Video Game Review: Go for the gold in New Super Mario Bros. 2

Mario can grow to super size as he quests for coins and contends with familiar enemies.
Mario can grow to super size as he quests for coins and contends with familiar enemies. Nintendo

Coins, coins coins. They’ve been all over the place in “Super Mario” games from the very beginning. Collect 100, and you get an extra life. They’re so familiar that you probably don’t give them a second thought.

You will now. “New Super Mario Bros. 2” has coins on the brain in a way no other “Super Mario” game has before. There are thousands of them. They pop out of blocks by the dozen. They pour out of pipes. They come in tens and fifties and hundreds. And you still get an extra life every time you hit the century mark — you’d have to try pretty hard or play really badly to ever run out.

Mario jumps, stomps and climbs his way through levels filled with enemies and obstacles, but he doesn’t have to do so alone —a second player with a 3DS and the game can team up and take simultaneous control of Luigi for cooperative play.

The main goal of the game is to get to the end of its various worlds and defeat the bosses guarding them (the familiar Koopa-lings, first introduced in “Super Mario Bros. 3”).

But there’s a meta-goal as well — to collect a million coins. The game keeps track of progress toward this mark — including coins collected by other players on the same copy of the game — and you might be surprised to see how slowly that total inches up considering how much gold you gather.

New emphasis on gold aside, much of the game treads familiar ground. Busting blocks from below often yields coins or items. Super Mushrooms make Mario twice as big, Mega Mushrooms make him huge and Mini Mushrooms make him tiny.

Stars make him invincible for a few seconds, Fire Flowers let him throw fireballs, and Super Leaves give him a raccoon tail and the power of brief flight. And new to this game, the Gold Flower turns Mario golden (or his brother silver) and gives his fireballs the power to transform blocks they hit into golden coins.

The levels vary from hills to beaches to forests, from haunted houses to trap-laden fortresses with rivers of lava. There’s no shortage of challenges to overcome, but for all that the game isn’t especially hard, and the abundance of extra lives means that a game over screen isn’t something you’ll see very often.

Apart from the main game there’s the Coin Rush mode, in which you take Mario through a randomly selected set of levels against a tight time limit and with only one life, the goal being to grab as many coins as possible along the way.