Title: Super Mario Maker 2
Genre: Platforming/Creation Tool
Available On: Nintendo Switch
Official Site: https://supermariomaker.nintendo.com/
Release Date: Jun 28, 2019
Where to Buy it: Nintendo Switch eShop
It’s rare for a company to come up with a concept like Super Mario Maker. Handing the reins of the most popular video game franchise in the world over to the players and allowing them to make the levels of their dreams seems like such a risk to take. Thankfully, Nintendo manages to pull it off with style and has made what I consider my perfect video game.
Super Mario Maker originally released for the Nintendo Wii U, and was one of the top titles for the system, selling over 4 million copies- being topped by only Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart. Hundreds of thousands of levels were created by players, leading to endless hours of fun. With the release of Super Mario Maker 2 on Switch, a much larger portion of players can experience all of the fun that the Wii U original offered- but with a greater selection of tools and toys to play with.
If you’re not familiar with Super Mario Maker, it’s essentially a toolkit that allows you to create exactly the Mario levels of your dreams- or your friends’ nightmares. Using the tools in the game, you can place blocks, items, enemies, and terrain onto a blank canvas, then share your brand new level online with your friends with the use of a short 9-digit code. The original Wii U game relied almost entirely on player-created levels to provide the content, but Super Mario Maker 2 includes over 100 single-player campaign levels that you can play even if you don’t have an internet connection. They’re framed within a fun campaign mode that has you rebuilding Princess Peach’s castle. These levels teach you not only clever ways to use all of Mario’s moves and abilities, but also work as a showcase to introduce you to all of the different tools available for level creation.
Creating levels in Super Mario Maker 2 really is the star of the show. You can use over 140 different elements within 5 different themes based on previous Mario games. In those themes, you can choose from 8 different environments, each with their own unique musical themes, leading for a limitless amount of combinations and configurations, to the point that no two courses created by players will ever be the same. With the move from the Wii U to the Switch, players lose access to the touch-centric Gamepad for level creation, leading to the user interface being completely overhauled. Gone are the Mario Paint-style taskbars; instead items and course elements are chosen from a series of radial menus, and the clunky method of shaking objects to swap their ‘modes’ has also been eliminated, instead of having a popup menu to select options for your items. All of these changes add up to a much more fluid course creation experience while using a controller. While the Switch is in handheld mode, however, touch control is still available; being almost the preferred way to create levels.
The only downside to this is that for some reason if you’re in handheld mode using just the attached joycons, the control options are limited- leading to touch being the ONLY option for level creation. This is very inconvenient and a large oversight in my opinion, as there might be occasions where touch controls might not be ideal. With that said, course creation has never been better, no matter what control scheme you prefer to use.
But what do you do with courses created in the game? Super Mario Maker 2 has a wide selection of options for playing those levels- whether it’s through sharing level codes with your friends or social media or playing the Endless Challenge modes. Mario Maker has an algorithm that divides levels up into 4 distinct difficulty levels based on the level’s clear rate, then those levels are put into 4 similarly-named queues- Easy, Normal, Expert and Super Expert. You can select any of these 4 modes to play an endless amount of those levels- until you run out of lives. Once you do, you start over from the beginning. There’s an incentive to get as far as possible, as there is a worldwide ranking to see who can clear the most levels without getting a game over. Chasing that #1 position is quite addictive, and gives a much better incentive to play each mode than the original game’s 100-Mario Challenge.
Super Mario Maker 2 also adds a new feature into the game- Multiplayer. You can choose to play a level in either Versus or Co-op, with worldwide rankings for both. Versus mode allows you and 3 random players to race to the flagpole at the end of the level. First place wins and earns ranking points while the other three players lose ranking points based on their placement in the level. Co-op multiplayer allows you and three random players to play a single level, solving puzzles that otherwise would be impossible alone. If one player makes it to the end, you’re a success and earn ranking points. At the time of this review, Super Mario Maker 2 does not have a feature that allows you to play with friends online, though Nintendo plans to add this in a future update. Another multiplayer feature in the game allows for two players to create a level together, though this feature is local only.
Verdict: Super Mario Maker 2 takes the original Wii U game and adds so much more content, personality, and flavor and wraps it up into a package with the most incredible presentation that I could ever imagine. It’s modern Nintendo refined to perfection- a simple idea polished to a mirror shine. While the first game in the series was fantastic as well, the sequel being on a platform that people actually purchased means that not only will more people experience this game, but also that the sheer amount of creativity and originality will reach new heights.
- Tons and tons of new tools to create levels
- Fantastic new music written by Koji Kondo
- A virtually endless amount of brand new levels
- Control options in handheld mode for level creation are confusing
- Multiplayer matches can often be very laggy
- Co-op course creation is local-only; no online