Coins are ubiquitous in Mario games, but their function has remained relatively constant. Who can deny their allure? The collectibles are a little different this time and just that small change can affect the way the whole game is played.
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For one thing, it’s a Mario that’s concerned with score once again; that arcade vestigial tail that’s been dragged around the 2D games since the series’ Donkey Kong origins has finally found a new kind of relevance. Not that the overall score wedged in amongst the clutter of the touchscreen has gotten any more important, of course. This time, it’s all about your coin grand total that builds up as you play, and the separate, much smaller, cash count that marks your best haul for each individual level.
Wherever you find the coins in this game, they generally represent a complication: a prize to tempt you away from your headlong pelt to the finish line. Mario’s coins have historically been used to lead the way. Here, it’s the absolute reverse, and they can’t wait to guide you into trouble.
You’ll replay those levels because you want to see how many coins each one can contain: you’ll find yourself shaking them, in effect, until nothing else comes out. It helps, of course, that the gold is hidden around the place with typical Super Mario flair. 2D Marios have always been quietly musical games, ever since Super Mario 3 decided to sync its brick sparkle effects with the jaunty beat of the soundtrack, so it should be no surprise that the shimmering collectables in the latest instalment often appear in rhythmical bursts.