I never got the chance to really get into Nintendo’s original take on the sandbox-creation genre with the original Super Mario Maker. I loved what I saw, it just sort of flew by me when it originally came out, plus I sort of moved on from the 3DS and never got into the Wii U. When I saw its sequel be announced with all its new features and content, I knew I absolutely had to check the game out. Now that the highly-anticipated DIY Super Mario game is here, was it worth the wait? How does Super Mario Maker 2 stand up to other sandbox and/or player-created content games? I’ve got to say it’s pretty fantastic, read on to find out why!
Super Mario Maker 2
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: June 28th, 2019
Players: 1-4 Players
Super Mario Maker 2 includes five distinct visual styles that you can design your levels in – Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, New Super Mario Bros. U, and Super Mario 3D World. All five styles are quite different, and are downright excellent to fiddle around with,
While the former four are interchangeable, some options in 3D World – like the cat suit – cannot be used in the older, 2D style games. I had a lot of fun switching through each style and seeing how levels I crafted looked in each style. Despite some visuals being quite old, it retains that charm.
The Super Mario Bros. series has always featured iconic and whimsical graphics. However, there’s something about hand-crafting your own Mario levels, in my case sometimes poorly, and really going outside typical level designs or themes found in the series. The possibilities are truly endless.
Super Mario Maker 2 brings with it a whole host of new features over its predecessor, including an offline, Nintendo-made story mode that could very well be its own standalone Super Mario game. The story mode alone has over 100 levels for you to play through, and that’s just the beginning.
The addition of Super Mario 3D World brings other things as well, like the Super Bell power-up, new level themes like sky, snow, forest, and desert, new terrain options like slopes, and even a nighttime feature. You can play as Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Toadette in both single-player and online.
Performance overall was rock solid no matter how many items, enemies, or various doodads I put in the level. Even when switching to the modern 2.5D visual style found in later games, I never noticed a hit to performance in Super Mario Maker 2.
Overall the game plays and feels just like a mainline Super Mario game would, only you can build levels entirely from scratch with quite possibly the most accessible level-editor I have ever seen. Due to the controls and target audience, it makes sense for the level editor to focus on touch controls.
Without even going through a tutorial I hopped into level creation and quickly sank hours upon hours experimenting with things. There really is an insane number of things you can try, and considering the stuff already on the online component, there will always be exciting new things to play.
Even though my son is only five, he played around quite a bit with the Course Maker level editor, and we also tried the co-op out a bit too. It’s simply a blast to play around with and make crazy new patterns and zones. The editor is so snappy and quick, it really makes it easy to retry things endlessly.
Getting a bit deeper with the level options are things like customized enemies – like a red koopa with both wings and a parachute. You can also make enemies huge, or make cannons shoot out coins, or super fast conveyor belts, and so much more. There are insane numbers of options here.
The music in Super Mario Maker 2 is, as expected, as magical as the gameplay itself. The assorted classic themes, melodies, and various tunes are all here and there’s new stuff as well. Koji Kondo shows off his pedigree in this sequel, and the cavalcade of music does not disappoint, it excels.
The sound effects in Super Mario Maker 2 are something else entirely, as the very nature of the game involves lots of experimentation. And thus, lots of sound bites are constantly riffing from your Switch or TV’s speakers. They never get annoying, they simply add to the magic of the game.
Perhaps I’m too much of a music and sound aficionado, but I really couldn’t get enough of the various tracks and blips from Super Mario Maker 2. The audio design is superb, and when Nintendo really nails audio – which they usually do – there is so much to digest.
The story mode in Super Mario Maker 2 isn’t quite as robust as the recent mainstream titles like Super Mario Odyssey, naturally, but it features enough content to make even those who aren’t too into the level editor feel satisfied. With over 100 levels to complete, there’s a lot to play through.
In the beginning, Mario, Toadette, and several other Toads finally completed building Princess Peach’s castle, only to have Undodog accidentally step on a Reset Rocket button, erasing the entire castle. To rebuild it, Mario has to collect coins from various “jobs” or levels given by the Taskmaster.
After completing a level, Mario will retain the coins gathered and can use them towards the castle. Some of the levels feature Toads that have to be rescued, as well as Mr. Eraser and Undodog, the latter of which can also assign jobs to Mario. As you rebuild, you can explore the castle too.
Considering the number of options in both Course Maker, Story Mode, online play, and more, Super Mario Maker 2 feels like a full-blown celebration of the classic Super Mario Bros. games, and I really can’t put it down. Story Mode alone was so much fun, and emboldened me to experiment more.
Despite putting a lot of time into the game, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of Super Mario Maker 2. There really is a massive amount of content here just waiting to be toyed with, and it makes me wish for more. I simply can’t get enough, so back to Course Maker I go!
Super Mario Maker was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a review copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.