Creation of a video game is something that we often take for granted. The ability to craft a level that can maximize the balance of fun, challenge, and originality is a process that can not be underestimated. Super Mario Maker 2 puts you into the driver’s seat, allowing you a view into what level design is like.
From the very first action, you are presented with multiple choices. You have 5 distinct games to base the engine off of, be it the classic NES Super Mario Bros, the distinct Super Mario Bros 3, the polished and refined Super Mario World, or even the modern New Super Mario Bros U. Newly added into this game is the Super Mario 3D world style, which changes the game drastically. These styles are all far more than simple palette swaps – each style brings its own interesting physics that set it apart be it the simplicity of Super Mario Bros or the wall jumping air spinning action of the newer games. The 3D world style, however, sets itself apart with whole new course parts, enemies and maneuvers that are exclusive to that style.
Beyond the game style, you have 10 distinct themes for your course, ranging from peaceful grasslands to dangerous lava-filled castles. If that wasn’t enough, each theme also has a night-time version. In addition to looking visually different, these night-time themes also modify the gameplay, with odd effects like upside-down caverns and poisonous water. This already gives us 100 different permutations on what a stage can look like before even placing down a single course part.
Unfortunately there is no way to use the night-time themes without the gameplay changes, which is a shame. The course parts also do not disappoint, carrying most of the parts from the original while adding its own brand new course parts. There are many new additions that change the gameplay to an insane degree, be it the Snake Block, On-Off Switch, or the Twister, they all provide unique tools that you could build a full game around.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a Mario game without the signature gameplay. The game plays like a charm, feeling just like whichever of the styles it is emulating. There is also a story mode in the game. The plot is bare bones – Peach’s castle gets destroyed by Undodog accidentally activating a Reset Rocket, but it is just a means to the end of giving you a massive 100 Nintendo made courses to play and enjoy. These courses vary wildly in difficulty and length, but they were a joy to play through, with each one bringing new ideas to the table. By beating these “Jobs”, you collect coins which can be used to gradually rebuild the castle.
Nintendo made levels aren’t all you have to play – by the day, countless levels are being uploaded by real players. The quality of these ranges from beautiful heavily focused masterpieces to absolutely abysmal, but that is to be expected with user-created content. You can play these levels on their own through Course World, a robust level filtering system, or you can try your luck at the Endless Challenge and see what levels happen to appear.
Playing with friends is a centerpiece of Nintendo and the Switch’s philosophy, and when you’re playing locally Mario Maker 2 is excellent. It’s fun both to create and play levels with your friends. Unfortunately, things fall apart a bit when you go online. Be it co-op or versus, lag is a common occurrence. And this isn’t average lag – this is severe. Multiplayer more often than not felt like a slog through a sea of molasses. Nearly half of my online games had lag to the point where I simply didn’t want to play. The lag sours what could have been a wonderful experience. Additionally, at the moment there is no way to play with friends online, a feature Nintendo has said they will add but have not as of yet.
Mario Maker 2 is easily one of the best games on the switch. It has an essentially infinite amount of content that could be played forever. As time passes players will only create more impressive courses, and I for one can’t wait to see what comes. The online multiplayer is less than desirable, but outside of that the game is incredible and easily worth buying.