If you're anything like the members of the Nintendo Life team, you're probably well on your way through New Super Mario Bros. 2, perhaps even beaten it, and are currently scrabbling around levels looking for elusive star coins and secrets. This title may hand out extra lives like they've gone out of fashion, but that doesn't mean that it's an easy game to beat 100%, far from it.
Of course the fun is in the discovery, but in our early time with the game we've stumbled across some little curiosities, and thought we'd let you know a couple of the less spoilerific examples. We're not claiming these are the greatest secrets known to Mario-kind, but may be fun for those yet to discover them for themselves.
Play as Luigi in single player
A matter of days ago we lamented the fate of the long suffering Luigi, always in the shadows of his famous brother. While that's still the case in this game, you can play as Luigi, outside of co-op, and give him much deserved time in the limelight. When you've beaten the main game — Worlds one to six — go to the file select screen and hold down the shoulder buttons as you select your save. When it starts up Luigi will be there, and though he doesn't have the higher leap that we've grown to love in the Super Mario Galaxy games, it's still nice to give him some game time. You could also do this in New Super Mario Bros on DS, so veterans have probably already been running around in green by now.
Keep those profile stars sparkling
If you've beaten the game, then you should have a golden star proudly sitting on your save profile; if you're a Mario ninja, you probably have a bigger collection. If you've played through the game without using the golden Super Leaf, meanwhile, then your stars will sparkle from sheer happiness and Mario magic. If, however, you succumbed to temptation and used the ultimate power up, that glee and magic will be lost forever, leaving you with plain old gold stars. These stars don't lose their sparkle if the Super Leaf appears on a stage — which is likely to happen to you at least once — but only if you actually use it. Considering that you'll likely have enough lives to make a family of cats jealous, surely you can resist its charms? (An exception, as raised in the comments below, is if the block appears and you save and quit the game without finishing the level. Finish what you've started!)
These are barely the tip, of the tip, of the iceberg. There are plenty of secrets and achievements to chase in this game, and as our New Super Mario Bros. 2 review suggests, we think you'll have a lot of fun tracking them all down.