Super Mario Maker 2 marks the spinoff franchise’s official debut on the Nintendo Switch console. For those unfamiliar with the central concept behind the Mario Maker games, they have two main modes. The first is Course Design, where the player can create and customize their own unique Super Mario Bros. style level. The second mode, Course World, allows you to play levels designed by other players all over the world. Of course, many of the levels out there are utter garbage, with some even designed to kill you the moment you begin playing. Fortunately, the game has a feature to sort by the most popular courses, allowing the player to separate wheat from chaff.
The most noticeable difference between Super Mario Maker 2 and Super Mario Maker (the game’s Wii U-exclusive predecessor) is the general control scheme. Playing the original Mario Maker on the Wii U required the player to make use of the unwieldy and often maligned Nintendo Gamepad (an external controller doubling as a screen), whereas the sequel allows for the use of any Nintendo Switch-compatible controller. This simple change brings large benefits, both ergonomic and practical.
One major complaint regarding the original game was the fact that not all the level creation features were available at the outset and instead had to be unlocked one-by-one. Casting basic game features as unlockable content is like giving a kid a remote-controlled car for Christmas but making him go out and buy his own batteries. Super Mario Maker 2 rectifies this by making all level design features available right at the get-go.
The level-editing function features a vast amount of customizability. Notable features include terrain building, enemy placement, among many others. The game essentially allows you total control over almost every aspect of a Super Mario Bros. level. One of the best features is the ability to change the graphics style of the level. Options include the 3D graphics from modern Mario games as well as the classic pixelated styles seen in the older titles. Changing the graphics impacts gameplay, with each style giving Mario the same moves and handling seen in that respective game.
While the level-editing function is enjoyable, the biggest thing the game offers by far is the sheer number of levels available to play. With thousands of levels currently out, as well as new ones being designed every day, this is a game that can stay fresh for as long as players are interested in it. The steady stream of user-made content ensures that the game always has something new to offer. This serves to make Super Mario Maker 2 unique among other platforming games, which all have a finite number of levels as dictated by the developer.
I found Super Mario Maker 2 to be the most fun when played in a room full of friends, passing along the controller from person to person as you try to complete a challenging level. It can be a very social game, despite being purely single player when played offline (of course, if you have no friends, you can always just do the online mode). As for online play, your mileage may vary based on each player’s connection (as one bad Wi-Fi signal has the potential to snowball the entire session into a lag-filled dumpster fire). That said, this is the case for most games requiring multiple internet connections.
It is worth noting Nintendo’s gradual transition from traditional Super Mario Bros. games (with a finite set of premade courses) to the more freeform Super Mario Maker series. With the Mario Maker games, any and all levels Nintendo could make can not only be replicated but improved upon in some respect by the thousands of dedicated players out there. After all, for every four troll levels you come across, you’re bound to find at least one decent stage. Some even predict that the Super Mario Maker series will completely replace traditional Mario Bros. titles in the near future. Whether this is accurate or not remains to be seen. Overall, I give Super Mario Maker 2 4 hats out of 5, for the sheer amount of content the game offers.