Review: Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch)

Miracle maker.

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 07/26/2019 07:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
Editor's Choice
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Tons of potential for creation; 3D World brings some great new mechanics to play with; almost endless replay value; the aesthetic of each style looks gorgeous
Poison Mushroom for...
Creating in handheld mode is less intuitive (and will likely be harder for people with large hands); Story Mode stages are slightly underwhelming

When Super Mario Maker launched on Wii U back in 2015, it represented some of the greatest wish-fulfillment of any Nintendo game up to that point. For the first time ever, fans could not just play as Mario and friends, but also craft the entire world around them. With Super Mario Maker 2 on Switch, Nintendo has managed to take an already intuitive and engaging creation suite and push it even further, resulting in a game that’s not only a great joy to play, but one that also helps provide genuine insight into how video games are made.

The best place to begin in Super Mario Maker 2 isn’t in the Course Maker, but instead in Story Mode. The premise is simple: Peach’s castle has been lost and must be rebuilt from the ground up. In order to assist the laboring Toads, Mario can take on the game’s 100 pre-made courses in order to raise money for the endeavor. These courses serve as a tutorial of sorts to help players understand how the different tools and features in the game work. Nintendo calls this an adventure, but the courses themselves aren’t up to the usual standard of a traditional 2D Mario platformer. They’re fun levels but are typically brief and not very elaborate. Ultimately, however, these stages are mostly fun and informative, so give them a look if stumped during level creation.

As fun as the Story Mode is, the real meat of the Mario Maker experience is in Course Maker. Here, there’s a litany of tools and features to utilize in order to make a whole dizzying range of stages. The sky is the limit in Course Maker— almost anything that the player can imagine can be made here. What’s more, the presence of different styles adds even more variance into the mix. Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U can all be selected from, with each bringing a unique visual aesthetic and mechanics along for the ride. It’s also good fun seeing bits of the styles bleeding into one another, resulting in types of levels that never existed in the original games.

Of course, it’s not possible to incorporate every element within each style. It’s this faithfulness to the mechanics of the games from which the styles are based that makes Super Mario Maker 2 so endearing. Some people might think that all Mario games are the same, but in reality, there are some stark differences between how the mustachioed one controls in Super Mario Bros. versus Super Mario World, for instance. This is especially true of the fifth style, which is based on Super Mario 3D World. 3D World is separate from all of the other styles because it’s so distinct in terms of how it controls. It’s a little sad that there’s no element sharing between 3D World and the others, but there’s so much to do within this one style that the isolation is justified.

Besides crafting stages, the other huge draw to Super Mario Maker 2 is playing all of the ones that other people have made. Sharing with other users is a breeze, as is uploading one’s own creations. Some people have lamented the limitation on how many courses can be loaded onto the server (as of this writing the cap has been increased to 64), but it’s a necessary evil— server space isn’t infinite, after all. The presence of all these user-made levels also means that Super Mario Maker 2 has almost endless replay value. With new courses being added constantly, fans will be able to experience something fresh virtually every time they play. It’ll be fun to see what the fan community produces as time goes by.

There’s also an educational component to Super Mario Maker 2 that can’t be ignored. There’s no coding involved, but building stages is an invaluable learning experience for budding game designers. Developing a flow to a stage, placing enemies, arranging elements, all of it is very similar to working in something like Unreal Engine. Super Mario Maker 2 is much more streamlined of a process in comparison, of course, but the connections are there, nonetheless. Overall, this is a truly astounding accomplishment by Nintendo. The suite of tools is easy to learn and use, there are a ton of elements and features to employ, and with the ability to play what is practically an endless stream of new stages, this is a triumph of Nintendo’s creative spirit. A must for Switch owners— don’t sleep on this one!

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