Super Mario Maker 2 Review
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
I love level creation in games, but I’m woefully bad at it, lacking the basic creativity required to make something that even functions, let alone is playable. This is why I enjoyed the first Super Mario Maker, as it gave you all the basic tools you needed, yet made them stupendously easy to use, slowly giving you more tools as you gained more prowess.
This simple philosophy has carried over into the sequel, the aptly named Super Mario Maker 2, along with a few new surprises and things I’m shocked weren’t there before. One of these being a Story Mode involving Undodog essentially blowing up Peach’s Castle and Mario taking it entirely upon himself to raise the funds required to rebuild it.
Under the leadership of Chief Toadette, the Big Red takes on little jobs from Taskmaster Toad in the form of little levels that show off EVERYTHING this game can do. The purpose of these levels are pretty obvious in that they’re there for player inspiration, but when some of these levels are as bare-faced in how clever they are, it’s pretty easy to look past that.
And sweet lord are there a lot of things you can do here with that ‘player inspiration’.
With most of the tools available immediately in this title, it’s bewildering, but once you spend some time with Course Maker (or the fantastic tutorials), you realise how intuitive it all is. All of the options are grouped by basic mechanic, like Gizmos and Enemies, and with the choice of buttons or touch screen (easily the best), you’ll be making Mario levels in absolutely no time.
You begin with the setting across five Mario worlds, including the new addition of Super Mario 3D World, before choosing your theme that will change the background and level elements. Now, however, you can also choose day or night for your level, which can have some incredible effects, like altering gravity or movement options. Then you add your level features.
If you’ve played the original title, all of the gadgets and elements from the base game and its extensive DLC updates are all present, including the locked door mechanic I personally loved and put in EVERY level. Along with this already robust set of tools, there are a host of new options such as little grabber cranes and even a few complete surprises to unlock.
But it’s not just Mario joining the fun this time because Super Mario Maker 2 allows levels to have up to four players in them at once, meaning that Luigi, Toad, and Toadette are all dragged along for the ride too. Not only that, but the Course maker now allows the levels to be made co-operatively with two players, which works pretty well if you’re the co-operative sort.
Super Mario Maker 2 is as absurdly experimental as ever. With the host of themes and new mechanics, as well as the day/night mechanic too, you can create your very own Mushroom Kingdom masterpiece. Then, if you want to add more challenge, you can add Clear Conditions, forcing the player to play your way. The sheer scope of choice here is staggering.
Once you’ve made a level that you’re somewhat proud of, you can upload it for others to play, adding ‘Tags’ to make your level easier to find. These are things like “Puzzle-Solving” or “Auto-Scroll” and are a godsend, just saying. Then, the real game begins with Course World, the online library of player-made monstrosities for your playing pleasure (or not as the case may be).
Whereas finishing the Story mode is roughly 8-10 hours or so game time, Course World opens up near limitless game time with a barrage of levels to play with varying levels of difficulty, complexity, and enjoyment. You can choose to search through them using the Tags, just play the popular ones, or jump into the Endless Mode, stringing together successive levels by difficulty.
All of the rating systems return from the first title, so you can like and dislike levels, as well as leaving comments on them with during the levels or at the end, complete with cute stickers. So, Super Mario Maker 2 is looking to keep up the community focus found in the previous game, just with a greater allowance for filtering out levels you might not enjoy.
Aesthetically, there’s exactly what you would expect here. All the polish, all the nostalgia, and all the dumb sound effects that were littered throughout the original game. You can add music segments to your levels now, so you can have a racing level with Super Mario Kart music. Otherwise, if you have played the original Super Mario Maker, nothing has really changed here for better or worse.
Honestly, there’s just so much to see and do in this game and, with the release this week, there will only be more levels to play. The additions to the creation tools are going to no doubt result in some fantastic levels once the public start creating. But, if you aren't a Mario fan, or aren't particularly creative, Super Mario Maker 2 won't really hold much for you.
This is truly the definitive version of this concept, combining the charm of your every day Nintendo title with the galaxy brain creativity of the Nintendo fanbase, with so many tools and tricks. The only flaw with Super Mario Maker lies with its short Story Mode and personally that’s overcome by what will essentially be endless player-made DLC levels, but that won't be immediate.