Platform: Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: Physical Version
Category: Action, Adventure
No. of Players: 1-4 player
Release Date: June 28th, 2019 (EU & NA)
Price: $59.99 USD
The year was 1985. Super Mario Bros. released on the NES and its popularity and success helped shape the future of videogame. The Super Mario Bros. Series blossomed and after 30 years, Super Mario Maker for the Nintendo Wii U was brought upon the world. The folks over at Nintendo handed the keys to the kingdom over to the player and allowed them to create their own Super Mario Levels.
Moving onto 2019 and the Nintendo Switch has its own Super Mario Maker in the form of a sequel, Super Mario Maker 2. The second iteration of the “Make Your Own Mario” game brought even more mechanics and parts for players to mess around with, allowing players to get even more creative with their own courses.
Super Mario Maker 2 is primarily a ‘Mario Builder’, in which you can create your own levels and upload them online so other people can play them. It does have its own Story mode that works like a large tutorial that also provides plenty of examples and ideas to help you with making your own courses.
As to the actual plot of Story Mode, Toadette the Toads and Mario have finished building Princess Peach’s Castle. Proud of their work, they admire the castle until Undodog comes along and presses down on the Reset Button. The Castle then disappears in front of their eyes and now Toadette and the Toads need to build the castle all over again. With the help of Mario of course.
Toadette and the Toads task Mario to take on ‘jobs’ in order to raise funds to rebuild the castle. The coins made whilst working through multiple levels and the payment for clearing them are required to restore the castle to its former glory.
Super Mario Maker 2, much like its predecessor, has two distinct forms of gameplay: Level playing and Level creation. Level creation is done in the Course Maker mode. Everything is available right from the start. Items, blocks, terrain, enemies, and gizmos are all unlocked from the start except for a couple of items that are unlocked through Story Mode.
When creating levels, you have a choice between 5 different 2D Game Styles; Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, Super Mario Bros. U, and Super Mario 3D World. There are 10 level themes that you can use on each of them, including ground, underground, desert, castle, airship, ghost house, snow, forest, sky, and underwater. There is also the extra option to create night themed course by adding the Moon part to your courses.
Anything you can physically use like objects, terrain or enemies are called parts. You can place them practically any way you feel, though some parts cannot occupy the same space as other parts. They can, however, be stacked upon each other in most game modes with the exception of the 3D World Game Style. You can make towers of Goombas, Koopas, Spinies or even mix them up completely.
The possibilities are truly endless, with the only limitations being your own imagination. Okay, well there are limits to how large you can make courses or how many parts can be used. You can expand your courses by creating a sub-level and connecting as many pipes between the main level and sub-level as you like. Sub levels have two orientations: horizontal and vertical. This allows players to create vertical climb or descent sections to add even more variety.
On any particular course that you create, you can opt to include an auto-scroll. This can stop players from backtracking and push them to continue forward. There are three standard speeds that are automatically set to follow the orientation of the level. You can also create a custom scroll that you can manually set to follow a specific course as well as add pauses, slowdowns or even speed ups.
If you plan to make relatively difficult courses but still want to keep things fair, you can add checkpoints. You can add one checkpoint per level and sub-levels, making a total of two checkpoints per course. If you want to make things more challenging, you can add course conditions like defeat a number of a particular enemy, collect a certain number of coins or all of them or be in possession of a particular power-up or item. If you set course conditions, you can’t add checkpoints to your course.
Any time during creation, you can save your courses or load other ones that you have made. Bear in mind to save any changes you made beforehand otherwise, you will lose any progress you have made. Of course, what good is creating courses if you don’t play them or let other people play them?
You can upload your courses online but before you can, you will need to beat them first from the beginning and from any checkpoints you have placed. You can upload up to 32 courses online and can provide a name and a description for each, as well as up to two tags that best define your course. If you have other courses you would like to upload, you will have to delete courses from your profile online first.
Moving on from course creation, lets now look to actually playing courses. Any courses you create can be played in the Coursebot mode. You can also play courses that you have downloaded from other users as well. You can’t edit these courses or reverse engineer them into making your own courses but you can play them offline as often as you like.
The Story Mode has over 100 different courses also known as ‘jobs.’ The coins you earn can be used to rebuild different parts of the castle as well as ornaments. It takes time for the Toads to rebuild parts of the castle, so you will have to work more jobs while you wait for the toads to make progress.
Other characters also have a few jobs for you as well. The likes of Undodog and Mr. Eraser have a couple of tasks for you that if fulfilled, will reward you with some outfits for your Profile character but I will talk more on that later.
Story Mode is one of the few modes that have more of a ‘3D’ feel to it. Whilst you can only really move left and right on the screen. You can move slightly towards the foreground and background as well to interact with things on either side of the path.
When playing courses online or offline, the main objective is to reach the flagpole at the end of the level. If Course conditions are set, you will have to meet them before reaching the flagpole as it will not appear until you do. Not all courses are straightforward either. With so many course creators out there with their own ideas, some courses can have themes or puzzles that need to be solved.
The ingenuity of people really shows in Music themed courses that play compositions of well-known songs. The auto levels have also made a return and use the game’s own momentum and gravity mechanics to manipulate Mario around some rather elaborate stages.
CONTENT & FEATURES:
Okay, so let’s talk about content and there is quite a lot of it. Course World is the online mode of the game and where Super Mario Maker 2 really starts to shine. Here you can play courses that other people have made online. Play with other people in Multiplayer modes and even create or join a Room via Local Wireless with friends.
On the main screen for Course World, you have four central options as well as access to your Profile, Main Menu, ID, and Maker customizations. Your Profile displays the number of courses you have played, uploaded, liked and an overview of your status. The Main menu gives access to change between Course World, Coursebot, Story Mode and Course Maker.
ID works like a Search bar and allows you to find courses and Makers via a nine-digit/letter code. The Maker option allows you to customize your Mii avatar with outfits you have earned. You can also change your appearance with any Mii you have created on your Switch. The name you would like to display on your Profile can also be changed in Maker.
The four modes centered on the screen are Courses, Leaderboards, Network Play, and Endless Challenge. Courses will give you access to the many courses out there. They are listed under Hot, Popular and New. You can also do a detailed search to find courses that are more suited to your style of play.
Leaderboards list the top Course Makers, Players and Versus Players in the world. The top Course Makers have the most points and Medals from the number of times people have played and liked their courses. Players are ranked by the number of courses they have played. Versus Players are ranked by the player with the most points in Multiplayer Versus.
Network play allows you to play with other people online. In Multiplayer Co-op, up to four players can play and work together to beat each course. In Multiplayer Versus, players are against each other and whoever reaches the flagpole first is the winner. When you win, you will earn points to increase your rank and your versus score. If you lose in Multiplayer Versus, you will also lose some points which can lower your rank.
It is in Network Play where you can also play with friends via Local Wireless. One player must create a room and up to three people can join it. You will all be able to play together with the host of the room in charge of when players can start the next course. In all modes in Network play, you will play as a character selected at random between Mario, Luigi, Blue Toad, and Toadette.
There are no differences in the performance of each character like in other games. Mario, Luigi, Blue Toad, and Toadette all run at the same speed, jump the same distance, etc. This is to keep things fair between people playing competitively. If you are playing on your own. You can choose which character you would like to play with via the settings menu.
Endless Challenge is exactly as it sounds. You can play through as many courses as you so desire, providing you have enough lives in the bank. If you lose all your lives, you will have to start from the beginning. There are four settings for difficulty; Easy, Normal, Expert and Super Expert.
You can play and leave each difficulty whenever you like and save your progress as long as you still have lives to play with. You can’t transfer lives over to the other difficulties so if you need to get extra lives, you will have to find them in the courses you play, either by hidden in courses, reaching the top of the flag pole or collecting 100 coins.
Endless Challenge may seem like a useless mode but it does have some medals attached to it for completing a certain amount of courses in it. You can also unlock customization options for your avatar. These items being hats, tops, bottoms and full body outfits.
While it comes to gameplay style. Docked mode ideal for those that want to take in every little detail on screen and is ideal for playing courses. In handheld mode, you can play Super Mario Maker 2 portably. It also has the added benefit of touchscreen controls. Navigating and placing parts in the Course Creator is much easier as you can simply slide your finger across the screen. You can also use a rubber-tipped or “multi-touch” stylus to move or select the different options as well.
Another handy feature is that you can now create courses with a friend. By handing a friend a Joy-Con, you can work together on the same screen to bring your courses to life. There are also plenty of tips that you can learn in Yamamura’s Dojo. These tips go through the do’s and don’t’s of course creation and can give you inspiration and ideas for your own courses.
When playing other people’s courses online, you can leave a comment or give them a heart if you enjoyed their course as weel. If you are the fastest person to complete the course, you can also leave a world record time for others to try and beat as well.
As well as adding physical parts to your courses, you can also add sound effects to give them even more identity. Sound effects can be placed anywhere in a course or even on top of parts like blocks or enemies. These sounds will activate if Mario breaks the block or jumps on an enemy. If they are placed on a particular tile space, they will sound when Mario comes in contact with the area.
They don’t just make sounds either, some also have added visual effects too, like shining lights, sparkles, falling/flying objects, wavy lines on the screen or even stop the background music altogether. Some sounds can also be placed on Mario himself to have a permanent effect throughout the entire course.
Mario Games have always had such iconic music tracks and Super Mario Maker 2 is no different. Every tune has that Koji Kondo greatness that we have all come to know and love. Most course themes have their own background music that is easily recognized from the games that the themes are based on.
There are new course themes, however, that was never in the original games, like the Forest or Desert stages in Super Mario Bros. These stages had new original music composed for them and they blend in so well, you think you have listened to them all your life.
Charles Martinet returns to provide the voice of Mario and Luigi, from the Woohoo’s to the Let’s-a Go’s! While most voice samples sound like they were taken straight from other games, the Story mode does seem to provide new voice samples from the legendary voice actor.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE:
Whether you are playing in 8-bit, retro goodness style of Super Mario Bros. or the more modern HD style of New Super Mario Bros. U, Super Mario Maker 2 looks incredible. Even the 2D style for the Mario 3D World Game style looks amazing and truly does the original 3D platformer justice.
There are some resolution drops between docked and handheld mode but it is hardly a deal-breaker. There are games on the Switch that take a huge hit but Nintendo knows their hardware better than anyone and how to get the most out of it.
That said, the online mode does have some issues when it comes to Multiplayer Co-op and Multiplayer Versus. There is some serious slow down at times to the point where it is near impossible to play. I thought at first that it could be due to internet speed but I never had an issue with online play. Local Wireless Play didn’t have these issues either so if it is an internet problem, it may be due to the internet connection of other players.
Super Mario Maker 2 can really bring out the creative side in some people. The vast number of music levels, auto-levels, puzzles, speed-runs, and themed levels are truly extraordinary. However, along with the good, there is also the very, very bad. Troll levels are also in full force and some courses really could with a bit more thought to make them fun.
The online Multiplayer lag really does hinder the experience of playing with others around the world. The absence of making online rooms with friends is noticed and missed but it is something that the game’s producer Takashi Tezuka did say will be implemented at a later date.
One thing that I enjoyed in the original game that has not returned for the sequel is the Mystery Mushroom costumes. In the Super Mario Bros. theme, you could use amiibo to add costumes that would change Mario into all sorts of characters like Link, Samus, Inkling Girl and so many more.
There were even extra costumes that included the likes of Nekki the fox, Mario Kun and even Dr. Kawashima. This is a bit of a shame they are not included in Super Mario Maker 2 as they gave a whole new feel to course creation. You could incorporate the character costumes into the theme of your courses like Samus Aran in Metroid themed courses or Link in Zelda themed ones.
Another feature that is missed is the lack of the SuperMarioMakerBookmark.com website. This allowed players to search for courses they would like to play when not on their Wii U. While it is true that the Nintendo Switch can be taken with you on the go, the simplicity to check out your friends’ profiles on your smartphones was so much easier.
To be honest, though, the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to Super Mario Maker 2. The power to create your Super Mario Courses and with literally millions of available courses to play, you are guaranteed to have a different experience every time you play.
During my playthrough, I invested plenty of time into playing every possible mode and I am having such a fun time. While some courses can be frustrating, there are so many more that really show the ingenuity and creativity of people.
Of course, as much content as there is in the game, you can’t help but want even more. More themes would be great if they were added as DLC. With the likes of Mario, Luigi, Toad and Toadette playable, an additional character in the form Princess would also certainly be welcome. Even if she is only available in single player.
Super Mario Maker 2 is an incredible game that outshines the original. The infinite possibilities to create and play Mario levels alone make it THE game to own on Nintendo Switch. Now you are playing with power, Super Mario Power.
THE VERDICT: 9/10
*A download key was provided by Nintendo UK for the purposes of this review
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