Whether or not Nintendo is aware of the irony in creating a Mario sequel in which the plumber possesses "the power to monetise anything and everything", you'd have to admit that New Super Mario Bros 2 has a doozy of a hook.
Though you're tasked with saving perennial kidnapee, Princess Peach, once more, Mario's other objective is a little less altruistically motivated. His quest? To collect a cool million coins, no less.
That would take an inordinate amount of time in any other Mario game, but not here. Bounce on musical note platforms and you'll produce a cascade of coins. Lob a shell into a group of brick blocks, and dozens of glimmering discs will appear. Chuck fireballs into a pipe and they'll magically emerge as a sparkling shower of gold.
In a nod to Super Mario 3D Land, there's even a moment in which Mario gets his noggin stuck in a block. While that was used as a cheeky sight gag in the older game, here the cash-spitting brick represents a handy way of topping up your total. If that wasn't enough, a golden fire flower enables you to throw balls of flame that turn every Goomba, Koopa and brick they touch into coins.
It's a smart, compelling way to further differentiate the game from New Super Mario Bros U, but there are other fresh features besides. Coin Rush mode gives you just a single life to complete three courses, chosen at random from stage clusters graded by difficulty level.
The object here is to collect as many coins as possible while completing this trio of courses, at which point you can save your score as StreetPass data in order to challenge other 3DS owners when you're out and about. Download their data on your return and you'll get to play the same levels, while their ever-present coin tally adds extra pressure.
It's a really neat idea that plays on the naturally competitive streak that lurks within the breast of every single gamer, encouraging replay value and making it much easier to reach that all-important million-coin marker.
That, and the ability to play the entire campaign cooperatively, should make this another surefire 3DS smash for Nintendo. In which case, the publisher is most likely to hit that colossal tally well before any of its players do.