Let me prefix this entry by saying that I’m loving New Super Mario Bros 2 right now. No, it doesn’t necessarily do anything drastic with the classic Mario formula but, since the series is basically a trip down memory lane, I don’t see it as a bad thing. The coin rush mode and the emphasis on collecting coins taps right into my obsessive collector mentality, so I’m certainly enjoying that aspect. The one flaw that keeps nagging at me is the co-op mode. It just feels like it could have been something more than it is. Right now it’s just 2 players running through the same levels as the main game, nothing extra to achieve, with the second player being severely hampered by the single-screen approach of the game. You wouldn’t need to make drastic changes to the gameplay mechanics to make the co-op more compelling; you could just introduce a couple of items to enhance what’s already there.
Silver Co-Op Coins
Anyone who’s played a Mario game recently has collected the Star Coins in the game. There’s three per level and collecting a certain amount can unlock new paths or item houses. Silver co-op coins could be used as something for players to strive for when they’re playing through in the co-op mode (obviously ;p). These would be coins that are impossible to obtain without the assistance of a second player. Whether it’s a warp pipe that can only be accessed by two players at once, P-switches that need to be pressed by one player so the other can pass a barrier, or areas that can only be scaled by carefully timing jumps off each other, there are a multitude of ways to implement these into the game.
Now, they wouldn’t effect what the player can achieve in the single player campaign. Everything that you would normally do should still be there. The co-op coins would only effect things in that particular mode. They could unlock special co-op only levels and item houses, the same way the Star Coins act in the regular mode.
This one might be a little more drastic but we could introduce an item block that could only be smashed by two players at once. Inside this special item block would be some sort of new co-op power up that would fuse the two players together for a short period of time (or longer depending on what it is). The two players would then need to work together to bypass some sort of obstacle that has been designed for that particular power up. Things like a new flying power up that lets you fly higher than normal, a new jumping power up that increases jump height with proper co-op button timing, or maybe a giant turtle shell power up that lets you plow through “indestructible” walls/enemies, could work for this one. Any of these new items could work in conjunction with the Silver co-op coins to increase the replayability of the current co-op mode.
There are a lot of ways to improve the current co-op mode (get rid of the single-screen approach for one). The things I listed here are just a couple of quick ideas I had while playing today that I thought stayed true to the older style of Mario Bros gameplay. If anyone has something different or a way to build/improve on what I’ve written, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.