I remember being younger, playing through Super Mario World, and thinking ‘I’d love to make my own Mario game’. I’m sure it’s a dream that a lot of young Nintendo fans had and that dream became a reality in 2015 when the original Super Mario Maker was released on the Nintendo Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, giving gamers the chance to create and share their own creations. Neat, right?
Well, now it has made its way over to the Nintendo Switch in the form of Super Mario Maker 2 with all new functions, an additional single player experience, as well as the ability to play in multiplayer with… well… strangers (more on that later). Most importantly though is that the whole experience has been refined to feel more intuitive than ever before – Super Mario Maker 2 really is something special.
Firstly, I think it’s important to go over some of the new additions that have come over to Super Mario Maker 2 – believe me, there are quite a few. Firstly, there are all new styles based upon Mario games to create levels with, with the new 2D-take on Super Mario 3D World one of the most significant. It allows you to utilise some of the items and functions from that game but in a 2D landscape, with things like the additional long jump making controlling Mario feel completely different to any of the other styles. It’s not just an aesthetic change but it actually spices up the vibe of the experience as a whole, so it’s a fun way to create something that feels distinct and unique.
Then there are the clear conditions, with the creator able to set specific goals in order for the player to complete a level. You don’t have to make it as straight forward as just reaching the end of a level this time around, but can challenge the player to collect a certain amount of items, defeat a certain amount of enemies, reach a certain amount of points, or even reach the finish line whilst riding Yoshi… that’s just naming a few too, with plenty of customisable options in place. In honesty, I didn’t think I’d play around with the clear conditions too much – I’m a traditionalist as far as platforming is concerned, so I figured I’d just want players to reach the end of my levels to succeed. After seeing a few ideas used by other players though, I’ve seen how creative it can allow you to be and how it gives you a lot more flexibility in each level’s design. It allows you to do things that you haven’t seen done in a Mario game before, but those ideas feel so ingenious that you can’t help to wonder why Nintendo haven’t actually done it themselves. It’s great.
Of course, there are also additional items and enemies to include in your creations, as well as all new terrain – one of the heavily promoted inclusions is the slopes, which allow you to have Mario sliding around freely. It feels like such an obvious feature but it wasn’t included in the original Super Mario Maker, so its presence here is especially nice. You can also change between day-time and night-time in levels, make water or lava-based levels, and even have levels that work vertically instead of horizontally. Again, these feel like obvious features, but they’re all new for Super Mario Maker 2. It just shows that Nintendo aren’t holding back in allowing gamers to get their creative juices flowing and it really allows for endless possibilities when crafting your levels.
Actually making these levels feels more intuitive too, with your tools better laid out than previously and your most recently used items highlighted – believe me, this is something you’ll REALLY appreciate when trying to follow a theme in your levels and it’s something players coming back from the original game will love too. It is worth noting though that the game feels better to play using the touch screen than a controller, and especially with a stylus if you have access to one just to get that extra bit of precision. Of course, it’s more than possible to use the Joy Cons and I’m sure a lot of players would rather craft their levels when playing on a big screen, but for pure accessibility alone the touchscreen with a stylus is the way to go.
Whilst there’ve been plenty of neat additions made as far as creating levels is concerned, Super Mario Maker 2 also features a story-focused single player mode that sees you playing through a traditional Mario experience. Basically, Peach’s castle has been wiped from existence, so with the help of some Toads you’ll play through some pre-made levels to restore it. You’ll earn coins which can be spent to recover the castle piece by piece, whilst in-between completing levels you’ll get to explore your surroundings and interact with its inhabitants. There’s even a nod to the actual ‘making’ of levels too, with Luigi helping you edit levels if they become a little too difficult for you – I’m sure die-hard Mario fans would prefer to play them as intended, but it ties in nicely with the creative experience that Super Mario Maker 2 is meant to be.
It’s nice to have a single player story experience in Super Mario Maker 2, but realistically it’s not really needed – you can play other people’s creations after all, so you’ve essentially got infinite levels to play through. Now I used to think Nintendo were geniuses as far as level creation is concerned, but the standard set by some creators in Super Mario Maker 2 is incredible; I’ve come across plenty of levels that feel as if they BELONG in a mainline Mario game, and some use the functions in cleverer ways than I’ve seen Nintendo do. Of course, some levels are outright sadistic too and require inch-perfect manoeuvres to complete, but it’s always satisfying when you do clear them (unless you give up and launch your Joy Con at the wall in anger halfway through).
It’s just brilliant and there are constantly new levels to play, with each one somehow managing to feel completely different when compared to the last, which is something that’s made possible thanks to all of the different styles, additions, and clear conditions that Super Mario Maker 2 brings. Add to that a very intuitive search function that allows you to search for the levels that suit you, and you’ll quickly find that the whole experience is a Mario fan’s dream.
There’s one extra addition that adds a very interesting twist to it all, though: the multiplayer. It can be played both locally or online, and you’ll either work together or against each other through some user-created levels. It’s a surprisingly fun mode that’s full of chaos (especially when trying to compete through some of the tougher levels), though I did encounter a fair bit of lag when playing online – naturally, that’s not ideal for a platformer, so it made for some tricky situations. Then there’s the fact that online play doesn’t allow you to match up with friends which is a bit stupid. It’s meant to be coming in an update, sure, but it feels like something that simply should have been included at launch.
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch