Published on August 6th, 2012 | by Sgt. Mettool5
I Don’t Want A Million Coins
If you’ve ever played a Mario game for more than five minutes, you’ll know about coins. Those shimmering bits of faceless currency that float mysteriously in the air for reasons unknown, just waiting for mustached, red-capped heroes to waltz by and snag them for their own designs. Sometimes they give points, and sometimes they add up to an extra life. But now we’re tasked to collect a million of them in New Super Mario Bros. 2 and Nintendo is eager to hear what we have to say about such a daunting goal. But honestly, I don’t want a million coins.
Because I’d rather have just one hundred.
The bread and butter of any video game is collectibles. They give an incentive to do well and to collect as many insignificant objects as you can to attainer a higher goal. And nearly every game has them. Everything from Super Mario Bros. to Pac-Man to Katamari Damacy has a wealth of objects to collect for some reason or another, and they always aim to give you a sense of accomplishment.
But the important thing about collectibles is their value.
Take the original Super Mario Bros. for instance. As you know, collecting one hundred coins will grant the player an extra life. But it’s not quite as simple as it sounds. Compared to more modern Mario games, 1Up mushrooms were much more of a rarity in the original, making each and every life count. Hell, if you had five or more lives stockpiled in that game, you were the talk of the town. Not to mention that getting a Game Over in the game meant just that: You had to start right from the beginning again. You didn’t get a pat on the back and continue from where you left off. Extra lives actually meant something, and gaining those lives through coins was an absolute necessity.
So what is the value of one coin in Super Mario Bros.? 1/100th of a precious, luxurious extra life. And collecting a hundred was a goal not so easily obtained in a game where coins weren’t all too common. You’d jump every corner, hit every coin box, and explore every nook and cranny to obtain them. Coins were truly precious.
Occasionally through Mario’s career, coins would take on different roles. In Super Mario Bros. 2, they allowed you to play the slot machine. In Super Mario 64, they would restore your life and provide a hidden star if you collected a hundred of them. But no matter what role they took, they were always of some significant value.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 changes things up a bit. The game’s secondary goal is the collect a million of these little buggers. And that all sounds well and good on paper. I mean, why collect a hundred when you can collect a MILLION? Roll in the dough and be a millionaire! But honestly, it’s very much a case of “less is more” because each coin is now worth less than they were before. Now instead of precious collectibles that are 1/100th of a goal, you have vapid, empty objects that are worth 1/1,000,000th of a goal.
Some of you might be saying “Well wouldn’t you rather have a million dollars than one hundred dollars?” and that’s really not the type of logic to be using here. Imagine a world where one million pennies equated to a dollar. Pennies would be considered even more worthless than they are now, and nobody in their right mind would collect them. By the same logic, why should Mario (on that note, why not Wario?) collect one million coins for a single goal? It just doesn’t make sense to devalue them as much as they have.
I will admit this isn’t the first time Nintendo has devalued the coin. Yoshi’s Island DS comes to mind with swaths among swaths of coins lying about just waiting to be picked up. Hell, you would easily collect a couple dozen lives per level. But at least in that instance, you weren’t pressured to collect a million of them.
In the end, I’d rather have a hundred. I’d rather have collectibles that are precious, and not just something that you happen to run through to reach a flagpole.