Super Mario Maker 2

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: June 28, 2019


Switch Review - 'Super Mario Maker 2'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on July 2, 2019 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

In Super Mario Maker 2, players can create the Super Mario courses of their dreams, with access to even more tools, items and features.

Buy Super Mario Maker 2

Mario wasn't the original platform hero, but if you think of platforming video games, you think of Mario. Fans have longed to create their own levels before Super Mario Maker made it a reality. However, SMM was a fairly basic tool, and that's why Super Mario Maker 2 for the Switch is exactly what it needs to be: bigger, better, and more of the same.

The basic idea behind SMM is that you're given a huge selection of classic Mario gadgets (and some new ones) that you can use to design your own levels using a very simple and accessible click-and-place interface. If you've played the previous game, you'll be glad to hear the interface is just as easy to use. The Switch doesn't have the benefit of the Wii U's combination console/gamepad, but it works just fine.

What's new in SMM2 is a whole host of new gadgets and features, including dangerous obstacles like swings and power-ups, like the superball from Super Mario Land. There are dozens of new features, and some existing ones have also received updates, such as an upgraded clown car that can be used as a floating turret, allowing you to create shooter levels. There's plenty of new stuff here, and it doesn't feel like a mere expansion pack, which was my initial concern.

One of the cooler features added to SMM2 is the addition of "night" levels. These are alterations made to the basic theme of the level, turning into night where everything is just a bit off. For example, power-ups will shift. Some may try to evade Mario or become dangerous and chase him. Night themes can alter gravity, turn the entire stage dark, make the level slippery, and so on. They add small but interesting twists to the gameplay, so you can create some truly punishing levels. If the original SMM could create fiendish levels, night levels up the ante to a terrifying new level.

Also new are Extra game modes. The highlighted one is Super Mario 3D World. The original Super Mario 3D World was, of course, a 3D game, but the SMM2 version uses the graphic style for new 2D-style gameplay. It offers a variety of blocks and gimmicks that are unavailable in the other modes, including the adorable Cat Mario power-up. The only downside is that you're locked into Super Mario 3D World visuals and styles. It's more like a second, smaller SMM2 with different rules than the rest of the game.

My new favorite addition is Conditions, which allow you to set very specific requirements for finishing a level. You may have to finish a level carrying a certain object, kill a certain number of enemies, never jump, or various other options. This may not sound like much, but it allows for the creation of far more interesting puzzle-themed levels that add a sense of flair that the original SMM lacked.

That sort of sums up what SMM2 does well: puzzles. The original game could have puzzle-themed stages, but the stages were fairly basic and limited creativity. The majority of the new tools let players create all kinds of stages, and it makes the game feel more in-depth. You can still create all the classic levels you want, but there are more options to generate more creative levels.

One very nice addition is Story mode, which follows Mario as he tries to rebuild Princess Peach's demolished castle by collecting coins from various tasks, each of which is effectively a SMM2 stage. The story and gameplay are fun, but what makes Story mode shine is that it's a tutorial that showcases many of the game features. Each stage shows you how a game element works, such as unexpected interactions between objects, clever enemy placement, or an introduction to new features.

The Story mode is one of the best tutorials I've encountered because it isn't clear that it is a tutorial. It's not a full Mario game, but you could probably play it as one and come away slightly satisfied. By the time you finish it, which you should do since it unlocks new building features, you'll have a basic knowledge of many tricks and tips that you can use in your own stages. It's fun to play, and once you're done, you also have the combined work of millions of other people to hop into.

SMM2 also adds co-op gameplay to the mix, allowing players to take on levels together. At the moment, you can take on challenges with friends in local co-op or random players online. There was a slew of complaints prior to release that you wouldn't be able to play with friends online, but a patch to add that feature in is in the works. That's good news because the only thing more fun than playing a Mario level is playing a Mario level with friends. The fact that it wasn't there at launch is a negative aspect of the game, but once you can play online, it will add a lot to the overall gameplay and value.

There are some disappointments. Most significantly for me is the removal of the bonus costumes from Mystery Mushrooms in Mario Maker. These allowed you to transform Mario into other characters, ranging from other Mario characters to Smash Bros. pals like Fox or Link. It's sort of understandable, since that's a lot of characters to make, but it was a wonderful part of the original game, and it's rather disappointing that it's MIA. I'm also disappointed that despite the use of Super Mario 3D World, you're stuck with Luigi, Mario, Toad and Toadette for playable characters, leaving poor Princess Peach on the sidelines again. Hopefully, more playable characters (or at least costumes!) are in the pike for SMM2's updates.

SMM2 looks great. It captures the style of the various Mario titles from NES to Switch, and it does so wonderfully. More to the point, the user interface is a delight. It's easy to use, and everything about the interface feels good. There are enough little clicks and fanfares and noises to make it feel like a game when you're just building the levels, never mind playing them. It also runs well in both handheld and console modes, which is a welcome relief after some of the issues with recent Switch titles.

All in all, Super Mario Maker 2 is about as solid of a sequel as you could ask for. It's fun and easy to play, offers a staggering amount of content, feels like it adds enough new fresh features that it isn't just a DLC/re-release with a fancy name, and it's generally everything the game should be. If you enjoy Mario-style gameplay, then you owe it to yourself to give SMM2 a shot. The Nintendo-provided levels are a delight to play, and there are so many varieties of user-created levels out there that you'll never run out of options.

Score: 8.5/10

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