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Nobody does it better than 'Super Mario'

Originally called "Jumpman," Mario debuted in 1981 and

Originally called "Jumpman," Mario debuted in 1981 and has remained one of Nintendo's signature characters ever since. (Credit: AP)

There are two moments in time as a kid I would do almost anything to relive. One would be to go back to the those summer days as of Little League and to have a catch with my father. The other…the first day I played "Super Mario Bros. 3".

I can still remember the day my dad surprised me with a trip to 'Mr. Roberts' Video" store and bought it for me. Eagerly removing the cartridge from it's yellow box and popping it into my Nintendo Entertainment System for the first time nothing could have prepared me for what was going to end up being best game I'd have ever played.

Gone is the NES and my childhood, but Nintendo created a time machine for gamers like me who still clamor for side scrolling awesome. The "New Super Mario Bros." games have been just that. Mixing the color and excitement of today with the simplicities of yesteryear. Now the series has made its jump from 2-D to 3-D on the Nintendo 3DS with the "New Super Mario Bros. 2". And best of all, 'Raccoon Mario' is BACK!

According to Nintendo, "New Super Mario Bros. 2" has emerged as the best-selling video game of August.  Not a whole lot has been updated since Mario's last "Super" adventure, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Any major rehauling of the series would be against the whole reason for why they are so successful. The smile on my face playing "New Super Mario Bros. 2" brought back fond memories because of the gameplay and presentation. It's Mario!

Running through each map dodging fireballs and leaping on top of goombas felt like Mario was laying down notes to a beautifully strung symphony. The level design is just that well crafted. As big of a fan as I am of Sonic, this is why slow and steady won the console race. Trotting through the maps is visually rewarding and worth the exploration to find hidden paths and new ways to rack up the coinage.

Speaking of coins, players will see a LOT of them. So many that it won't be hard to stock up on lives. "New Super Mario Bros. 2"'s goal outside of just being a fun video game is to see just how many players can reach the milestone achievement of one million collected coins. One play alone, though, will not be enough to get there, but I did walk away with a fairly large lump sum. Getting to one hundred on a map and hearing that classic sound effect chime in was always a crowning video game moment each play through, but here that anticipation is lost because earning extra lives isn't an obstacle as it use to be.

A few new power-ups are thrown into the mix to scoop up more coins. The 'Gold Block' appears after hitting coin blocks at least 10 times repeatedly. The Gold Block can then be worn to produce streaming coins as you keep moving across the map. The 'Gold Flower' first appears in world 2-1 and, when collected, Mario fires his own Midas Touch at enemies. Golden fireballs spray across the screen creating splash damage also distributing even more coins.

Finally for a feast of coins, finding a 'Gold Ring' will trigger music to change and all enemies during it's duration to turn to gold. Multiple enemies defeated offer cumulative bonus effects in the amount of coins obtained. Trails of coins can be manufactured and even Mario himself, when in gold form, can earn more coins.

The coins become part of the map rather than a side quest to boost individual scores. In fact, there is an entire mode to play in an effort to see just how many you can snag under a time limit. Adding local co-op to the mix makes the mad dash more exciting to play, but there is no online for the mode. A shame, but I've grown accustomed to this with Nintendo so it's not entirely a disappointment. The 3-D gaming is however, as blurring out the artsy backgrounds took away from the game rather than adding advantage of the gaming perspective.

"New Super Mario Bros. 2" for the Nintendo 3DS is a must have for gamers of any generation. Although not very challenging, the game still captures Mario and Luigi just as Nintendo did on the NES in its purest form. Let us know how many coins you can get as you work your way through ghost houses and castles looking for the always-missing Princess Peach. Seriously, we might need Liam Neeson on the job to keep tabs on this 'Taken' lady in pink.  

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