New Super Mario Bros. 2 Recap

We bring you up to speed on the latest additions to the next portable Mario, including cooperative play and the hidden stages.

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Complete Cooperative Play

New Super Mario Bros. 2 represents the first portable Mario game in which players can tackle the entire game cooperatively. This connectivity is local wireless only, however, and requires that both players own a copy of the game. If you meet both of these conditions, there are a few bonuses to enjoy.

If you look at the screen below, you'll notice a small multiplayer icon next to the coin counter. When playing together, Mario and Luigi gain twice the value for each coin they collect. Combined with the abundance of coins throughout each level, this means you can easily reach coin counts in the triple digits.

When playing cooperatively, the coins you collect are added to your personal overall coin total--which tallies up coins collected both online and in single-player. The overarching goal of the game--in addition to saving Princess Peach, of course--is to reach 1,000,000 coins.

What happens when you reach that goal you'll just have to see for yourself.

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Battle for Leadership

As in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Mario and Luigi can collide with each other when playing cooperatively in this game. While this is still a great way to harass the other person, the developers have also added in a slight competitive element.

When playing together, one character is designated as the leader--noted by a red arrow, as shown above Mario. The leader has control of the camera, meaning if the non-leader character runs past the current boundaries of the screen, the camera will not follow him. However, the designation of leader is by no means permanent.

In fact, it's almost a game within a game. The first player to pass through a pipe, doorway, checkpoint, or other transition will become the new leader. If you need a more aggressive solution, using the butt-stomp attack on the other player will transfer leadership to the attacker--as well as earn some nasty glances from his friend.

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The Rainbow Road

What would a Mario game be without a few hidden stages? In New Super Mario Bros. 2 they take the form of rainbow stages: colorful, coin-centric levels devoid of enemies, but filled with gold. Naturally, the way to unlock these stages was a closely guarded secret we couldn't weasel out of the game's representatives.

The general sense we got was that these stages aren't tied to specific levels, but rather appear once certain overarching conditions are met. Once you complete (or fail) a rainbow stage, it vanishes from the map until the next condition is met--so be sure to make the most of them.

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Rushing for the Gold

We've already covered the cooperative mode in this game, so let's jump to the competitive. Coin Rush is the game's online competitive multiplayer mode focused on speed and, of course, coins. When you start this mode you can work on either setting a record or breaking one.

The goal in both is to earn the highest possible coin total across a back-to-back series of three levels. If you're setting a record, then you start by selecting one of three level packs, which in turn pulls three random levels from different worlds in the game depending on which pack you selected.

If you're attempting to break another person's record, then you will be running through the exact same three stages that player was randomly assigned.

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Every Coin Possible

Getting the best score isn't as simple as collecting coins. Well, actually, it is--but earning all those coins can be tricky. In Coin Rush you are awarded extra coins for collecting 1UP mushrooms, for collecting all three star coins in a stage, and (most importantly) for touching the very top of the flagpole at the end. This is especially crucial, since touching the top of the flagpole doubles the number of coins you earned in that stage.

You're also on a very strict time limit--one much shorter than in any other mode. You are awarded extra time for passing the checkpoint flag, but if you try to play these stages slow and safe, you will not make it to the finish. And a Game Over means you lose all the coins you've collected and must start the challenge over from the beginning.

Basically, this mode is teaching you how to become a Super Mario speed runner.

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Run, Do Not Walk

I'd wager someone at Nintendo has heard of a little game called Canabalt.

Instead of simply blasting Mario to the next area, the warp cannons in New Super Mario Bros. 2 propel the plumber horizontally, sending him into a high-speed dash. Mario then travels into a special warp stage where he must time his jumps extra carefully if he hopes to make it to the end.

In these stages Mario cannot be slowed down or stopped. However, if you are having trouble finishing a stage, you can use the raccoon tail to propel Mario up and over the majority of the stage. Since Mario is always running, his P-Wing meter remains constantly full, making extended flight with the tail a breeze.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 will be released on the Nintendo 3DS on August 19.

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