Available On: Switch
Super Mario Maker was a clever delight when it launched in 2015 on Wii U. The simple premise – a full editor suite for making and playing Mario levels across multiple eras – was an instant hit, recreating the dreams of many a dreamy kid scratching out level designs in a school notebook. The Switch sequel keeps the same solid editing and classic Mario gameplay, while adding several high quality pieces, a vastly expanded story mode, and online and local multiplayer.
We Can Rebuild It
The original Super Mario Maker featured dozens of pre-made levels in gauntlet-style challenges, but the majority of the gameplay focused on playing user-created levels. Super Mario Maker 2 smartly creates a proper campaign that involves rebuilding Peach’s castle.
Normally coins are a nice distraction while playing, but in story mode earning coins is actually the main goal as we spend earned coins to build pieces of the castle. This allows coins to act as fun side objectives, motivating me to take bigger risks to squeeze as much reward as I can out of a level.
The levels themselves, 100 in all, do a fantastic job providing inspiration for clever new designs and ideas, such as showcasing the new dry bones turtle shell that allows Mario to ride on lava waves. Or using half a dozen keys and locked doors to create a series of non-linear puzzle challenges. Or a particularly devilish task of making it through an obstacle-filled dungeon without ever leaving the ground. These levels are fun to play while also making me a better Mario level designer, though it’s an unfortunate oversight that these levels are single player only.
Multiplayer is a new addition to Super Mario Maker 2, supporting up to four players online and locally. Nintendo makes an annoying blunder with local multiplayer by hiding in the Course World. In order to play a level locally, I must first download the level online, or save my local level, then select the Play Together option. It would have been vastly quicker and more convenient to jump into levels with friends as easily as I can in single player.
Levels can be built for both co-op and competitive, and the results are just as hilarious as when simultaneous multiplayer debuted with New Super Mario Bros. U, with players constantly getting in each other’s way, but also able to revive each other (in co-op mode). The majority of Super Mario Maker 2 will undoubtedly lie with single player death traps, mazes, and puzzles, but being able to design the perfect level to play with my family is a special treasure.
Playing custom-built Mario levels is fun, but designing them is even more enjoyable. The sequel retains the same intuitive interface and design tools, letting me quickly drop in terrain, enemies, items, and interactive objects. New features in Super Mario Maker 2 include co-op building, the use of rising water (or lava), a swinging claw arm, sloped ground, and an entirely new Mario theme with Super Mario 3D World.
The 3D World theme is far more than a simple reskinning, as Mario controls with a bit more floatiness and inertia, not to mention cat Mario’s game-breaking wall-climbing skills. 3D World’s gameplay is so different that switching to it in the editor resets the entire level, so planning ahead is important.
The new design tools all add welcome new features that create a new stream of endless possibilities and ideas, including on/off switches, the angry sun, the jaw-dropping reverse gravity, and the ability to set goals and limitations, such as having to grab certain red coins, or the aforementioned no jumping rule.
The main complaint with the editor is that the original Super Mario Maker was perfect for the Wii U’s stylus for more precise tile placement. The Switch uses a different type of touch screen and doesn’t feature a built-in stylus, practically necessitating a separate purchase of a capacitive touch screen pen for serious builders.
Super Mario Maker 2 is rated E for Everyone with Mild Cartoon Violence. You know exactly what you’re going to get with a Mario game from Nintendo. Levels can range from ridiculously easy to impossibly challenging depending on the whims of the creator, making Super Mario Maker 2 uniquely engrossing for all ages and skill levels.
The original Super Mario Maker already felt like a complete editing package with very few missing pieces, and the sequel blew away our expectations with excellent new tools, fun new themes, a robust and creative story mode, and full multiplayer support. The original game was a marquee title for the relatively sparsely populated Wii U, and we’re excited to see what the community can accomplish, and how well they keep Mario Maker relevant, on the much more popular Switch.