July 05, 2006
No matter how great a game may be, the time ultimately comes when players grow bored of its offerings and feel the need to move on to another adventure. I was reaching that point with New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS over the weekend, but then came word that a secret push button code had been discovered/leaked that unlocked the secret Challenge Mode. Hurray! A whole new mode to explore in one of my favorite games of the year! Unfortunately, all this code does is prohibit Mario from backtracking in levels, turning the general gameplay into something closer to the original Super Mario Bros. Once something scrolls off the left side of the screen, it's gone. After exploring a few levels with the code enabled, I moved on to another game.
On the one hand I'm glad that Nintendo included a secret code that was supposed to extend the game's life. One of the best aspects of gaming is believing that one has discovered all there is to see in a game, and then the game says "Surprise! Now try this!". The Legend of Zelda had its second quest, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night had its inverted castle, and even Kirby Canvas Curse had additional playable characters that mixed up the gameplay after the final curtain fell. On the other hand, New Super Mario Bros.'s Challenge Mode is rather weak. I can't recall ever backtracking when I was playing the game for the first time. Inhibiting that ability didn't do anything for me, as there's really no point in going backwards in a level (especially once everything has been collected, which is a prerequisite for enabling Challenge Mode). While I appreciate the effort in extending the adventure, the end result falls flat this time. Good idea, Nintendo, but bad execution.