Back in the day, before hundreds of games came out every week and most of them were available for pennies on the dollar thanks to sales, we had to walk uphill both ways in the snow to find things to play. Between that and the classic nature of many of yesteryear’s hits, it was popular to use romhacking to modify games and make something new. One of the most popular titles for this was the SNES classic Super Mario World, so it’s no surprise that (years later, as is their tendency) Nintendo picked up on the make-your-own-Mario trend and created Super Mario Maker.
Full-featured, colorful, and more intuitive than you might think, Super Mario Maker offered would-be Miyamotos the chance to create their own Super Mario adventures and share them with the world. Unfortunately, it was released on the doomed Wii U. Fortunately, Super Mario Maker 2 is here, offering several additions and revamps for all your platform designing needs. And it’s on the Switch so it’s probably not going anywhere.
There’s a sorta-kinda plot in Mario Maker 2’s single-player mode, but that entire experience is more of a means of providing inspiration for your own levels. The heart and soul of the game lies in creating your own courses and sending them out for the world to enjoy, as well as playing courses others have made. As someone with all the level design talent of a shovelware indie developer on Steam, I tend to prefer playing courses rather than creating them, so it’s fortunate that there’s plenty of options on that front as well.
New creation options are good for everyone, so let’s talk a little about those! First and foremost among them is the ON/OFF Switch, allowing for various toggle-based nonsense that seemingly everyone loves to throw into their courses. Angled surfaces exist now as well, allowing for courses that are a little closer to classic Super Mario World fare. New enemies, powerups and such abound as well, and it’s also possible to create Super Mario 3D World courses that play somewhat like a 2D version of the courses from that game. There’s enough to solidify this as a full-fledged sequel rather than just Mario Maker On Switch.
What if you’re like me and you don’t have the first thing about course design, though? Not to worry! There’s an entire set of tutorials featuring a talking pigeon to teach you how to Make some Mario. These merit mention in and of themselves because they’re surprisingly well-made and interesting; later entries talk about more elaborate game design concepts and are very much worth reading.
Of course, that still doesn’t make me any good at making courses. How about playing them? Mario Maker 2 has the aforementioned story mode, which is nice, but the original game’s Endless mode is also available, you can go through Course World to find high-rated courses and as expected you can play courses directly via codes. You can even play them in multiplayer, though pitting two people against the collective level design prowess of the Internet isn’t necessarily better than going it solo.
This is Mario, so look and feel are pretty much exactly what you’d expect. Nintendo doesn’t play around with their boy, after all. Mario Maker 2 benefits greatly from the move to Switch, at least on those tilesets where it’s relevant; Super Mario Bros. isn’t going to look much better than it did back in the 80s, after all. Both handheld and TV play work great as well, and it’s particularly worth mentioning that level design is easy as pie if you play using the touchscreen in handheld mode.
Super Mario Maker 2 doesn’t give you everything you need to make the greatest Mario game ever created, however. You still can’t organize courses into worlds, after all, and you’re still dealing with the fact that most people just aren’t able to make courses that are worth playing. If what you want is content, though, and love you some classic Mario platforming, then Mario Maker 2’s got your number. You’re never going to run out of courses to play, after all, and even if they’re not always great, there’s always going to be more, more, more. Momma mia!