA and PSP.

                  The 3DS software support in the US just sucks and in Japan it doesn’t. There hasn’t been much to move those people still buying 100k DS units every month to buying the 3DS as well as getting DS owners to upgrade. The DS faced the same thing and that was fixed by NSMB, brainage, and ds lite. The 3DS is not going to match that turn around even if the design is fixed and it has a 2D Mario. It is still missing that breakout new game that brainage was and it still has the 3D the turns people off.

  • Meur123

    I think that the reason that NSMB 2 is going to be the least successful (and also is the reason why I don’t intend to buy it) is simply because it has been done before. New Super Mario bros (no pun intended) was new. It revived the classic 3d side scroller Mario, and put it on a modern console, with modern 2.5d graphics. NSMB Wii added the 4 player multiplayer which was a massive advancement (and a first for the core Mario series.) But now with NSMB U and NSMB2, what’s so different this time? Mario 2J was different to Mario 1 in terms of difficulty, Mario 2 USA was very different to Mario 1 (whether you liked it or not), Mario 3 pretty much set an example to all other Mario games in terms of new power ups, and World added Yoshi. Nintendo needs to add something new to the 2d series. The coin mechanic looks great, but it’s not enough for me to spend £30 on. I may buy it used a few years down the line, but that’s pretty much it.

  • zdog

    The problem is the novelty of jumping back into a side scrolling mario world has worn off and now “new” super mario bros is starting to feel like “recycled” super mario bros. I’d give anything for Nintendo to make a huge jump in the dynamic of world design, power-ups and (at least for me) art direction. I’m talking jumps like we saw between mario 1, 2, 3, super mario world 1 and 2. NONE of those games were alike in terms of level design and art direction, but were still definitely Mario. The unfortunate reality is that with every “new” iteration, the franchise gets more stale. There was a time I wanted to see the old made new…now I just want new.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000232322844 Reuben Horst

    I love the coin concept. It’s what convinced me that the game deserves a second glance. I’m sick and tired of NSMB games—they’re really getting old—but the coin concept really made me excited for the game. New Super Mario Bros. U just looks boring, especially without this new concept. It looks just like the past games only with improved graphics and new powerups. So. Freaking. Boring.

    • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

      Honestly, you could say the same about SMB3 and SMW. Basically reskins with new powerups and enemies. The test is going to be whether people sense passion in it.