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Most 3DS games come with some sort of SpotPass functionality and this is no different. Coin Rush mode gives Mario a 3-stage playlist of levels chosen at random and tasks him with not only collecting as many coins as possible, but doing so under a very strict time limit. Hitting checkpoints or collecting pocket watch powerups extend your timer, but you’ll really want to have played the stages beforehand or else you’ll spend more time battling the clock than collecting coins. You earn more coins in this mode than by simply playing the game, so if you feel like going for the million coin goal, this will be your best option. After completing a playlist, your records are saved and sent out via SpotPass.
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New Super Mario Bros. Wii added co-op to the mix and New Super Mario Bros. 2 continues the tradition, though the player count has (understandably) been knocked down from 4 to 2. If you’ve got a friend nearby that has a 3DS and a copy of the game and you’ll be able to team up to face the considerable challenge before you.
In a stunning twist, the challenge really isn’t the game itself – it’s fighting the urge to slap Nintendo for implementing a shared-screen co-op experience across devices that supply their own screens. You see, the camera is always centered on Mario (although it can switch to Luigi if he tags the mid-level checkpoint first), despite the fact that the vast majority of levels have no reason to keep the players leashed.
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If the player with camera focus advances too far from their partner, the partner not only has a hard time seeing what to do to catch up, they eventually have all control torn from them and their character is contained in a bubble. The lead player can pop the bubble to bring their partner back, but other than screwing with your buddy, the co-op seems more adversarial than anything else. New Super Mario Bros. Wii had similar problems, but the chaos of four players all griefing each other at least added to the fun – the co-op here is simply frustrating. With two players the levels also feel a bit more cramped, as Mario and Luigi can collide, and can make platforming a bit difficult on the limited screen real estate.
Frankly though, I’m not bothered by that too much – the Mario games have been fantastic single-player staples for so long it’s hard for me to feel too bad that the mode I don’t want to play anymore isn’t very fun.
While New Super Mario Bros. 2 seems like Nintendo might be going back to the well just a little too much, I still had a great deal of fun exploring the worlds, challenging myself to find the Star Coins and hidden exits, and yes, soaking in a huge pool of nostalgia. Hey – drawing on Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World for inspiration goes a long way with me. It’s just a pity I won’t be able to bring myself to play with a friend again.