Nintendo has made a point of emphasizing that Mario and Luigi will need to collect one million coins in the upcoming New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the Nintendo 3DS, but considering how plentiful extra lives have been in recent traditional Mario titles, why do the brothers need so many coins? What's the point of packing the Mushroom Kingdom coffers with extra gold? Over at Poison Mushroom, David Oxford explores the need for compulsive greed.
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.
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.”
I tend to ignore the large swaths of coins these days, as there are plenty of opportunities to earn 1-Ups without grabbing each and every last coin like we had to do back in the old days of limited color palettes and beepy music. I collect what I can with ease and leave the rest behind. Why take a risk on a grouping of three coins near a bottomless pit when I can go to a green mushroom house, play a consequenceless mini-game, and collect eight 1-Up mushrooms?
I'm not the only one to think that a Mario game built around collecting as many coins as possible feels more like a Wario game, and Oxford goes on to reason why Wario's presence in NSMB2 isn't necessarily required, but the more I think about it, the more I wish that Wario were the second playable character instead of Luigi. Luigi plays very similarly to Mario, but Wario's methods have become different than those of his colleagues over time. Imagine a traditional Mario adventure with the running and jumping on Goombas that you could also play as Wario with his dashing body slams. It would essentially be two games in one thanks to the differing styles of each protagonist. Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog titles have been doing this for years. Think back to the old Sonic & Knuckles formula, for instance, that gave players the choice of mastering Sonic's speed or Knuckles's wall climbing and air gliding tactics. It would require some extra work on Nintendo's part to make it work, but I know it could be done and I believe the result would be memorably fantastic.