Review: Super Mario Maker 2 – Exceptional Craftmanship
Released worldwide for the Nintendo Switch on 28th June, Super Mario Maker 2 is a side-scrolling platformer that allows you to customize and create your own Mario levels. Its predecessor, Super Mario Maker, was released on the Wii-U and 3DS back in 2015, and there didn’t seem to be much room for improvement or a need for a second title. However, Super Mario Maker 2 builds upon and perfects what made the original game such a joy to play by bringing in even more customization, more assets to play around with, and a story mode that’s full of challenge and charm.
Construction In Progress
Don’t let the name of the game fool you. Super Mario Maker 2 isn’t just about building your own levels, there’s also a Story Mode to keep you entertained if game design isn’t your forte. The plot is simple, just like any other Mario game: Peach’s castle is blown to smithereens and it’s up to you to rebuild it by playing through over one hundred pre-made levels to raise enough funds to pay for repairs.
Despite its simplicity, Super Mario Maker 2’s plot is not without its charm, with some of the best bits being when you’re talking with various characters in the game on your wander around the hub world. The conversations you encounter with certain characters is amusing and definitely has some laugh-out-loud moments.
The levels in the Story Mode are surprisingly quite challenging, particularly when you’re nearing the end of it. Although they are a little shorter than the levels you’d find in a normal Mario game, they’re still fun and well-designed nonetheless. As well as offering standard platforming segments, the levels also bring different ideas into the mix, such as piloting Koopa’s flying car through a series of obstacles not dissimilar to those airplane levels in Cuphead. There is enough content and challenge in the Story Mode to keep you occupied for around eight to ten hours (depending on your skills).
Even though the Story Mode isn’t the main highlight of Super Mario Maker 2, it’s a great bonus that should have been included in the first entry.
The number of assets at your fingertips in Super Mario Maker 2 is impressive, and there are so many more design options to choose from than were in the previous instalment. You can really let your creativity loose to build any type of level you could imagine.
Building levels is fairly straightforward. In the first Super Mario Maker, using the Wii-U’s touchpad made creating levels a breeze. There were concerns whether designing courses be just as easy on the Switch, but these worries quickly diminish. It doesn’t take too long to get to grips with the controls in Super Mario Maker 2 before it becomes second nature.
To build land, all you need to do is tap the land icon and drag it to your desired position. This is the same for adding in enemies to your level. If you were worried that making levels in Super Mario Maker 2 might be a bit too complicated, then you’ll be pleased to know that controls are incredibly accessible, even with all the different options available.
The number of things you can do when building your own levels is overwhelming. You can add slopes, karts, water, pipes, bosses, items, secret rooms, and a whole lot more. The possibilities are endless. Want to make a 2D Mario Kart time-trial level? You can. Want to build a level that’s just boss fights where you play as Cat Mario? Go ahead.
You can flick between five Mario Game Styles: Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, New Super Mario Bros. U, and Super Mario 3D World. If you’re halfway through building a level in one Game Style and then decide you want to change to another one, then you can easily do this without losing any progress.
You also have access to a large assortment of Course Themes, such as Ground Sky, Underwater, Castle, and Forest, which all come with Day and Night properties. For example, the night-time Underwater theme makes the entire level pitch-black except for an illuminated aura circling Mario.
When building levels, you can set your own objectives and goals that the player will need to fulfil in order to complete the course This opens up the doors for a lot of fun as you’re not limited to just making platforming levels. For example, you can set a goal where the player needs to collect a certain number of coins before they can finish the course.
There is also a new feature called Custom Scroll in which you can set an auto-scroll to a level you are building so you can have water drop or rise at a specific speed. Alternatively, lava and poison can also be used with this feature. Nintendo really has thought of everything in Super Mario Maker 2, and the amount of new features that were not present in the first instalment is staggering.
If you’re struggling with designing courses, then there’s a hefty number of tutorials to help you and give you some inspiration for level ideas. They also tell you how to use certain features and functions if you’re a bit lost.
Just like the first Super Mario Maker, you are also able to play other people’s levels creations in Super Mario Maker 2. However, in order to play community courses and upload your own, you will need to have a membership for Nintendo Switch Online. Without one, you’re limited to the Story Mode and making levels for your own entertainment.
There is a plethora of fan-made courses: some good, some bad. Thankfully, you can filter the type of courses you want to play via the tagging system. If you’re looking for an auto-scroller level, then there’s a filter option for this so you are only own shown courses of this style. Additionally, if you’re on the hunt for levels with an easy difficulty rating, then you can search for these.
You can add comments and rate courses you have played through. Players can also rate and comment on your courses. So, if you’ve tagged your level as ‘easy’, but enough people argue against this and deem it difficult, then it will be rated as a hard course.
Lastly, co-op play is also a new feature in Super Mario Maker 2. You can play any fan-made levels or pre-made levels with a friend, as well as build courses together. The latter can be a bit fiddly as there isn’t a whole lot of room for two cursors on the screen at once, so you often end up bumping into one another. However, with some practice and patience, this could be a really fun experience. Alternatively, you could just troll your friend by undoing all their hard work.
Super Mario Maker 2 is an utter delight and should be a firm staple in anyone’s Switch library. The amount of customization when designing courses is phenomenal, giving you full freedom over everything you create. Nintendo has gone above and beyond with implementing so many new features in Super Mario Maker 2, making it a fantastic second entry to the franchise. The Story Mode is packed with charm and challenging pre-made levels that are a great bonus to an otherwise outstanding game. Whether you’re creating your own levels, playing through pre-made levels or fan-made ones, there’s a plethora of content to keep you busy. Super Mario Maker 2 is definitely a game you’ll keep coming back to time and time again.