Super Mario Maker originally launched in 2015 and became something of a gaming phenomenon. It gave players the tools to create their own levels, and helped launch a number of successful streamers, thus creating a community. Nintendo announced its sequel, Super Mario Maker 2, in February. To follow-up on such a popular title is daunting, but Nintendo is no stranger to such things. Super Mario Maker 2 is a wonderful game with all the right tools to create even greater masterpieces than what was seen in the first game.
Like the first game, Super Mario Maker 2 is divided between creating and playing. On the creating side, the game functions very similarly to the first game, so veterans should feel right at home. Players can create with five game styles: Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, New Super Mario Bros. U, and Super Mario 3D World. There are loads of new enemies and items to play around with. Since this is on Switch, players can create levels either in TV mode, or docked (This reviewer preferred handheld for creating, but players should try both). As for the playing aspect, players can find others' levels online through different means. There is a new mode called Endless, which replaces the 100 Mario Challenge from the first game. Also, there is online competitive racing, as well as cooperation. Unfortunately, there is no way to battle with friends online, but Nintendo will be patching this in a future update.
Mario Gets Back To Work
Unlike the first game, Super Mario Maker 2 features a story mode. The plot begins with Mario, Toadette, and the Toads finishing repairs on Princess Peach's castle. Unfortunately, the reset button was left on the floor, and the Undo Dog presses it. The castle is in shambles once more. Now, it's up to Mario to take "jobs" in order to assist in rebuilding the castle. These jobs are actually levels created by Nintendo.
Nintendo created over 100 levels for the story mode. The levels range in difficulty, and typically feature a particular item. For example, in Twisting through the Desert Sands, Twisters are the items of choice. The levels are certainly good at showing players how items can be used. In a way, it's also disappointing because it would have been great to see more Nintendo levels encompassing everything, rather than just a particular item or enemy. But, that's nothing to be upset over because the core aspect of this game is to play other fans' creations. Still, with such fun Nintendo-made levels, like Banzai Bill Chase Scene and the final main one, it would be a great idea if Nintendo released more company levels.
A Wealth Of Riches... And Tools
Making levels feels intuitive and efficient, just like the first game. The menus are arranged nicely, and easy to navigate. There are so many new enemies and items to discuss, such as Boom Boom and the ON/OFF Switch. The biggest new addition is the Super Mario 3D World game style. 3D World is home to a number of exclusive features, such as the Clear Pipe, Bully, and Meowser, of course. In fact, the features are so different, that you can't freely switch game styles, so it's best to know ahead of time if you want to use 3D World. The amount of items and enemies available at players' disposal is extraordinary.
Of course, there are a number of new themes as well, including Snow, Desert, Forest, and Sky. Players can also turn the themes into night, which adds whole new gameplay mechanics. For example, if you use night while playing an underground style, the level turns upside down. The new themes are accompanied by amazing music composed by the legendary Koji Kondo. The Forest theme in the Super Mario World style is probably one of the greatest pieces of music this year. Overall, Nintendo did an outstanding job at giving players a number of fun themes to create in.
For the first time, players can create custom auto-scrollers. Also, levels in sub-areas can scroll vertically in addition to the standard horizontal. Along with slopes, vertical scrolling was one of the most requested features in Super Mario Maker, and players are already making great use of it. Water and lava can be raised in the forest and castle themes, respectively. Finally, players can set certain Clear Conditions to beat a level, such as collect a number of coins, or beat a certain amount of enemies. There's also the Clear Condition of completing a stage without jumping, adding a rich level of unique challenge. To provide some guidance and tips on level making, Nintendo has a number of "Maker Lessons" in the form of Yamamura's Dojo. These are easy to understand and have good depth. Although poorly made troll levels will still be made, it is good that Nintendo has put these lessons in the game for those interested in getting better creatively.
Online Features: A Hit, With A Couple Of Misses
Upon successfully completing their levels, players can upload them online. There is one negative regarding uploading: the 32 stage limit. Yes, at the moment, the limit to uploading stages is 32. The first game maxed out at 100, so this is a severe downgrade. Something like this could be remedied in a future update, so time will tell. Online play is definitely more expansive than the first game. Getting to race others is a fun feature one never grows tired of. Unfortunately, lag can be present. This is especially disappointing because Nintendo charges for online play. On the more positive side, the Endless mode is fun. Although it's debatable if it's better than the 100 Mario Challenge, Endless is implemented for global leaderboards, thus having an engaging competitive nature.
This Game Will Never Get Old
Any negatives aside, Super Mario Maker 2 is an incredibly fun title. Those interested in creating great levels will find themselves heavily invested in the making process. The fantastic thing here is that creating levels is not complicated, but there is an incredible amount of depth to making masterpieces. Online play (minus lag) is excellent. This is the kind of game that will be around for a very long time. Super Mario Maker 2 is a must-have.
4.5 Out Of 5 stars
A copy of Super Mario Maker 2 was purchased by TheGamer for this review. Super Mario Maker 2 is available now for Nintendo Switch.