The Wii U was actually a decent console but hardly any of us got that memo; as a result, Nintendo’s been forced to essentially recreate its library of titles on the Switch, a console we actually bought. The latest Nintendo classic to get this treatment is none other than Super Mario Maker, now gracing the handheld-home hybrid as Super Mario Maker 2 (with new features, of course). Just like the Wii U (and, technically 3DS) original, it’s damn good.
For those unaware, Mario Maker is a side-scroller’s dream, a toolbox of all the things that make the Mario franchise in so, so many of its iterations great. Players can choose from a selection of themes and items in order to create their own levels. The sky’s the limit, really — you can choose to make a Mario-faithful level or combine items, switches and enemies to make something like Jigsaw would in an upcoming Saw feature film.
Levels can be created across a variety of Mario styles including Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World, New Super Mario Bros. and the new (though not New) Super Mario 3D World. The latter’s not a 100% proper presentation as the game’s in 2D, but it’s fun to be able to dress Mario up like a cat and have Bullet Bills shoot towards your face nonetheless.
While the Switch is hands-down the better of Nintendo’s console, the beauty of the Wii U was that it had an in-built stylus that proved ridiculously useful when designing levels combined with its touchpad. On Switch you’re forced to use your (in my case, fat) fingers to get the job done. Nintendo being Nintendo, those who’ve digitally pre-ordered the game from the Switch’s eShop can have apply for a physical Super Mario Maker 2 limited edition stylus to make things easier, but that’s not helpful for most of us.
Stylus or not, creation is still relatively easy; a grid is placed upon a creative space and you’re free to pop in enemies, pipes, switches and the like as you please. As with the original, you’re required to complete creation before it can be submitted online; you can also place completion restrictions like the collection of a certain amount of coins or being able to finish the course without jumping to the mix. Levels are able to be completed in multiplayer, though you can’t jump in with an online friend at the time of writing (Nintendo’s promised a patch to correct this in the future).
Just because the game’s called Mario Maker doesn’t mean you have to create your own levels; I found the most joy in its story mode, an event with more than 100 already-created levels that are not only challenging but have been designed to show you what’s possible with the tools at your disposal. The actual story of the story mode’s pretty basic — Princess Peach’s castle has been demolished and you need to rebuild it; as luck would have it, completing the pre-built courses provide you with much-needed coins to get the task done.
I much prefer the story mode over trying to create my own worlds and, honestly, jumping into the sadistic creations that others have made (sorry, folks). Its addition was a brilliant move by Nintendo, meaning I actually had a desire to play — and return to — Super Mario Maker 2. I spent my time away from the game scheming how I’d get through those tricky four- or five-star difficulty levels that were causing me grief.
Simply put, story mode alone is enough reason to buy the game. It features Mario courses built by Mario designers who are able to throw the rulebook away, creating some devilshly challenging courses that are equal parts frustrating and awe-inspiring. Yes, I realise I said I don’t enjoy engaging with player-created courses that are sadistic, but it’s another thing alogether when those levels come from the minds behind Mario classics of old. It’s hard to pick favourites as there are so many unique and engaging ones.
If you’ve played Super Mario Maker, you already know this Switch sequel is a must-buy. If you’re a Switch owner, Super Mario Maker 2 needs to be part of your collection. Easy as that.
Super Mario Maker 2 was reviewed using a promotional code on Switch, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.