When Nintendo ported the original Super Mario Maker to the Nintendo 3DS, the idea was to get more people to play it because the Wii U was dead in the water. I enjoyed the port despite the small screen, and sales proved that a sequel was needed, and what better place than on the Nintendo Switch? And thankfully, not only does the sequel improve on many aspects of the first, but it does so with all the charisma of a mainline Mario game.
Super Mario Maker 2 is like the first game, albeit with some new additions. My favourite addition is Story Mode. With Mario and several Toads having finished rebuilding Peach’s Castle, the precarious Undodog accidentally causes the castle to disappear. Now, it’s up to Mario, with the help of Toad, to earn coins across 100 new levels designed by Nintendo and rebuild the castle according to Chief Toadette’s specifications.
Let me tell you a Story
Not lasting longer than six hours, Story Mode works well as an integrated tutorial. You’ll learn more about the tools Nintendo includes in the game while progressing through the story. It’s easier to make Courses after completing Story Mode. What caught my attention was how excellent each Story Mode was, with each one providing an exciting thrill and challenge.
Like its predecessor, Super Mario Maker, the basic idea here is to allow your creativity to bloom. By handing over the keys to their development tools, you can craft your own 2D Super Mario adventure by designing your levels or heading to Course World, where you can share, download and rate creations from all over the world. Some are fun, others are sadistic and offer tons of replayability.
And like its predecessor, levels are created in a series of Style: Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U. So many bits and pieces make up each Style, you’ll often have a hard time deciding which Style works best. Of course, each Style also has a ton of personality and it’s excellent how Nintendo incorporates each Style of Mario in one video game.
Course Maker, Make Me A Course
As for creating new courses, the new additions are most welcome. Nintendo added a new Style for the sequel, possibly my favourite. Using the Super Mario 3D World Style, one I found to be underrated and underused, means we get more Cat Mario! This is not the entire 3D design; the elements are included and moved to the 2D plane. So, if you expect to recreate entire 3D worlds, you won’t find that here. Maybe in Super Mario Maker 3?
One of the best things about Super Mario Maker 2 is Yamamura’s Dojo. Here, you’ll learn from the genius course maker who happens to be a pigeon. Here, Yamamura elaborates and teaches you what to do when using the course creator. The Dojo is entirely optional but offers some of the best advice for creating courses and includes three skill levels when learning the ropes – Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. Some topics range from using parts to Mario’s limitations and clear conditions.
Nintendo also includes several new things like being able to add slopes to your course, the Angry Sun from Super Mario Bros. 3, Snake Block, an on/off switch, a seesaw, a swinging claw, water level, and the ability to custom scroll your course. There’s more than enough new content, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of the new inclusions to the editor. At the of your screen in Course Maker are 12 blocks, each with its own building material. One might be for Mario’s starting point, the next for a power-up, and another for coins, warp pipes and so on. Pressing Y opens a sub-menu with more level-building tools like Terrain, Items, Enemies, and Gizmos. Every aspect can be customized to your level, including the size, colour, and how the level reacts to Mario.
When it comes to creating a course, it can be done in a few ways. The touchscreen is ideal, and a controller works, but it isn’t the ideal way to create a course. Nintendo reworked and improved controls for the editor, but it leaves more to be desired. In Maker 2, shortcuts alleviate minor controller issues, and the included radial menu allows for more accessible selection on the fly.
Super Mario Maker 2, Stylus Recommended
The touchscreen is a lot more intuitive, and depending on your preference, a stylus is worth investing in if you plan on creating many courses. However, it isn’t necessary as Nintendo improved the streamlining process of course creation and feels much better than I remember in the original Maker. Placement is easier with a finger and usually ends where I want it to be. Nintendo also added the ability to add an explicit condition to a level, some of which are dastardly and exciting. One condition might see Mario unable to jump during a level, or another, you need to collect all the coins. The conditions are left to the creator, and each level either offers clear conditions or doesn’t.
My first level took me roughly an hour and a half to make but offers little incentive to play it. Learning the ropes of course making takes some time, and thanks to the excellent Story Mode, the inspiration is there.
Jumping into Course World is where I had the most fun. In the pre-release of Super Mario Maker 2, dozens of levels are already available for consumption and range in difficulty. One level in the pre-release called Slide and Ride sees Mario use a kart to complete the level while collecting all coins. Each level can be rated on whether you “like it,” or “boo!” Comments are published to the internet for all to see and offer insight on the level you’re commenting on.
On the hunt for good Courses
A detailed search offers one of the better ways to explore all the levels people create. Choosing the Game Style, Course Theme, and Difficulty is one way to find the best levels. Another way is by Region and lastly by Tag: Standard, Puzzle-solving, Speedrun, Autoscroll, Short and Sweet, and Multiplayer Versus, to name a few.
Speaking of Multiplayer, Network Play is available, but you can’t play with friends. Nintendo is working on a fix to allow you to play with friends and not just strangers; it isn’t ready for the time being. It is a shame that friends can’t test the level you’re working on and get their feedback.
Super Mario Maker 2 improves on the established formula in every way and delivers an insanely satisfying Mario game. Loaded with over 100-Nintendo made courses and all the tools to create your own, the fun won’t stop because you’ll make more of it. All the new features offer rewarding gameplay loops, and the new themes and items create memorable set pieces. If anything, this is what the original Super Mario Maker wanted to be at launch. I’m interested in seeing what the Nintendo community builds post-launch of Super Mario Maker 2; those are the true testaments to creativity and where the real fun begins.
[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]