Super Mario Maker 2 (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 26.06.2019

Review for Super Mario Maker 2 on Nintendo Switch

From that first leap over a Goomba to the triumphant leap over that final Bowser, 2D Super Mario Bros. games have maintained the test of time. It's been over three decades, and the platformer's flagship adventures are typically woven with clever and interesting set pieces. What if players could create their own Mario level? Power-ups, puzzles and frantic bosses? Nintendo answered that question with Super Mario Maker on the Wii U back in 2015. Seasoned veteran plumbers and newcomers alike got stuck in and created some trucky mind-boggling courses to overcome - taking the tool to extremes. With Super Mario Maker 2 bringing more Mario chaos to Nintendo Switch, is it a deluxe experience or a true sequel?

The Super Mario Bros. series, for many, set the benchmark of side-scrolling game design. Even the simplest scene with a single plodding baddie and a power-up box paved the way for now-standard mechanics. There's a sense of purpose. Strategically placed tiles, bumpers, enemies serve up a challenge, but also guide players through the chaos. Despite this, Nintendo are often known for balancing their game designs; so main-series titles are structured with a good difficulty ratio.

What would happen if the shackles of constraint were let loose? If the geniuses in the gaming community got their paws on a Mario level editor? Super Mario Maker is the answer, and the sequel takes things to a new level.

One thing that's immediately apparent when booting up Super Mario Maker 2 for the first time is the sheer volume of customisation available. From the standard item blocks to the new slopes, the giant coins to, poison mushroom - the possibilities are truly endless. The original game had a solid and flexible toolset, but this time round things become even more dynamic.! The more intriguing highlights come through just how the level flow can change. On/off toggles or snake blocks allow poor Mario along a pre-determined path or toggle the visibility of blocks. An example concept (that admittedly took us three hours to perfect) - was where an on/off switch toggled a platform to disappear, which brings down a giant Koopa enemy onto a moving platform. A conveyor belt of utter chaos!

Screenshot for Super Mario Maker 2 on Nintendo Switch

Features that creators clamoured for in the original Super Mario Maker have been drafted into the mix with full force. Vertical scrolling sees the plumber and friends ascending to the top of the map for some frantic, Bowser's Castle-esque sequences and new warp blocks (in the Super Mario 3D World tileset) unlock a frenzy of teleport chains. One frustrating, yet ingenious, example from a fellow journalist saw Mario scramble to the top of a haunted stage, entering a door into an area. Within the new room are four warp blocks, but only one paving the way to the end. The rest spawn above an endless pit of pain.

The original game was quite the slog to unlock all the available tools, and though there are secrets tucked away, Super Mario Maker 2 serves up practically everything from the get-go. Having a myriad of tiles, baddies and items available can have the potential to be overwhelming, but the interface has been streamlined to better group the different pieces - through circles of elements. It allows for the different options to be accessible far quicker and for newcomers to better work out functionality.

Of course, the best way to create a level is to simply give it a go. With quick re-spawning Mario and the option to fast scroll through courses, it makes testing far less finicky. Need to assess whether Bowser will narrowly miss the bopping clown car of doom, whilst a cleverly placed shell triggers deadly icicle to drop from the ceiling? Keep testing it until it's fool-proof. That's the draw and appeal of Super Mario Maker 2. The additional and core tiles offer so much to consider, and long nights will be well spent forging the perfect concoction. Think of it like setting up an elaborate string of dominoes - where everything just has to line up. That said, all sorts of levels can be created on the empty canvas - whether it's a more action-heavy romp, or complex brain-tingling puzzles. There's certainly a play style available for all types of players.

Screenshot for Super Mario Maker 2 on Nintendo Switch

The eternal struggle, however, is knowing just where to begin. With an empty canvas, knowing exactly where to go with a concept can be a tricky thing. Nintendo doesn't hand-hold, but does serve up a comprehensive story mode to help give the old noggin' a push. It's not exactly a story mode in the traditional sense - so no intense cut-scenes and tear-jerkers here, but it doesn't need to be. Instead, the campaign is more of a mission mode with purpose. The scenario: The adorable puppy Undodog casually steps on an erase switch, bringing Princess Peach's castle crumbling down. The poor monarch recruits the ever-devoted Mario and a cohort of Toad to rebuild it all. Despite collecting hundreds of coins over decades, though, the group are a little worse for wear, finance wise! So, how about tackling missions for a little bit of coin?

Each of the missions serve up something utterly and beautifully bizarre. This is certainly not a regular Super Mario Bros. experience bolted on. It's the result of the team at Nintendo being let loose to brew something quirky, unique, bonkers but thoroughly rewarding. Some sequences are pure, unrivalled joy to breeze though, whilst others riddled with difficulty. Towards the end of the mode, there some truly special moments that are worth getting to!

Working through the mode really does help trigger some interesting mechanics - things that wouldn't make much sense by itself but strung together in certain ways are simple genius. It would be interesting to see if Nintendo serve up more official levels going forward, but the community will certainly deliver on that front.

Screenshot for Super Mario Maker 2 on Nintendo Switch

Alongside the new tiles, Super Mario Maker 2 boasts a heap of cosmetic improvements to add much-needed variation. The diabolical water levels make a splash, together with fierce fire for those more heat inclined. Fresh themes include the scorching desert, the mysterious forest, soaring skies and chilly snow variations. With these in play, it's not just the background that shifts - but the mood of the piece.

The fun doesn't stop there, though, as the new Moon piece twists each of the standard levels with some surreal concepts. Goobas will float about in the Ground Night variation, and stand storms will attack the desert once the sun sets. These can really unlock even more play possibilities - a new and untapped side to Mario. Those more familiar with Mario's recent antics can also give the exclusive Super Mario 3D World style a-go. Using the Wii U game's style as a base, this mode throws in even more quirky mechanics to the mix - the aforementioned warp blocks, climbing cat suits, blinking rhythm blocks and more!

What happens once the best-level-ever has been created? Simply upload it to the library of courses needing to be played - share it all online. Each level can be played with up to four players, online, in versus or co-operatively; a neat addition to the mix. That said, Nintendo currently don't have the ability to play alongside friends - though series producer Takashi Tezuka has confirmed that it will be patch in at some-point. The joys of playing with others through custom-made levels offers a range of pure emotion. Playing in a devious level with fellow journalists pre-launch, one particular course involved three floating clown cars, and three mushroom. Nothing unusual here, right? But what happens if it's a four player affair…? It'll be intriguing to see just what players will create with these new variations!

Screenshot for Super Mario Maker 2 on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

If Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the celebration of all things Nintendo, Super Mario Maker 2 is the ultimate celebration of all things Mario! The original Wii U game expanded on what was possible in a Mario course, but the follow-up elevates the experience with true sequel status. A comprehensive mission-driven campaign, boundless tools and tiles and additional themes serve up a tonne of potential for creators! Super Mario Maker 2 offers a canvas to create a truly authentic Super Mario Bros. experience - Press start, the flagpole awaits!






2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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