At Nintendo’s E3 2012 press conference, two new Mario games were shown off: New Super Mario Bros. U for Wii U and New Super Mario Bros. 2 for Nintendo 3DS. And make no mistake, I’m excited for both; New Super Mario Bros. U looks and is said to be bringing back some classic elements from Super Mario World, including baby Yoshis with different abilities in regards to their color and a more fully-integrated world map.

New Super Mario Bros. 2, however, has some mild controversy surrounding it. People are not only saying it looks too similar to the previous New Super Mario Bros. games (there are differences, though you really have to look for some of them), but are also questioning the in-game goal/mechanic of collecting one million coins.

But despite that, I’m actually looking forward to New Super Mario Bros. 2 more than New Super Mario Bros. U. Why?

Because coins finally matter again.

“‘The all ighty ollar?’ Oh, I get it! Heh heh heh…”

This is probably going to speak more to the oldschool gamers, those who actually grew up on the original Super Mario Bros. and its successors when they came out. Surely some of you remember playing the game and going for every last coin you could grab, and perhaps breaking every brick block along the way, too. This was in part due not only for points (back when it was still thought they mattered), but also in acquiring valuable extra lives.

As time has gone on and we’ve played the games over and over, some would say that the games have gotten easier. In my opinion, we’ve just gotten better; we know the tricks, both good and bad, and how to capitalize on and overcome them. Regardless, extra lives have begun to be handed out like candy, and as a result, there has been less reason to collect any coins, much less every coin.

Seriously, if you were playing right now, would you bother getting all of these? Or just the ones you could jump through before hitting the next pipe out of town?

Some people feel that the 1UP mushrooms should be retired, as they’ve become nearly pointless due to how easy they are to obtain, and players should simply be given unlimited lives (personally, I feel they’re too iconic to do away with entirely). As a result, collecting coins seems less important as well, save for in some 3D Mario games, where they restore your depleted life meter. And even then, unless there is a star to be had for collecting them, they are typically ignored unless needed. And with the one million coins goal set in New Super Mario Bros. 2, people are feeling that the coins are even more pointless now.

But now, after all this time, collecting coins has a purpose again. What that purpose is for the player, we don’t know; perhaps Bowser is changing his tactics and holding Peach for ransom? That seems a little odd, however, since the past 25 years has seen Mario storm Castle Koopa and simply take her back. Not to mention that it would imply Bowser would be ready to give her up for a price, which seems unlike him, given his affinity for her as well. Of course, he could be planning to double-cross Mario after he pays up and have one heck of a honeymoon…

On the developers’ side, Producer Takashi Tezuka explained to IGN that their thinking was “we really want people to come back to this game again and again, we want them to get their money’s worth and play it for a long time, so let’s make it so you can actually collect a million coins.”

The other point some people bring up is that Mario is not the greedy sort, and that perhaps a game with a goal of collecting a million coins is better suited to Wario. However, this strikes me as faulty for a couple of reasons.

For one thing, nothing says that Wario can’t go for a million, two million, or a billion coins on his next time out. The goal in most, if not all Wario games is to collect as much money as you can anyway, so the only difference there is having a set number. And regardless of whether he does or doesn’t, Mario games and Wario games may have some similarities, but typically tend to play very differently. Do you really see Wario playing the same way when you watch that video at the top of the article?

The other reason is simply because Mario has been collecting coins for a long, long time, well before Wario was even conceived. Coins were in the original Mario Bros., they were in Wrecking Crew, and of course, just about every game with Super Mario in the title (and then some). Mario has gathered tons of coins over his many adventures, enough to open a toy factory, a theme park, and who knows what else.

Ever wonder why it was called “Mario Kart” or “Mario Tennis” or “Mario Anything-Else?” He probably had the money to fund it.

You didn’t think any of this was free, did you?

So New Super Mario Bros. 2 doesn’t strike me as odd or pointless at all. Instead, it instills a new excitement in me to want to go after every single coin I see, something I’ve not done for a long time in a Mario game (save for maybe Mario Kart 7). I have fond memories of not just trying to reach the end of the level, but to find every hidden nook and cranny which might be hiding a power-up, a 1UP, or even just a coin block, and I look forward to that kind of hunting again.

I will express one concern, though: After this game, what then? Will this be a one-and-done gimmick for this game only? Or might we be witnessing the rebirth of coin collecting, used in such a way that it will be employed by Mario games for years to come?

We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, I need to find some overalls with bigger pockets…

  • Lewanut

    Requiring the user to collect a million coins is absolutely ridiculous, which is why it works perfectly for Mario. Looking forward to this game.