IGN - Five months ago, I felt optimistic about one of Nintendo’s two New Super Mario Bros. titles. The other seemed far less impressive, lacking truly original ideas or execution. But that’s always been the challenge of this particular retro-themed series – can it simultaneously balance old school platforming while adding something we haven’t seen before?
If you asked me around E3 2012, I would have said New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the Nintendo 3DS would accomplish that. New Super Mario Bros. U seemed to lack those qualities. True, it was the first HD Mario title, but its level design seemed uninspired, and allowing a fifth player to place blocks in the world through the GamePad was hardly something that seemed noteworthy.
Times have changed. Drastically.
Keep in mind New Super Mario Bros. 2 is not a bad game. But it’s fair to say it’s underwhelming and unremarkable. It squandered its ‘million coin’ gimmick, to the point where gamers had to effectively "grind for coins" to reach the lofty goal. That's a terrible thing to have to do in a platformer. The game simply wasn’t bold or brave enough with its unique angle. The entirety of the experience felt safe. And that’s not something this series can afford.