The ultimate canvas for Super Mario creativity.
It’s no secret that Nintendo loves porting their Wii U catalogue to Nintendo Switch—just look at the millions in sales for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. So, the obvious question when Super Mario Maker 2 was announced is how much of the game repurposes what we’ve already played on Wii U?
The answer is a lot, but the better answer is Super Mario Maker 2 absolutely earns its full sequel status. This follow-up takes everything great about the original—creating, playing and sharing Super Mario courses—and brings it all to the next level: new creation tools, new level themes, a new course style, a nighttime mode, a Story Mode, online multiplayer and numerous quality of life improvements.
Super Mario Maker 2 absolutely earns its full sequel status.
Super Mario Maker 2 is a game with broad appeal that can be played any way you choose. Have fun playing through the robust single-player story mode or channel your inner Miyamoto and design your wildest Super Mario courses. Invite your friends and family to test out your courses through local 4-player co-op. Then, go online and proudly share your creations with Nintendo fans from around the world. You can even skip the creation part altogether and go online to download the greatest fan-made courses this side of the Mushroom Kingdom. There are so many ways to enjoy the game, so let’s dive in for a closer look.
After toiling away for days, Mario, Toad and Toadette have finally finished constructing their elaborate castle for Princess Peach. “I can’t wait to show Peach!” Mario surely was thinking. That was, of course, until the utterly adorable and entirely unaware Undodog stepped on the Reset Rocket and blew that castle to smithereens. Oh no!
That hilarious backdrop serves as the intro to Super Mario Maker 2‘s rather meaty new story mode. With over 100 courses—and I’m totally serious here—Nintendo could have sold the story mode as a stand-alone game.
The actual story itself is nothing to write home about: you complete Taskmaster jobs (i.e. courses) for Coins and use the funds to bankroll the construction of a new castle. Oh sure, there are funny parts, like seeing Mr. Eraser work oh so hard to erase some bricks, but you don’t play SMM2‘s story mode for the story.
Nintendo is the master at disguising “learning” as fun, and that expertise is on full display in Super Mario Maker 2’s story mode.
Instead, you jump into Story Mode for the outstanding courses that span multiple styles and themes, all while inspiring you to design your own courses. The course conditions add so much to the fun: in one early level, you have to carry a heavy stone that severely limits your jumps to the Goal Pole. A later course had me driving a Koopa Troopa Car like I was playing a 2D version of Mario Kart.
Without even realizing it, all this fun you’re having is also teaching you how SMM2‘s creation tools work. You’ll learn how to use the new Twisters to hurl Mario high into the air. You’ll see first-hand how the new Swinging Claw is used to fling Mario across gaps. And you’ll appreciate how the new On/Off Switches can inject courses with more excitement and fun.
Nintendo is the master at disguising “learning” as fun, and that expertise is on full display in Super Mario Maker 2‘s story mode.
Course Maker – Super Mario 3D World
Once I cleared Story Mode, it was on to Course Maker Mode to check out what’s new. And, well, there’s a lot that’s new.
The best addition, by far, is the ability to create Super Mario 3D World levels, but in 2D. This course style is unique in that it’s not compatible with the other returning styles, namely Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U. By not compatible, I mean once you start a Super Mario 3D World course, you cannot switch to any other style later on.
The reason for this restriction is because the Super Mario 3D World style includes a ton of exclusive items, enemies and gizmos. This includes my all-time favourite Super Mario power-up, the Super Bell, which turns Mario and gang into their cat form. Meow! In this form, characters can climb walls, perform a scratch attack and do a lunging cat dive. You can even climb up the end-stage goal pole to always nab that top spot and earn the maximum number of coins.
The best addition, by far, is the ability to create Super Mario 3D World levels.
The Super Mario 3D World style further expands what’s possible to create in Super Mario Mario Maker 2. You can add Clear Pipes to travel between areas, plant some devious Piranha Creepers or have players face off against Bowser’s cat variant, Meowser.
One caution with this new course style is that some items and enemies are not usable. For example, you can’t bring Bowser Jr., Lakitu or Boo Buddies into your Super Mario 3D World courses. Nintendo played it faithful to the original game, for better or for worse. What this does mean is courses you create using this style, and ones you download from other players, will all look and feel distinct. To that end, it makes Super Mario 3D World courses stand out and have their own vibe.
One minor gripe about Course Maker—in handheld mode you can only create courses using the touchscreen. That means you have to use your finger to tap or drag, since Switch doesn’t come with a stylus. It’s not a big deal, I eventually got used to touch controls, but having the option of stick control would have been nice.
Course Maker – Styles and Themes
As mentioned, Super Mario Maker 2 brings back all four styles from the previous games, but adds the glorious new Super Mario 3D World style. That means you can create courses with an 8-bit, 16-bit or modern day flavour. Even better, during course creation, you can flip between the various styles (sans Super Mario 3D World) to see how your level looks in each.
Keep in mind that each style has unique characteristics. For example, Mario can slide down slopes in the Super Mario Bros. 3 style, but can’t in the Super Mario Bros. style. In the Super Mario World style, Mario has his spin jump move that can break certain blocks. So when creating courses, really put yourself into the mindset of the style you’re using.
On top of styles, you can also select the course theme from 10 different options. You’ve got six returning themes (ground, underground, underwater, castle, airship, ghost house) and four news ones (desert, snow, sky, forest). Some of the new themes introduce new challenges; for instance, snow levels make Mario slip and slide. Forest stages let you set the water level, even allowing you to make the water rise and fall. There are so many options at your disposal to make each course unique.
But wait, there’s more. Each theme has a “nighttime” version that not only darkens the mood but also injects new elements. Night forest courses swap out the friendly water for deadly poison lakes. Underground stages flip upside down at night and ground stages have floating Goombas. My personal favourites are the night sky levels where gravity gets dramatically reduced. Hello, floaty jumps!
Course Maker – New items
I feel like, at this point, the value proposition for Super Mario Maker 2 is very apparent, and yet there’s still so much to talk about. Take, for instance, the at least two dozen new items and gizmos you can place in your levels.
Even something simple like placing one of the new slopes can turn a dull, flat level into a high-speed slip and slide. The new Swinging Claw gives courses a fun UFO catcher flavour, and it’s especially entertaining when combined with the “no touching the ground after jumping” course condition. If you’re feeling particularly mean, you can also hide Rotten Mushrooms in ? Blocks, which cause damage if touched.
I feel like, at this point, the value proposition for Super Mario Maker 2 is very apparent, and yet there’s still so much to talk about.
One particular new item highlight for me is the Superball Flower—only usable in the Super Mario Bros. style—that allows Mario to throw superballs. It also changes the course music to Super Mario Land, one of my favourite Super Mario games. Now that’s cool!
Of course, just like in the previous game, you can combine items in nifty ways to spice up your levels. Enemies can be stacked to form an enemy tower, or you can hide enemies in ? blocks, you meanie! You can also add sound effects to objects. For example, you can add an audience clapping SFX once enemies defeat a particularly challenging enemy. No matter how many times I hear the clapping, I still feel proud of the accomplishment, even when all I did was bop a Koopa Troopa on the head!
Course World – Courses
Provided you’ve got a Nintendo Switch Online membership, you can go online to check out the revamped Course World. This is where you can play courses made from players around the world and even download them to play later offline.
To start, you’ll need to build your own “Maker” profile, which is basically selecting your existing Mii or creating a new one. From there, you can access the online hub containing thousands of user-created stages. The searching process has been enhanced from the previous game, as you can now filter by parameters like style, theme, difficulty and region.
Additionally, users can tag courses with descriptors like “Puzzle-solving,” “Short and sweet,” or “Autoscroll,” and these tags can also be used to filter. Let’s say you want to play a challenging autoscroll course using the Super Mario Bros. 3 theme. That’s entirely possible, provided someone has uploaded one. I was very impressed with how easy it was to find a course suited to my tastes, which is a testament to Nintendo’s deep filtering options and the number of user-created courses already uploaded. Best of all, with new courses being uploaded all the time, you can check back often to see the latest and greatest available.
While in Course World, be sure to visit the Endless Challenge area where you can run a gauntlet of created courses. You can select between easy, normal, hard and very hard options, giving players of all skill level the ability have fun here.
Course World – Multiplayer
It wouldn’t be a Super Mario game without multiplayer now would it? Super Mario Maker 2 adds offline and online multiplayer for up to four people. Offline is the way to go if you want to play with family or friends—oddly enough, you can’t play with friends online. Luckily, up to four players can all connect to one Switch console, though you’ll need four Joy-Con controllers.
Online Network Play is where multiplayer gets interesting. You have the choice of working together via Multiplayer Co-op or have a free for all in Multiplayer Versus.
In Co-op mode, up to four players work together to finish a course; and if a single player finishes, everyone wins. Easy peasy, eh! In Multiplayer Versus, everyone is selfishly out for themselves, with the first to touch the Goal Pole winning the course.
To further promote competitiveness, Course World includes online leaderboards that record the fastest course completion time. My online Maker username is “MrJickles”—think you can beat me? Challenge accepted!
Super Mario Maker 2 is oh so juicy
No matter which way you slice it, Super Mario Maker 2 is a juicy new addition to the Nintendo Switch library. The value here is off the charts: 100+ pre-made levels, a full course editor, thousands of fan-created courses to download and a full multiplayer offering. This is a Super Mario game that will evolve and enlarge over time as more created courses are uploaded by the community.
I also appreciate how Super Mario Maker 2 is not afraid to break the traditional Super Mario boundaries. You can stack enemies, add funny sound effects, create devilishly hard levels, even race around in a go-kart. Not only does SMM2 contain some of the best core Super Mario experiences I’ve ever had, but there are even more zany, experimential courses. SMM2 pushes the entire Super Mario franchise forward, and that says a lot given how far we’ve come since Mario’s 8-bit days.
Super Mario Maker 2 – Pros:
- Super Mario 3D World is a fantastic addition
- Really enjoying the new desert, snow, sky, forest themes
- Nighttime mode is super fun. Poison lakes!
- So many new creation tools, enemies and items
- Story mode is a full game unto itself
- Virtually unlimited replayability
- Multiplayer offers extreme fun
Super Mario Maker 2 – Cons:
- Cannot play with friends online
- Handheld mode forces you to create courses using touch
- Can’t edit download courses
- Gameplay: 9/10
- Graphics: 9/10
- Sound: 9.5/10
- Replayability: 10/10