It’s likely that, when Nintendo first released Super Mario for the NES back in 1985, they would’ve never imagined that they would launch a game that allow players to create their own levels… with a sequel to boot! Builder Mario is back, this time tagged along with Builder Luigi in Super Mario Maker 2 for Nintendo Switch.
Does Super Mario Maker 2 provide a canvas for a masterpiece, or is it more like a disasterpiece? Find out in our review, after the break.
Super Mario Maker 2
Developed by Nintendo EPD
Published by Nintendo
Released: 28th June 2019
Review copy provided by Nintendo
Since the dawn of September 2015, Mario fans have been letting their creative juices flow by means of constructing unique Mario courses on Wii U (and on 3DS a year later). There were countless opportunities to conjure up various new levels with a wide range of objects and gizmos. Rather than just bringing a ‘Deluxe’ version of the title to Switch, like Nintendo have done with several other Wii U titles, they have brought a satisfying sequel that feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch in Super Mario Maker 2.
For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, Super Mario Maker allowed players to create their own Mario levels in the style of Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U. You could then share your creations online to challenge fans from around the world. You can find out more about the original in our review from 2015.
It wouldn’t be a sequel without a bunch of new features, and Super Mario Maker 2 has a whole load of ’em. Being a level creator, it would make sense there would be a variety of new pieces and gizmos to place into your own creations. These range from big coins, swinging claws, and ON/OFF switches, all the way to the hugely requested slopes… yes, you can now slide your way to victory (or demise) with style! There are at least 30 brand new objects to place in Super Mario Maker 2.
The new features do not stop with new items, there are also four brand new themes (desert, snow, forest, and ice), a new game style based on Super Mario 3D World, a range of different clear conditions (collecting coins, finishing the level holding a shell etc.), and a night mode. There are loads of new features to mess around with, providing fresh opportunities for creating levels. I particularly enjoy messing around with night mode. Depending on which theme you are using, night mode will alter the physics of your level. Turning on night mode in a forest themed area, for example, will replace the water at the bottom with poison, whereas an underground area will flip the laws of gravity on its head.
Though there are loads of new features and items, this temptation to euphoric creativity does present some questionable limitations. It is understandable that Nintendo does want to try and keep things simple, though some items/features could be fleshed out further. Take enemies such as Koopa Troopas for example, there is still no way to change their starting direction, nor is there a way to change the default state for ON/OFF switches (this could make a massive difference in the Super Mario 3D World style.
Speaking of 3D world, if you switch between 3D world and another style (or vice versa) everything you have created thus far is deleted (with a warning confirmation). This is to be expected as there are a lot of things which just aren’t compatible between 3D World and the other styles, though the omission of certain items/features do raise some questions. Why can’t we use night mode or tracks in 3D World, you can’t event change the trajectory of cloud or trampoline lifts. Looking back, Super Mario 3D World originally had all these features within the game, so it comes with an extremely sour taste that these features are not present in the 3D World style when they are in all the others.
Though it comes to a great disappointment that these features have no 3D World compatibility, I suppose it does encourage one to think out of the box and modify their aim to fit certain limitations. That’s one thing I always enjoyed about Super Mario Maker, how crating a level is itself a massive puzzle to solve… especially when something doesn’t work as expected during testing.
Another new feature that Super Mario Maker 2 introduces is the ability to create a level co-operatively. At any point during level creation, just tap/click the co-op building button, share the JoyCon with a buddy, and you’re ready to start building together. Surprisingly, the is very little intervention between players during co-op building. Mario will have full access to all the toolbars, while Luigi will have a mini toolbar with access to all level parts. There are also a range of useful shortcuts that bother players can access. This means that creating levels together is a mostly stress free experience.
If you are struggling with the editor, or have no idea where to start, there are a range of very useful video tutorials at Yamamura’s Dojo. There, you will have the opportunity to learn about all the basics, and discover some useful tips and tricks to make a fantastic level. You are also able to view the controls of Mario throughout all game styles in a very handy guide.
If you are looking for a spark of inspiration, then story mode may be a good place to explore. In story mode, Undodog ‘accidentally’ hit the Reset Rocket after Mario and co. finished refurbishing Princess Peach’s castle. You’ll need to collect coins by completing a wide variety of pre-built levels, then give those coins to Slavedriver… sorry, Chief Toadette to rebuild the castle piece by piece.
The levels experienced in this mode are almost as fully blown as levels from any other Mario game, and as the majority of them can be recreated in the level builder, they offer great inspiration for your next concoction of bricks, mushrooms, and other bits and bobs from the Mushroom Kingdom. There is one feature within the story mode levels which is completely missing from the builder; the ability to insert Toads to use for escort missions. I can only hope that this will be added in a future update… or that there is some super secret way of unlocking said feature which I have yet to discover.
Once you’ve finished building a level, not only can you play it to your heart’s content solo, but you can bring in three additional buddies locally on the same Switch too. Just tap ‘Play Together’ and you and your friends can play as Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Toadette, you can even do this one course downloaded from online. Will you play cooperatively, or will you strive for victory competitively?
Course World is the place to be for online shenanigans. Here, you’ll be able to upload your own courses, play other makers’ courses, leave comments on courses, journey through an endless stream of random courses, or even play with other players online (or through local communication). The biggest joy for playing online is how there will always be an endless supply of courses made by fans all around the world, it almost makes New Super Mario Bro.s U Deluxe feel redundant. It’s perfect for those who aren’t so much interested in the creating side of things, those who would rather dig right into playing someone’s devious creation.
When playing with other people, you can either choose to play co-operatively, or competitively. Once you have chosen your play style, you will be matched with up to three other random players. It’s a rather bizarre decision that there is no option to play with friends online, though Super Mario Maker 2 director, Takashi Tezuka, has stated this feature will be added in a future update soon. Let’s hope that will add the ability to choose courses to play in addition to random courses. This review will be updated once the feature has gone live.
Updated statement about playing online. Unfortunately, playing with others comes at a huge price… the frame rate seems to have a mind of its own. While playing online after launch, nearly every single game I played had a lot of lag which, for a game like Mario, is a huge burden to carry. Sure, it may add to the chaos in versus mode, but the fact that there is almost constant lag is completely unacceptable, especially as we are now paying for online. I’m sorry Nintendo, I love you to pieces, but you have had several years to get online right, but seem to still be struggling to do so. I mean, LittleBig Planet seems to cope fairly decently online, but what do I know, I’m not game developer.
Original statement about playing online. Unfortunately during my time with the review version of the game, I have only been able to play a couple games with other people online due to there not being enough people online the same time as me, so I am unable to comment too much on the feature until after the game launches this Friday. From the few games I have had online, they all came with a fair amount of lag. The courses that were randomly picked weren’t too badly affected by the lag, but I could imagine some experiences could easily be ruined the experience due to the lag. It also seems questionable that accessing local communication requires a Nintendo Switch Online subscription for all parties involved as the menu item is located in Course World, which also requires the subscription. I have been unable to try out local communication however, so I can not guarantee this is 100% true.
Ultimately, Super Mario Maker 2, though not without its faults, improves everything that was great in the original Mario Maker. There are so many new opportunities to create the wildest levels of your dreams (officially) with plenty of great new features. Once you’ve hit the online world, you’ll also have access to an endless amount of courses, and though some of them may be quite naff, there are sure to be countless creative gems from like-minded fans. Yes, there are a few limitations when creating, and playing with strangers online is indeed full of flaws *coughlagcoug*, but don’t let that deter you from creating the level of your dreams. This sequel already has us crossing our fingers for Super Mario 3D Maker for the Super Nintendo Switch!
Even if level creation doesn’t interest you, there will still be plenty of user created levels to explore, but if you are a Mario super fan with plenty of ideas for fresh, new levels, then we’d fully recommend Super Mario Maker 2 to you
Final Rating – 4.5 out of 5
Super Mario Maker 2 launches exclusively for Nintendo Switch on the 28th June 2019.
I am a huge Nintendo fan, hence why NintyBuzz exists. I especially love all things Zelda and Metroid. NintyBuzz was started by me back in the Summer of 2014, it started out mainly as a hobby, though the site has gradually grown, and I hope it grows for many years to come!