New Super Mario Bros. 2 feels like any of the other games in the New sub-series. The look of it, the audio, the themes of the worlds – they're all safe, familiar comfort blankets that hit the same beats as the rest of the family. That is, until you encounter the central focus that Nintendo is betting its coin on: this time, Mario really loves gold. There's a decent chance that you will, too.
The demo began with a fairly pedestrian romp through a seaside world. You run left to right, jump about a bit, smash some blocks – the usual. It's fun as ever, and if you've ever enjoyed a 2D Mario title before it's probable that you'll like this too. But with a new emphasis on money come changes that alter the way you play.
As well as the familiar red coin-summoning crimson rings, there are also golden hoops in the air. Dart through one and all enemies turn shiny for a limited time, with scores of coins trailing behind Cheep-Cheeps as they splash in and out of the water. Suddenly it's not just about killing enemies any more; it's also about following their movements to collect as many coins as possible.
Elsewhere, get a bit too excited when smashing a certain concealed block and you end up with the brick stuck squarely on your head. It spills out coins whenever you walk, even more when you dash. The endless jingling of coins is more satisfying than you might first think.
The best new power up, though, was hidden amongst the Egyptian pyramids of the second demo level. By grabbing a golden flower, Mario can plate himself in the precious metal as casually as clipping on a raccoon tail – which you can also do here – or chomping down on a size-doubling mushroom.
It all goes a bit Super Midas Bros. after this; by hurling out fireball-like projectiles, you can turn every destructible block or enemy around you into heaps of golden coins. Keep hammering the button and the screen soon fills with more money than you could ever hope for. The combination of utter chaos as parts of the world collapse into gold and the very ground becoming your own personal bank vault makes you feel like a million dollars.
Without these additions, it'd be pretty difficult to reach the goal of one million coins that you're supposed to be stretching for. In the third level, a vertical climb up through a castle tower, there were blocks that cycled through different coin amounts; you had to time your jump to get the most money out of it, all the while dodging Dry Bones and navigating snaking green platforms that were constantly on the move. At the very top of the tower lurked a boss battle against returning enemy Reznor; two of them span in a circle on question mark blocks, and it was very easy to dispatch both by jumping into the ground beneath them.
A recent Iwata Asks article revealed that New Super Mario Bros. 2 was worked on primarily by younger staff while more experienced team members put time into New Super Mario Bros. U. The coins aside, it seems quite close to the other New Super Mario Bros. titles so far, but perhaps with an injection of new talent it'll reveal itself to be a fresh experience in full form. Thankfully we won't have to wait too long to find out if the new designers have the golden touch to make New Super Mario Bros. 2 stand out.