Hands-on with Super Mario Maker 2 – Play, Create, Together
Going hands on with a game prior to release is always exciting, you never know that things you will learn, so being invited out to Nintendo Australia to check out Super Mario Maker 2 was something that could not be passed up.
We got to experience three of the modes that the game, playing already built levels, creating some and then playing some together, each was fun and by the laughs happening in the room, those watching were enjoying it as much as we were.
As seen in the Nintendo Direct, something has happened to Peach’s Castle and it needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. Rebuilding the Castle seems to be the basis for the Story Mode so far, but that’s already known. The Toads are busy with reconstruction, but they need you to help rebuild. The Taskmaster Toad gives you tasks to get coins to fund rebuilding efforts. There were only a small amount of courses initially available, these were mainly introductory and look to be inspiration to take with you into the Build mode. One of the first courses was focused on slopes and the sliding mechanics.
The few other courses tested built on other new elements to SMM2, such as Cat Mario and the expanding blocks. Cat Mario took me a bit of getting used to, it’s been a while since playing Super Mario World 3D. I’m looking forward to see how much from that game makes it into SMM2, and what people can make when they have some real time with that game theme. Once you get enough coins you can take them to Chief Toadette and restore parts of the Castle. We didn’t get a chance to see what difference it makes when you select different areas. It feels like there’s a lot more hidden away in Story Mode, if not at least 100+ courses.
We also got a look at the online courses and what people had made so far. What people had already done with it made me look a lot more forward to getting to play this in June. Luke and I played some levels that had objectives to complete, just running through the level to the flag pole/goal posts/whatever it is at the end of Mario 3 isn’t going to be enough. One was as simple as collecting enough coins before getting to the end point to make the flag pole appear. I had an interesting time with one course that was about collecting enough coins, but all the surfaces are bouncy. There was even Bowser’s Clown Cars bouncing everywhere like a hyperactive bumper car session. I bet it was frustrating to watch as I played the course, but it was pretty fun to play.
Luke was tasked with eliminating a certain number of Spinies which didn’t seem like an easy feat. Then at the beginning of the course, there was a Dry Bones to use for the new mechanic, where you can ride around in its shell. Luke not only utilised the shell to its fullest but also thought ahead to grab a Spiny shell for head protection. Then Mario warp-piped into a room filled with dropping Spinies, as Mario jumped around in his new suit of armour taking them out. It’s not a goal that takes longer to work out how to accomplish, but it was a really neat use of the objectives and the Dry Bones.
Looking through the different courses it was easy to see the labels given to the courses. This will hopefully cut down on some of the major frustrations with trying to find good user made courses.
Paul was the first to give the create a go and did so in handheld mode, so whilst he was modifying an existing level, I was talking, thus when he handed me the Switch and I have a few moments in handheld mode for creation, I just messed around with it. If you have played either the Wii U or 3DS release of Super Mario Maker, placing elements will feel quite familiar to you, but I longed to try out the controller only way, so the Switch was docked and construction began, sort of.
The thing that stood out, is that as simple as the menus are, there are few challenges with using a controller and not the touch screen, the prime example is that in order to access the menus, you can’t just move the cursor to them, as they are like Boo’s, they tend to get all shy when you get close and they vanish from the screen. Instead to access the menus, you need to press any direction on the d-pad, and you are taken to the menu on that same side of the screen.
Once you are there, you use the d-pad to move around, or press a button like Y to get into the context wheel menu, the odd thing is that you can’t press Y outside of the border menus being active, as all it does is teleport Mario to wherever your cursor is on the screen, though you do get a nice little whistle noise. Once inside the wheel menus though, you will see things grouped into four main categories, Blue is terrain, Purple is for items, Green is for your enemies and Yellow is for all the gizmos you need to create that level from hell, or you know P Switches and Pow Blocks.
You simply need to flick your left stick in the direction of the item you want, once highlighted, you just press A and you have selected your item and are moved back out to build. The most recent items that you have selected remain up the top for quick access, so you don’t need to keep swapping back to the full menu. With the cursor carrying your item, you can press A to place it, on the square you are on, with the thankful part, it does not need to be exact. Pretty soon I was building like a master, well maybe not a master, but I was able to pick up the control scheme without too many issues.
Of course, playing together was more fun and while we got to play a few stages, we only ever finished one, as that was together, the others were against each other and they proved to be a challenge. Working together was a challenge, as the level we played had lava going up and down, though as one might expect, we both immediately died by jumping into said lava.
Eventually, we learnt the rhythm of the lava’s flow and were able to make it to the end, it was not a terribly challenging course, but with the mix of lava and bouncing off each other’s heads, it increased the difficulty enough, but the next one was even more demanding, it proved to be too much to conquer in the time we had, but Paul can explain more.
The next course was diabolical. While searching through the possible multiplayer courses that have been made, one in particular stood out. Luke said it looked odd so the kind people of Nintendo sentenced us to this nightmarescape. Initially within a screen there is a big pit of lava and a low ceiling with icicles pointing down, waiting to skewer any unfortunate players. The catch was that you couldn’t just run up and time it right to jump under the spikes. The jump was too long with the space allowed.
This course was a challenge that was frustrating in two ways, to start with there was the shameful point where I was unaware I could long jump. I spent way too long throwing myself down that pit, hoping Luke might jump off of my doomed carcass to the other side narrowly avoiding the spikes so one of us could survive the course. Then Luke figured it out and stopped my endless jump of sacrifice. It became a wild dash of long jumps and running through a combinations of conveyor belts and blocks with spikes. The second frustration was that we knew what we had to do. Each run had us slowly making progress, that or accidentally getting in each other’s way and causing us both to die.
When one player dies it created a pause that throws off the whole timing of jumping, bringing a quick end to that attempt. Still, we knew what needed to be done but time worked against us. Unless we wanted to be thrown out of the Nintendo offices in disgrace, it was time to leave. While it was frustrating, we had a ball with trying to best the level. It wasn’t needlessly unfair and it was a fun challenge. Knowing how creative the gaming community can get, there are sure to be tons of interesting and challenging courses. This time I’m actually looking forward to tracking them down.
Super Mario Maker 2 is out on June 28th, we’ve already got a bargain guide going for it right here. Stay tuned for more Super Mario Maker 2 coverage as we get closer to release.