Mario sleepwalks us through another money-printing cookie cutter

New Super Mario Bros. 2 (2012)

I’m trying to remember the last time I put absolutely no effort into something, but I couldn’t be bothered engaging my memory for long enough to uncover it. I think you can already tell where I’m going with this piece, but I will say, it’s a wonderful feeling when you go past caring and just decided to drop out completely.

I had that with college, you know, and it was really just a natural progression. The timetable they gave me was something ridiculous like only 11 hours a week, which I took as licence not to turn up at all. After all, the less teaching hours there are, the easier it is to cram. We’d get to exam time and I’d see all these triers and achievers stressing out like crazy. I never really liked the feeling of being stressed, so I just never bothered putting myself under any of it. Besides, I don’t think colleges can fail you anyway, so long as you turn up on the last day. Turning up was, after all, the bare minimum, and I’m always happy to do the bare minimum.

Let’s see, what else? Well, I’m sure there’ve been more than one relationship which I put no effort into. But you tend to get found out eventually; it turns out that men can’t really get away with throwing out starfish sex for very long. It helps as well if you remember their names, birthdays and anniversaries. Me, I never got too het up in all that because I always knew there’d be someone else around the corner who I could also pay no attention to.

I certainly don’t put any effort into the housework. Why would I? Talk about a self-defeating prophecy. You start cleaning your house, and you’ll never stop. Recognise that you’re beaten, and let the dust, mould and clag accumulate, because you’re only entering a losing battle otherwise. Sometimes you have to box clever – for instance, few rational people could be bothered with making their bed every day, myself included. To get around this, I sleep on the floor, thus ensuring that I always have a freshly made bed.

I don’t wash my clothes because you wouldn’t believe the faff involved in it all – collecting, washing, hanging, drying, ironing, leave it out. Don’t put me down as some sort of dirty scrote now, I just buy new clothes when my current threads are starting to pong a bit. Plenty of strong deodorant helps to combat the stink as well.

In any case I’m not arsed with clothes shopping either really, or more specifically trying clothes on, and I’m even less bothered with online shopping, in case I have to return the clobber or if it makes me look like a fatty. So I just pick them up off the rack, buy them, and if they’re no use I just write them off from my rotation.

As for work, boy, you don’t even wanna know. As we speak I’m fully working from home, and seeking a new job, which means you’d need the newest, most state-of-the-art Richter seismology detector to pick up even the slightest bit of movement out of me. Your strongest x-ray would be hard-pressed to find any work left in me. It actually borders on the criminal, some proper white-collar fraud, earning money under false pretences.

When I’m not eating, I’m sleeping, writing (which hopefully brings you joy, even at the cost of the people whose emails I don’t reply to), focusing on other projects and occasionally drinking. It’s a much better use of my time, and anyway, you and I both know that nothing good ever comes out of putting an effort in at work.

Alright, let’s talk on the level. You don’t think I truly believe any of this, do you? If I did, I’d be an absolute sham, a slob of the highest order. One has to try a leg in life, otherwise you’re just a barely beating heart, doing some dead person out of a body. It’s an affront to human spirit and endeavour if you don’t put some graft in, if not every day then at least enough to impress somebody every now and again.

As we know, Super Mario is not in the “now and again” business. The man is well experienced in putting smiles on millions of aces every time. But there’s something ain’t quite right for New Super Mario Bros 2 for 3DS. Whether we like it or not, the New Super Mario Bros games absolutely print money, which gives Nintendo plenty of excuse to get away with it. The first DS game was fine, a milestone in history even if it was never, ever going to be one of the greats. The Wii game had multiplayer and Yoshi, which probably still wasn’t enough to paper over the vastly unoriginal cracks.

The 3DS title is creative death. There’s probably not a single level you’ll remember, one to take away and look back upon with nostalgia. You might at least remember this game’s gimmick, which is to grab as many coins as possible against a running total that’ll quickly get into the hundreds of thousands, even over a million if you really have nothing better to do with your time.

In a very meta move, Nintendo elected to gouge money out of you with some DLC level packs as well, as if there were people out there begging for more. That to me is a bit like buying some functional appliance that gives you no joy, and then they charge you for the Styrofoam packaging on top. There’s not a jot that’s original about this game – even the original sin belongs to the DS title.

If you want to know how bad it is, check out the soundtrack; lifted almost entirely from NSMB Wii, but with even more bah-bahs added in if you could actually believe that. Not to mention the fact that the world aesthetics are still the same-old, same-old, and there’s only nine of them, six regular and three “hidden”. Defeating Bowser at the end of the lava world, World 6? It doesn’t sound right, it doesn’t look right, and it definitely doesn’t play right.

It doesn’t play hard either, because the difficulty here is at an almost record low – I reckon ages 2 and up could beat it now. You can thank your awful little cousins and the millions of low attention spanners like them for that. With the return of the Raccoon Leaf, you can even fly straight through the levels Mario World style, or I guess, Mario 3 style. That’s another nail in the difficulty coffin, although to be fair, I’d rate the Raccoon return as probably the best part of the game.

Otherwise it’s a counterfeit piece of art that doesn’t even attempt to rip off the Mona Lisa. It’s a riff on some modern art monstrosity, beyond belief, almost beyond parody. NSMB2 might find a place in your 3DS for two or three days, and never again after that. You’d be as well playing a NSMB DS romhack, at least some creative thought and affection will have gone into it. NSMB2 is so lazy, apathetic and uninvolved that I seriously have to wonder how a game like this gets out of bed in the mornings.

25 November 2022

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