Review – Super Mario Maker 2

When I was a kid, I loved playing games that featured level or campaign editors, as well as tools that allowed me to create games with zero coding experience. Maybe it was the frustrated game developer in me that wanted to create my own stuff in RTS campaign editors, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater‘s map creators, and RPG Maker as a whole. But I never managed to create something really good, or even play the creations of others in an easy and intuitive fashion. That was the main selling point of the original Super Mario Maker; being able to play amazing levels created by people who are clearly way more talented in level design than I’ll ever be. Super Mario Maker 2 is basically more of the same with a few additions here and there, plus the added advantage of being able to play it on-the-go.

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Thanks to the fire-breathing Clown Car, you can basically created shoot ’em up levels in Mario Maker 2.

The few additions in Super Mario Maker 2, besides the obvious portability factor, are the inclusion of yet another tile preset and a half-baked story mode. Weirdly enough, the new preset is based on Super Mario 3D World, a game that wasn’t even a proper 2D title to begin with. Due to that, the 3D World template is separated from the rest of the bunch, with its own physics and tile sets. It’s less meaty than the New Super Mario Bros tile set and certainly less iconic than the 8-bit and 16-bit templates. However, it makes up for that with the inclusion of a kart racer and the Cat Mario power-up.

The story mode is less of a cohesive campaign and more of a compilation of levels which you can enjoy while you’re playing offline. The core principle is simple: you need to rebuild Peach’s castle by collecting coins acquired in these levels. Every time you start building a section of the castle, you’ll unlock a few more levels which will allow you to acquire enough cash to build the next section. It’s not deep and while there are some neat levels, it’s nowhere near as impressive as some of the stuff created by the game’s own community. It feels like an afterthought.

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Sooooooomebody once told me…

The bread and butter of Super Mario Maker 2 is still its unbelievably intuitive creation tool, as well as its community. There a few more gizmos available in each tile set, allowing for even more creative levels. Koji Kondo’s soundtracks are all here and they are as fantastic as they have always been. The gameplay is classic Mario, meaning that it’s still pretty good, even if the lack of proper directional pads makes things a bit more cumbersome. It’s much better if you have a Switch Pro Controller or a Hori D-Pad Joycon.

The Switch’s touchscreen support allows for an easy interface. Creating levels and setting up traps is ridiculously simple. You’ll spend a few minutes creating a great level and upload it, thinking you had just created a masterpiece. Something worthy of being included in a “Best Of” video on YouTube. The Course World mode acts basically as the game’s community hub. Upon entering it, you’ll quickly realize that a lot of people will already have created something you would have never even imagined was possible with the game’s engine. I’ve seen music levels, Pokémon clones with actual RPG mechanics, a Castlevania clone, and so much more. I just wish it was easier to look for these levels, as Nintendo still thinks that creating a code for each level is the best way to look for them.

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I used to think I was doing a creative level. Then I saw someone literally making a Metroidvania level with the Mario Maker engine…

I have lost count on how many levels I’ve played so far in Super Mario Maker 2. It’s truly a game with literally infinite replayability. Behind the curtain of semi-impossible levels clearly designed by maniacs, lies an oasis full of creativity and smart ideas. All designed by people who definitely need to be hired by Nintendo before someone else offers them a contract first. With that being said, I still think they could have fixed their still faulty online interface and created a less rushed and underwhelming story mode. Especially since the fact you can take the Switch anywhere you want means that you’ll constantly have to play the console offline. Regardless of that, Super Mario Maker 2 is still good. Very good. It’s a Mario game made by Nintendo, so unless it’s called New Super Mario Bros U, it’s basically impossible for one of these to end up being a bad game.

 

Graphics: 8.0

This game features the same assets used in the older titles, but they all feature a much improved framerate. Weirdly enough, this ruins the immersion as the games run completely different from how they used to.

Gameplay: 8.5

The improved framerate has also changed the older titles’ physics a little bit, so they all play differently than before. All in all, it’s still Mario. It plays fantastically.

Sound: 9.5

This game features the fantastic soundtracks you know and love, as well as some extra tunes from other games included as easter eggs. There’s also a bit of voice acting from Charles Martinet, even if he doesn’t sound as inspired as he used to.

Fun Factor: 8.0

The level editor is easy and fun to use. The levels created by the community are impressive. The story mode features some nice stages, but all in all it felt more like an afterthought than a well-planned feature. Plus, as usual, online interface issues. It is Nintendo after all.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Super Mario Maker 2 is available now on Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

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