Super Mario Maker 2 (Nintendo Switch) Second Opinion Review

By Az Elias 11.02.2020

Review for Super Mario Maker 2 on Nintendo Switch

Super Mario Maker on Wii U was somewhat of a revelation. It is no secret that Nintendo has progressively branched out into allowing other developers to work with their IPs in recent times, but not many could have predicted the company would let its fans craft their very own Super Mario platform levels to share with the rest of the world. As one of the best-selling games on Wii U, it seemed only logical it would at least be ported over to Nintendo Switch where it could thrive. With Nintendo opting to brand this a sequel, though, and with a handful of updates since its 2019 release, is Super Mario Maker 2 everything it can be?

Like many great titles on Wii U that deserved to be in more people's hands, Super Mario Maker very much got the port treatment here, with a "2" slapped on the end that would otherwise indicate something far more content packed and fresh of ideas. That's not to say Super Mario Maker 2 isn't, but even with some decent updates over the last few months, there is no doubt Nintendo could be doing more with this potentially brilliant game.

Perhaps the most prominent addition to Super Mario Maker 2 is the Super Mario 3D World game style. Separate from the four others present and previously found in the first Mario Maker - Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U - this style comes from the Wii U title of the same name, and brings with it some elements that cannot be used on courses made with the other styles.

Some liberties are taken so as to convert what is really a 3D platformer style into one that works in 2D, but the developers have done a great job at ensuring things are carried over sufficiently, creating a style that stands out from the others. This includes adding in the Super Bell, which transforms Mario into Cat Mario, allowing him to climb walls and swipe enemies; Clear Pipes, which can be bent to transport the player to other sections of the stage, with enemies also being able to zip through them; Koopa Troopa Cars, which Mario can hop in and drive through the stage at speed, turning levels into a Mario Kart-esque racing track; as well as Blinking Blocks, which alternate between being active and not, adding some platforming challenge.

Screenshot for Super Mario Maker 2 on Nintendo Switch

More features are included in this style, and they are enough to mean levels made in it are diverse, but the reverse is true in that there are elements of the other four styles that aren't carried into the 3D World style. It seems odd to block certain objects and enemies like vines, spike pillars, fire bars, Lakitus, Chain Chomps, and Angry Suns (to name a few) from being usable, but on the flipside, it does offer impetus to make the most out of each style's toolset.

In general, there are quite a lot of additions to the overall range of tools. New course themes that include desert, sky and airship are brought in, with auto-scrolling and water/lava levels being adjustable. Day and night themes can also be activated, with the night theme having an often whacky effect on the entire stage depending on which theme is applied; for example, the forest levels' water turns to poison, ice levels become slippery, wind blows Mario around in the desert, and gravity is flipped on its head underground, with Mario navigating whilst running along the ceiling.

Swinging claws can grab Mario and items, and he can use these to gain enough momentum to swing over pitfalls and enemies. One major new highlight is on/off switches, which turn on and off red and blue dotted blocks; combine these creatively, and some quick reflex platforming can be produced. Tracks can be placed to allow not just platforms, but enemies and other items, too, to follow a set path along the ground or in the air. Whilst this introduces even more options and can be combined with on/off switches to send platforms onto multiple paths around a level, the track lines are visually unpleasant. Lack of an option to hide them, particularly when using them for setting enemies and platforms onto short paths, is a pain.

Screenshot for Super Mario Maker 2 on Nintendo Switch

Super Mario Maker 2 has had some decent updates since launch, and it is hoped Nintendo continues such support. The most surprising free content is the ability to transform Mario into Link from The Legend of Zelda series by picking up the Master Sword item in the Super Mario Bros. game style. This completely reworks Mario's moveset into one that many Zelda fans will be familiar with. Link can throw bombs to blow up blocks, slash his sword to defeat enemies, dash along the ground and over gaps, down thrust to destroy enemies below, block attacks with his shield, and fire arrows in multiple direction to hit foes and switches. As well as throwing in some classic Zelda music for good measure, Link's original moves really bring some much-needed freshness to a game that has the unfortunate knack of getting a bit stale at times. Level creativity is dramatically boosted, but there is the case that more of a puzzle element naturally comes to the forefront because of the type of moves at Link's disposal.

Why the lack of so many additional features, items, enemies, music, characters, and game styles, though? Why even list the 3D World style in a section called "Extra Styles" (plural) when it is the only additional style that branches off from the other four? Hopefully, Nintendo surprises players with some free DLC like it did with Link and brings in something workable from Super Mario Bros. 2 or Yoshi's Island.

In the end, it is still very much up to the creators themselves to keep the game going strong. Unfortunately, there just seems to be too much restriction on what can be done. Plenty of enemies and objects are held back from the games they appeared in, level length isn't quite enough when looking for traditional platform stages, and although the addition of a few music tracks is great, why so limited in choice? If you want to design or are looking for puzzle-type stages, auto-scrollers, fascinating auto-Mario levels, and super tough pixel perfect runs, this will satisfy many. For those pining for classic 2D Mario platforming, the choice is a bit limited. It can be hard to excavate the greatest levels from the duds - and there are a lot of weeds here.

Users will slap together just about anything, and they will end up in the Endless Challenge mode, which consists entirely of user-created levels. Thankfully, the ability to skip a stage is present, but basing a mode around randomly picked uploaded levels can really be a hit or miss affair…and it's usually a miss.

Screenshot for Super Mario Maker 2 on Nintendo Switch

With some persistence, it is possible to find solidly built levels that appeal to you, but it re-emphasises how reliant on other players you are. The best bet likely will be to look for people on the web and forums that create the type of content you want and adding them to your favourite creators. It can help to look through the stages your followed players have played themselves, too. With some word of mouth and checking out others' likes, there can be some lasting appeal to Super Mario Maker 2 when it comes to the actual playing side.

It is worth pointing out that the addition of a simple story mode, which contains mainly short levels that do a good job of introducing both new and old features of the game, is most welcome. Sadly, this might be the only worthy single-player content Nintendo has crafted, although some official regional Nintendo accounts do upload some content occasionally. Ninji Speedruns are a recently added mode where players must complete Nintendo-built stages in as quick a time as possible, but they are short-lived. Perhaps the plethora of speedrun-like stages from users spurred the developers on to put out a more official-like section that focuses on this.

Multiplayer plays a much bigger role, although it can be an iffy experience online, where lag can be the detriment of enjoyment. With both a co-op and versus side to play on uploaded courses, it does open the door to some fun levels, especially when they are designed with multiplayer in mind. Puzzle levels can really work well here, with one player hitting switches to let another pass an obstacle, for example. Heck, even the course maker mode allows for local co-op, so you and a partner can work together to craft something in tandem. Let one work on the first area whilst the other handles the sub-area to see what amalgamation you can come up with!

Screenshot for Super Mario Maker 2 on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Nintendo has a fully functioning and well-built level maker in Super Mario Maker 2. It plays it very safe with regards to what can be done, and you won't often find major bugs that players can exploit because of the control and care taken. This is both a good and a bad thing. The restrictions keep things very boxed off, despite there still being just enough freedom to come up with some brilliant ideas. It can be hard to find the type of quality levels players are striving for, despite the search functions, and in turn, it can be difficult to get your own levels noticed and played. Sharing on forums and following good creators can be the saving grace, because great content is out there; it's just tough to find. There is plenty of potential to make Mario Maker 2 a worthy sequel if Nintendo went for it, but it lies with them on whether or not they unhook those leashes from players and continue to bring in more features both old and new.






2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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