Super Mario Maker 2 Review
When Mario Maker originally launched on the Wii U, fans went wild for what ended up being one of the consoles best titles ever, not only because the game was so fantastic, but because it utilized the Wii U hand held controller so well. Without that controller, Nintendo was looking to strike gold for a second time with the launch of Super Mario Maker 2, but could it be as successful without that screened hand held controller? We took the game for a spin over the weekend, so let’s dive in!
The Short List of Major Negatives
Super Mario Maker 2 isn’t a perfect title, but it’s pretty darn close. My list of negatives is actually limited to just one thing, and it’s something that wouldn’t be possible on this console, or any competitors consoles either. Not having that second screen like on the Wii U is incredibly frustrating, but yet completely understandable, most noticeable when attempting to create amazing levels for others to enjoy. Sure, you can always play Super Mario Maker 2 in handheld mode, but when building levels, I loved the size of the TV screen, and trying to manage it all on the Switch screen in handheld is just a bit much.
And I can’t hold this single issue against the title in terms of scoring it, because the alternative just isn’t possible on this console, or any current generation console.
Story Mode a Welcome Addition
In Mario Maker on the Wii U, Nintendo added in a ton of their own levels to provide challenges and inspiration to players and builders alike. They wanted fans to see how they used the various items in the game to create the fantastic levels that they had available. With that title, however, these levels were spread all over the place, from the challenges to the dojo. At the time, we all welcomed those levels with open arms, especially the ones that you could open and instantly begin editing. It was great…for the time.
In Super Mario Maker 2, although you can longer select specific Nintendo levels and edit at will – now it’s limited to the starting screen level – the robust story mode is the perfect way to see what new items have been added to Super Mario Maker 2, and how to use said items to create fantastic puzzles. With over 100 levels to work through, Nintendo has sprinkled levels of various difficulties into the single player story, and added something to this game I never thought I would see when it was originally announced.
The premise of the story fits the game – Undodog has hit the reset button on Peach’s castle, destroying all the hard work of Mario and the Toads – but it’s a silly premise, and before hitting 30%, I was already tired of the rebuilding the castle concept, and really wasn’t that interested in seeing the fnished product. That being said, I couldn’t get enough of the levels Nintendo has created here, so I kept going to 50%, 80%, and eventually, completing that entire castle.
It wasn’t the story that kept me playing, and it wasn’t the castle building: it was just the levels, and despite their being dozens an dozens to play, I could list the bad levels on one hand. Every level seemed better than the last, and really highlighted the vast number of puzzle options available in Super Mario Maker 2.
Unlimited Level Creation
I never knew the limitations of Mario Maker until I began to play Super Mario Maker 2, and therefore I feel like I’ll never fully understand the limitations of Super Mario Maker 2 until Nintendo releases a third title in the franchise. As it stands now, however, I feel like I can create whatever my brain can think up, and over the weekend I created dozens upon dozens of levels. Some bad, some wacky, and even a few I would call great!
Of course there are limitations on the number of items you can place, but I never once hit these numbers when putting my levels together. For me, the perception is that item placement is limitless, and while this obviously isn’t the case, Nintendo has pushed the ceiling so high, that the vast majority of players will never hit that mark unless they make a conscious attempt at doing so.
As noted before, the lack of the second screen is a bit of a bummer when attempting to create courses, but with some practice and beautifully implemented radial menus, creating via a Pro Controller wasn’t much more difficult than pulling the Switch off the dock and doing everything in handheld. I personally invested in a stylus to make creation a bit more manageable – those with fat fingers like myself might find it hard to accurately place specific objects!
It’s the additions that elevate Super Mario Maker 2 over Mario Maker on the Wii U. Being able to build vertical sub levels is a fantastic way to create fun bonus stages within your levels, and the addition of the New Super Mario World theme adds tons of new features and game play options via the cat suit. While it is unfortunate that this mode is a stand alone – meaning you cannot create a level in this mode and see what it looks like in Super Mario Bros 3, or vice versa – there would have been significantly more work required to make that a possibility, and therefore, it does make sense. Disappointing? Yes. Game breaking? No.
The most outstanding addition to Super Mario Maker 2, however, is easily the inclusion of course clear objectives. Once you’ve competed a course, the game will analyze your level and suggest a number of course clear objectives you can place on it. Collect 100 coins, or kill all the goombas, are just two ways that you can make players explore every inch of your level before completion. This addition has really changed how I, and other players as well, build our courses in Super Mario Maker 2. It allows creators to have more purpose in their levels, and even create things never possible in the original Mario Maker.
Other additions have made this game stand out as well, including more environment themes (jungles are fun to create in!), the addition of day and night, bringing back the angry sun, and so much more helps players create truly memorable creations!
Multiplayer and Online Play
And playing the levels of others, or sharing your own online, is a major part of Super Mario Maker 2. Attempting to earn Maker Points for fantastic levels was something I strive for when creating, and while I rarely got accolades from the larger player base, my friends often enjoyed the levels I created! More impressive than being able to play other courses online, however, is the ability to play cooperatively, or competitively, with friends. While the system doesn’t work quite as well as I would like – sometimes if you attempt to play a level competitively, players get locked out of progression if there is only one power-up for the entire group – the ability to rate levels upon completion, and add tags like “Good for Multiplayer” will go a long way in highlighting which courses you’ll want to play with friends, and which courses you’ll want to play alone.
Super Mario Maker 2 might be the best game available on Nintendo Switch right now. With limitless game play opportunities, it will be hard to not come back to this experience week after week, and month after month. Despite a number of excellent games available on the system, no game provides as much bang-for-your-buck as Super Mario Maker 2. It’s a must have, in my opinion.