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Super Mario Maker 2 Review

Tap into your inner Miyamoto.

by William Schwartz

The 2015 release of Super Mario Maker was adored by critics and fans for a couple of things.  The original Mario Maker gave fans unprecedented access to the creation tools to make their own levels in the most iconic platformer to grace any console in history and with that it gave people endless levels to play.  Whether you’re someone who enjoys meticulously creating the perfect Super Mario level or you just like checking out what others have created, there was endless fun to be had.  Super Mario Maker 2, for better or worse, is more of the same.  While Nintendo certainly could have ported the original over to the Switch and called it a day, what we have is a game with the same core premise that’s learned some lessons as well.  What you will find are some quality of life changes on the creation front, a new style in Super Mario Bros 3D World theme, and some re-designed mechanics to make it work on the Switch.  It’s a worthy sequel.

If you played the original, you have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting into here.  Super Mario Maker 2 is a game about creating Super Mario Bros. levels and playing other’s creations.  If you love Super Mario Bros and its many incarnations, you’ll find no shortage of levels to play.  If you ever wanted to try your hand at creating your own levels, you’ll be given the tools to make those dreams a reality.

save-level-mm2

Personally, I’m more of a player than a creator so the best part about Mario Maker 2 for me is the ability to pick up the Switch at any time and play a brand new Mario level.  Whether that’s through searching out levels through the Course World system (which shows you popular levels from other creators) playing in Endless Mario mode, or just using creator codes, there’s always something new to play and for the most part, the content is great.  While you can run into the occasional “troll level” the content is fun to play and great in small doses.  For those looking for things with a more professional touch, there’s also a full-on Super Mario Bros. single player story mode which has players rebuilding a castle for Princess Peach while introducing you to the many mechanics you will run into in your time with the game.

For the player, there are a wealth of ways to find content that you’ll like.  You can search for levels with certain tags or you can search for levels from creators that you enjoy.  You can search for multiplayer levels, co-op levels, puzzle solving levels, and many more things that can tailor your search for new levels.  In the mood for a diabolically difficult game?  You’ll find no shortage of it.  Want to play just games made in the original Super Mario Bros. style?  You can do that too.  It’s a simple as selecting a few criteria and then you’re off into someone else’s creation to test it for yourself.  When you’re done, you can rate the level and that likely helps others find this content on their searches.  The entire Course World system is easy to understand with an intuitive UI that allows you to experience everything the community has on offer and rate it.  Super Mario Maker 2 is, in effect, a mini-social network where the highest rated creations will be showcased and you can like and follow them if choose.  While the curated content will be up front and center there are many, many creators and levels to search through and try.  As a player, the solo experience in Mario Maker 2 is quite good, whether you’re tackling the story mode, Endless Mario mode, or the endless levels from creators.

Players have a wealth of options to discover new levels and creators

It’s not just single player content that can be played though.  There are also multiplayer versus levels to play and cooperative levels as well.  Multiplayer versus is what it sounds like.  It’s competitive Super Mario Bros.  Yes, this is a first for the series.  You’ll play someone’s created level and race others to the finish line.  Whoever gets there first is the winner.  This can be quite fun (albeit chaotic) to play when connections are decent.  If there’s one thing that the Nintendo Online Network has proven in its short existence is that most people are playing over a wireless connection for the majority of the time and it can lead to a sub-par experience.  We’ve had matches that have run incredibly smoothly and matches that have run poorly.  It truly is a crap shoot when logging into to play versus or cooperative.  You will need the Nintendo Online subscription to play these modes, but they do provide a nice change of pace when you need a break from the single player.  That said, all of this can be done offline and locally as well.

save-levels-others

It is called Super Mario MAKER though, and the one thing that’s always turned me off from these types of games is their complexity.  The great thing about the Mario Maker series is that it is incredibly accessible while giving you tools to get as complex as you want.  There is an extensive tutorial section which explains the basics and with that knowledge you can really let loose your creativity.  It does take some time to come to grips with all of the tools that are available, but it never feels overwhelming.  One of the big drawbacks of the Switch for a game like this is that the console doesn’t come with a stylus, so there is a slight drawback on this version because of the platform difference, but there is a stylus available for purchase that works.  The standard controls are pretty good though.  The touch screen combined with the joycons work well in handheld mode, and the joycons do suffice when playing on the bigger screen.

You might want a stylus (not included) for this one

There are endless hours to spend in creator mode getting things just right, testing, tweaking and publishing your levels for others to play.  There is also a great feedback loop from the game itself, letting you know when players have played your levels, how many times they’ve been played, completed, etc.  Seeing others play your levels constantly sparks the imagination and creativity to make more levels for public consumption.  The available tools are robust, yet easy to understand.  While some things and certain items are a little bit obscure in figuring out how to use, Super Mario Maker 2 has great level of accessibility to players and level designers of all skill levels.

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On the Switch, Mario Maker 2 has some core strengths that its predecessor didn’t have.  The ability to take the Switch on-the-go is nice, but Mario Maker 2 is a connected experience.  When you’re without a wireless connection there’s a nice option to download levels that you can play at a later date.  The other nice aspect of Mario Maker 2 is Nintendo’s decision to not gate a lot of creation items behind things like Amiibo or other unlock methods.  This in itself is nice if just for the fact that you can log in and create to your heart’s content right from the moment you log-in for the first time.

Sequels can bring about big changes and small changes for game franchises, and Mario Maker 2 does feel like a game that’s made a lot of smaller changes.  Those changes are mostly for the best as the existing formula didn’t really need to be tweaked all that much.  With some quality of life improvements, a robust set of social tools to discover, play and rate or publish your own content, Mario Maker 2 feels like a must own for any fan of the series.

The Verdict

Super Mario Maker 2 offers an incredible depth of tools to create anything you can dream up from some of the most iconic Super Mario Bros. games.  Whether you’re a creator or a player, a beginner or shell-jumping pro, there’s something for you.

"loved"
loved

Super Mario Maker 2

  • Available On: Nintendo Switch
  • Published By: Nintendo
  • Developed By: Nintendo EPD
  • Genre: Platformer
  • US Release Date: June 28th, 2019
  • Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
  • Quote: "Super Mario Maker 2 offers an incredible depth of tools to create anything you can dream up from some of the most iconic Super Mario Bros. games.  Whether you're a creator or a player, a beginner or shell-jumping pro, there's something for you."
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