Super Mario Maker 2 Review (Switch)
Ever since the Switch came out, people have been eagerly awaiting a second Super Mario Maker title. And now it’s finally here! No longer confined to the Wii U (and 3DS, but that’s a whole other thing), the ability to make fully featured Mario courses is now unleashed onto a potentially much larger audience thanks to the Switch’s popularity. Given the legs that the first Mario Maker had despite the much smaller audience, could this be the game to keep us supplied with years worth of new Mario courses?
Due to an amusing mishap involving a loose Reset Rocket, the story mode is set around rebuilding Peach’s Castle. In charge are Chief Toadette and Taskmaster Toad. Mario is doing the hard work getting the funds together as the builder Toads toil away. To raise the cash for the rebuild, Mario needs to take on jobs from the Taskmaster. These jobs come in the form of completing Mario courses. Collect as many coins in the course as you can, these add to the amount you earn for completing the job so you can make the castle even grander than when the game starts.
You will be in for a surprise if you come into the story mode expecting courses like other Mario games. The ones you’ll face here can be more diabolical. The courses introduce a wide mix of what’s possible within the build mode as well as being a bunch of new challenging courses. If it ever gets too tough, Luigi will speak up and offer to help out. If you take him up on it you’ll enter a build mode. In this ‘lite’ build mode, you have limited access to power-ups and blocks to place wherever they’re needed. There doesn’t seem to be any real consequence for getting Luigi’s help, although a green flag will show up on the list of courses completed instead of a red one. It is nice that you’re not punished if completing one of the tougher levels is giving you grief.
Not all jobs come from the Taskmaster, as other builder Toads provide some as the castle rebuild progresses. There are also other characters in the area that are willing to give you more challenging jobs. It’s worth chatting to them just for the conversations, but completing these tasks helps unlock bonuses including some Miiwear to display for all to see. The story part of the game can finish before you clear all the courses, but it’s worth checking out the rest as they’re all good for ideas. While I can’t go into detail, it’s also worth completing as much as you can within the story mode. There are two cool power-ups you can unlock and add into your own courses.
Course World is where you go to enjoy what everyone else has made. If the first game was anything to go by, there’ll never be a shortage of courses. It’s easy to pick up and play popular, highly-rated and new courses. You can also filter via region and tags. Tags can be genres such as ‘puzzle’, ‘speed run’ or ‘short and sweet’. Not only is it handy to be able to give your courses tags, but it makes it easier to find the courses you want to play. You can also apply tags to courses you’ve played if you feel they’re mislabeled.
In the Course World area, you are represented by your chosen Mii. Throughout the story mode and Course World, you’re able to unlock clothing for your Mii, as well as a bunch of unlockable achievements for all to admire. You can also look at a course maker’s profile, what courses they’ve made and what courses they’ve liked. You can also ‘favourite’ them so whatever they make shows up in the tab for your favourites, so you always get their latest made courses showing up. There are also course codes if you want to get what you made out there instead of braving the charts.
When you’re ready to share your course with the world it can be a daunting task. Will people play it? What will they think of it? Good news, because with Super Mario Maker 2 you can leave feedback. Like or didn’t like a course? You can ‘like’ or ‘boo’ them, you can write a note, or even leave a pre-made image to get your feelings across. At this point, it’s hard to tell how Nintendo will be with keeping offensive messages/content out of there, but you can report courses if they are inappropriate. Ideally, feedback will be a helpful tool for people to be able to polish their courses, letting them know people really enjoy it or let others know if your tags and descriptions are misleading. Hopefully, it will help everyone communicate and encourage each other to make some awesome Mario courses.
If you’ve had enough of uploading courses or having to pick out courses to play, you can always jump into the Endless Challenge mode. Similar to the original Super Mario Maker’s 100 Mario Challenge, it pulls random courses from online for you to play. This time instead of 100 Marios before you’re down and out, you start with a few lives and gain more throughout the levels to help you keep going. There are different difficulties that help determine what courses the mode will throw at you, and each one is ranked, so there’s some incentive to keep going if you want to be amongst the best.
Another new addition is that now Mario doesn’t have to do all this platforming alone. Grab some extra controllers and you can have Luigi, Toad and Toadette join in, either cooperatively or in Versus. The co-op has everyone all working together to reach the goal, while Versus is everyone for themselves. This can be done sharing the same system, or online or with multiple systems. Initially, it looked like online multiplayer with friends wasn’t going to happen, but Nintendo has said they will be adding it. At the time of review, I had no luck getting a multiplayer game, with the current pre-release player base so small. Once the proper servers go up at release I will come back to this with an update on how it plays online. Playing multiplayer on the same system runs just as well as any of the Mario multiplayer offerings. Makers will also tag what courses are suited for Versus. While it’s possible there may not be as many courses for groups, there could also be a ton of interesting multiplayer arenas on the way. The multiplayer fun doesn’t end there, as you also have co-op building. You and a soon-to-be enemy can try and build around each other on the same screen. Co-op building isn’t bad, but it does feel unnecessarily frustrating. A turn-based option would have been nice to alleviate the problem of getting in each other’s way – then at least there would be a different method to try before you never speak to each other again.
Now, when it comes to building a level you’re initially greeted by Nina and Yamamura. Nina is a very helpful lady while Yamamura is a pigeon and Mario Maker expert. After the initial and surprisingly funny intro, there are plenty of extra tutorials tucked away in Yamamura’s Dojo. These tutorials span from the basics, right up to how to make a course that will not only work well but also respect other players. It’s worth checking these out if you’re new, or even if you just want to get the most out of what you build. They should at least get a smile out of you.
The game themes are Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario World and New, with the addition of Super Mario 3D World. This doesn’t mean it’s just all the same content from the first Mario Maker, there have been changes throughout including a much-needed addition in slopes. Then there are new additions such as the Swinging Claw. This has several fun applications, including swinging around to fling Mario around a course. These additions may not sound that big, but even just adding slopes into Maker 2 makes a world of difference. Even just from playing the courses available it’s immediately obvious. Between slopes and extra environments, items, enemies, effects and everything else it feels like you can make courses worthy of a Mario game.
Super Mario 3D World is kept separate from the other game themes due to having unique content that doesn’t translate into the other game styles. The 3D World content makes the move to 2D platforming seamlessly, to the point it would be great to see more of it in an official capacity from Nintendo.
It’s not just the addition of glass pipes, Super Bell power-ups and new enemies; Mario and the gang have a different moveset such as the long jump. With the different moves, you can also make your 3D World course to account for this, especially if you plan on being generous with the Super Bell so Cat Mario can climb all over the place. There’s also the oddity of the Koopa Troopa Car, a Koopa-driven car that can be claimed for yourself. With the car, it opens up even more possibilities for the kinds of levels you can build.
Along with the new game style, there are also more new environments to select. Each game style has plenty, including environments that never appeared in the original game. They’ve even gone and made music to suit these environments, which wasn’t necessary but a nice touch.
Being able to add in the angry Sun into Maker 2 is another neat addition. More importantly, not only is the Sun added in but as advertised in Nintendo Directs it can be turned into the Moon. This introduces nighttime courses. Depending on the theme, the Moon will have a different challenge. In the Desert stages, it’s super windy, Forest stages with water will find the water is poisonous. Having the Moon change these levels in different ways only expands the possibility of what a creative builder can make.
One is the biggest changes for Super Mario Maker 2 from the original is going from having a TV screen and the Wii U tablet being used together to make courses. With the Switch, you can either have the TV screen or the Switch screen, with that comes a few options for controls. When docked, it’s all Joy-Con and Pro Controller controls – I wasn’t a big fan of these methods. It’s a completely valid option and once you’re used to it you’ll be making courses in no time. Going with the Switch screen means going handheld and of course using the touch screen. The tradeoff is you’re stuck on the smaller touch screen, and you have to use touch controls (along with buttons for navigation and shortcuts). Using the touch screen by finger or capacitive stylus feels like the best way to build courses. If you don’t want to play docked but want the full button controls you can always disconnect the Joy Con and play in tabletop mode. There likely won’t be controls that make everyone happy, but all the options work well. Some just take a little getting used to.
Initially, it felt like a letdown not having an extra game style hidden away, but Super Mario 3D World is a great addition to the group. Nintendo also supported the original Mario Maker post-release for some time, and it’s incredibly likely that will be the case for this game. With all the game styles they already have, they have fleshed them out further to give you the resources to make so much. Two notable omissions from this sequel are the Weird Mushroom and the Mystery Mushrooms. It’s a shame they had to go, although they might not be gone forever. But with Nintendo having fewer amiibo interactions in their games, it’s not too surprising. For now, it’s unclear if either item will make a return, but the game adds so much that you won’t really notice them gone. The one issue that might annoy players who intend to make a heap of courses is the current 32-course upload limit. For most, it won’t be an issue, but for some, it won’t be enough as they crank out course after course.
Super Mario Maker 2 is a much needed and long awaited addition to the Switch. Even the smaller additions to course-making goes a long way to giving players the tools they need to make courses that you wouldn’t be able to distinguish from the real deal. If you’re not interested in building levels, there’s plenty to play in the story mode and the content from the Course World will ensure there’s content for years to come. While there are some limitations that might irk hardcore course builders, there is so much more to like about the game. How can you pass up a Mario game that has the most inventive courses the series has seen in years!
- Even more options to build with
- 100+ courses to enjoy and learn from
- Super Mario 3D World theme is a great addition
- Course upload limit
- Missing items