Release Date: June 28th 2019
Available on: Nintendo Switch
Price: $79.99 CDN ($59.99 US)
I have always been a big fan of the Mario series, ever since I played Super Mario World at the age of 5. When Super Mario Maker on the Wii U was released back in September of 2015, I was skeptical that it was simply a tool to make levels and not much else. Much to my pleasant surprise, the level building tool was robust. The controls, when the levels were played, were on par with actual Mario games. You could also upload and download levels online, giving you an infinite amount of Mario levels. When Nintendo announced Super Mario Maker 2, I was ecstatic. With new level parts, a new gameplay style, story mode and multiplayer, it was hard to contain my excitement. So was it worth the wait?
Super Mario Maker 2 sports the same excellent gameplay as the previous Super Mario Maker. The new Super Mario 3D World style adds interesting twists. While the new moves and mechanics (long jump, pirouette jump, being able to stand on Thwomps, etc…) take some getting used to, it fits the Mario Maker mold beautifully. The controls are simple and easy to understand for newcomers yet deep, complex and familiar enough for veterans.
The story mode of Super Mario Maker 2 is surprisingly well written and has a myriad of levels made by the developers themselves. They offer a lot of inspiration for creators and present a more consistent level of challenge. It is worth noting that while none of the levels even come close to impossible, some of them do pose a decent amount of resistance. The whole story mode can be fully completed within a week of casual play.
The main appeal of Super Mario Maker for the Wii U was always the infinite amount of levels available to the player. This feature is back with a vengeance in Super Mario Maker 2. Course World still sports the near-infinite amount of levels but thanks to the new features and upgrades to the level builder, the courses feel more authentic overall. There will be a lot of levels that were either, made with little care or made to make you angry. Thankfully, Super Mario Maker 2 has a much better in-game level curator that makes truly horrendous levels much rarer to encounter.
Super Mario Maker 2 does away with the original’s 100-Mario Challenge and instead replaces it with the Endless Challenge. This, as the name implies, gives you an infinite amount of levels to complete until you run out of lives. There are four difficulty levels to this; Easy, Normal, Expert and Super Expert. While you do start with more lives on harder difficulties, they can get used up extremely quickly. With practice, however, you will start to notice gradual progress in beating your high score, which feels satisfying every time it happens.
One dividing opinion I have in Super Mario Maker 2 is with its unlockables. The original had different costumes that acted as power-ups for the Super Mario Bros style. These were a neat addition as you could either get them by using Amiibo of the respective character or by completing the 100-Mario challenge. Super Mario Maker 2, replaces this with costumes for your Mii when completing objectives. While these add style to your avatar and do appear to others in multiplayer, they do not appear in the game or have any effects in gameplay, making them more forgettable. An aspect that I feel could have been executed better is multiplayer. While it is exhilarating when it works as it should, when it doesn’t it is a miserable, lag-filled experience. The input delay can make things frustrating in a game that demands precision. This lack of quality in the netcode is inexcusable.
Another critique I have is level building while the Switch is in docked mode. Nintendo’s attempt to optimize level building in docked mode is commendable, but it’s still unintuitive. My recommendation when building levels is to undock the Switch and use the touch screen. You can also build levels with a local buddy, but that too feels very awkward, with an inordinate amount of control being given to player 1 over player 2.
Despite its flaws, the pros far outweigh the cons. If you are as big of a 2D Mario games fan as I am, I could not recommend this game enough. Sublime controls, the chance to be creative and an infinite amount of levels, Super Mario Maker 2 is a must get.