A spectacular part of the series and a splendid introduction into the series at the same time, Super Mario Maker 2 offers tons of fun as players build Mario courses as the online community endeavors to milk each and every ounce of capability out of Nintendo’s Mushroom Kingdom.
• Lots of new content
• Story Mode functions as fun tutorial
• Excellent online features
• Intuitive interface
• The handheld mode also forces the user to resort to touchscreen controls
• Stylus needed for accuracy
• Limited in contrast to other DIY games
• Review Price: £39.99
• Developer: Nintendo EPD
• Genre: Game creation
• Release date: June 28, 2019
• Platforms: Nintendo Switch
If you are planning to venture into the realm of game design or simply prefer games designed for 2D platforms, Super Mario Maker 2 on Switch turns out to be precisely what the doctor ordered.Nintendo has handed over the keys to the Mushroom kingdom, Super Mario Maker 2 lets you get your hands on every single enemy, item, platform and gadget that has been part of this brilliant franchise for the last three decades. This enables you tweak around with almost an unprecedented combinations of probabilities.
It goes without saying that this is by no means the first entrant into the build your own Super Mario series as the original Super Mario Maker was released way back in 2015 on Wii U and a port arriving on the 3DS in 2016. However, as majority of the people did not opt to purchase the below-par console, and the crucial online features were not a part of the portable version, the Nintendo Switch appears to be the beginning point for numerous aspiring Mario makers.
Those who have had their hands on the previous parts of the franchise will not be left disappointed. This is not an older version in the garb of a sequel; a novel story mode, lots of fresh tools and the introduction of the Super Mario 3D World game style transform Super Mario Maker 2 into a wonderful version.As soon as Super Mario Maker 2 is started, you make your way into the Course Maker mode. All the tools are located at the edge of the screen with the assets including items, enemies, consoles etc. present at the top, the course’s timeline placed at the bottom and plenty of features stacked on the left with the inclusion of timer, course theme and game style.
The availability of such a wide array of features notwithstanding, the screen never seems to be crowded. All the features are easily accessible, with a mere press on the touchscreen needed in place of having to scour through complicated menus. Assets are stored in eleven separate selection wheels but the favorites can be pinned to the top bar for a hassle-free gameplay.The touchscreen has to be used despite the Switch being in handheld mode which is a bit of a turn off. I am not biased against touchscreen controls – they are pretty seamless – but I prefer the high precision of the Joy Con’s analog sticks when the Switch is docked, in contrast to my horrible, wet fingers. You can always resort to using a stylus supported by Switch but that has to be purchased separately. A stylus is included in special editions which are pretty reasonably priced.
You first have to opt the game style with the four returning options including Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros U. Having said that, you can switch between these game styles at any point in time, so your decision does not hold any semblance of finality. The transition between stages and their inhabitants, between pixel art and animated models is a piece of cake. Each game style is backed up by its fantastic soundtracks that will make you go wandering into memory lanes of the past.This being a sequel, lets you access the brand new game style called as Super Mario 3D World. The textures have been neatly designed with access to more assets and opponents and Mario is bestowed with additional skills including jumping off the walls and forward drum barrel rolls. The catch associated to all these massive additions is that one cannot transfer them into another style.
The online community seems to have taken a liking to the Super Mario 3D World. So, the players can access Meowser (Bowser in the shape of cat) for complicated boss battles, the Koopa troopa Car for fun speed trials and the Super Bell item to adorn Mario with cat-like powers suitable for vertical level designs.The selection of the Course Theme is the next decision that you have to make. These are the backgrounds that immediately add a new vibe to the stage owing to the nostalgia-inducing soundtracks. You can choose from 10 course themes including the classic Ground stage, the scary Ghost House and the spectacular Castle. The seasoned pros of Mario Maker will also be excited to find that there are four new stages including Sky, Forest, Desert and Snow.
In addition to the overall environment, some themes also have particular specialties. For instance, the Forest has water that can be configured to rise and fall throughout the course of the level, which also has implications on Mario’s movement and cause certain objects to float.When the Underground theme is configured to night mode, the stage is flipped so Mario appears to be standing upside down. I have already come across some mind-boggling stages developed by players that intelligently employ this feature, giving an impression that the player may toy with gravity to overpower puzzles.
Conditions can also be configured for your level, which have to be completed before the player jumps on the flagpole and clears the course. These conditions range from “Reaching the goal without undergoing damaged” to “Collect 200 coins” and can be immensely handy for those who would prefer to create mini game stages instead of a conventional side scrolling console game. However, you are restricted to one condition per stage but I concur with Nintendo as addition of more conditions can make things a bit too complicated.I really have been impressed by all these novel features which tend to enhance the number of game changing probabilities. However, there is not as much creative liberty you get as that associated with LittleBigPlanet.
You cannot create NPCs with speech bubbles or your own opponents or gizmos from the ground up. So you will have to use only the assets available in the library. This tends to keep things simple which was designated as a priority by Nintendo.Many stage building possibilities are also kept from getting all consuming thanks to the new Story Mode. A certain length of the stages serves as a mini tutorial, emphasizing on a certain item or game mechanic so players can fathom the functioning of each gizmo while getting inspiration to reimagine a lot of stuff.However, as Nintendo bids to encourage innovation in contrast to its standard Super Mario stages, those found in Super Mario Maker 2 are quite short and do not turn out to be overwhelming.
Context is also provided to all these quests as Mario endeavors to collect coins in large quantities to provide money for repairs for Princess Peach’s castle after it has been demolished by a mischievous dog. The story here is quite simple but it does have a charm of its own thanks to all those cute characters involved.
Story mode is certainly not the primary center of attention of Super Mario Maker 2. It is the online community that is at the heart of it all. You can upload your stages online via Course World and also view and play levels developed by makers from all over the world.
The interface for Course World is pleasant and intuitive. All the levels are categorized into popular, trending and new tabs. The user also gets access to the Detailed Search option which can filter levels by Game Style, Course Theme, complexity, tags and even region. This can be exceptionally handy for those looking out for a specific level design as the server becomes overloaded. Levels can also be downloaded to Switch so you can play community-created courses offline as and when required; thereby enabling you to take full advantage of Switch’s portable potential.
While hovering over a stage, you get detailed information such as upvotes, clear rate and short description provided by the developers. Those who have played the stages can leave comments and tags while the leaders are also displayed.
This kind of incentivizes the whole thing for the speed runners. It is such in-depth information that tends to bring the online community to life and I am really looking forward to see how it evolves with time.
This detailed information, in addition to being handy for choosing the level to play, also tends to garner precious feedback for the course created by you. I was able to get only 5.47% clear percentage out of 73 attempts when I uploaded my first Super Mario stage. I was able to go into my level and view the Failure Points which underscore the most common locations of casualties.
With such extensive information available, I was able to fine tune the level to make it more entertaining and easily accessible. I gained a lot of knowledge through this process and indubitably enhanced my novice game creation prowess.The creators are awarded with maker points when other players rate and leave comments on your stage too. These points can be spent on customizing your avatar with apparel and accessories. These avatars are Miis but it is quite entertaining to clad them in a Bowser Jr. hat or Banzai T-shirt and then showcase them in your online profile with pride.
Endless challenge is yet another remarkable feature in Super Mario Maker 2. The user chooses a difficulty level ranging from Easy to Super Expert and then play stages created by the online community consecutively until they run out of their lives. At the moment, there are a limited number of players online so I encountered a few duplicate stages in my 26 game streak but I am sure this will not be an issue as more and more people join in.There are multiplayer options as well. In Multiplayer Co-op, you can collaborate with up to three random online players to try and complete a stage. Even if one person manages to cross the finish line, all the team members are considered winners.
However, such collaborative gameplay is discouraged when it comes to the Multiplayer Versus mode that involves a race through the Mushroom Kingdom. Sadly, I have not been able to test these online multiplayer features owing to the limited number of active players on the server. As the game is launched officially, we plan to test this feature out extensively.I played Super Mario Maker 2 multiplayer with local players but each player is required to have their own Nintendo Switch console, game and Switch Online Subscription. The connection process is seamlessly easy, as one player creates a room and other three players jump right into it. Once the difficulty level has been selected, you arrive at a community created course for a race to the flag, and as soon as this competition comes to an end, you are thrown into another race on a different stage.
It was extremely exciting and dramatic to race along with your friends through the weird Mushroom Kingdom stages. As you race against your opponents, even a Goomba collision or spike pitfall can turn out to be devastating to your shot at the bigger prize at stake. Unfortunately, we did not come across any co-op stages so I am of the view that perhaps you can only play versus mode with local friends. It is also quite frustrating as the players cannot choose between characters – Mario, Luigi, Toad and Toadette – so there is not much room if you are burdened with the green plumber.
If your friends take a fancy to creating platformers instead of playing them, you can also invite your friend to help you build your Super Mario courses in the Course Maker mode. You will not be allowed to use the touch screen for reasons quite evident, so you will both have to use one Joy-Con each which is ugliest control methods of all. To ensure that things do not get excessively messy, access of the second player is limited to the tool bars located at the borders but they can still choose assets, drop them into the course and delete them as and when needed.The co-op course creation mode is another interesting feature but it is tad too messy and ordinary to be really useful for seasoned professionals. I believe that this mode is a bit more suitable for kids playing alongwith adults.
This ensures that kids are not hampered by the complicated stuff and get enough room to apply their innovative skills – even if it means introducing tons of Bowsers, Bonzai Bills and Piranha plants onto the course. Super Mario Maker 2 is all about playing around with the drag and drop stuff.
In addition to being a simple port for Switch, Nintendo has ensured that Super Mario Maker 2 has lots of new content and features integrated into it. The new course themes, items and power ups result in a preposterously long range of combinations that would not be possible without this sequel and should definitely lure the previous players of Super Mario franchise.
Things can get messier with the stage creation sans stylus on the Switch and the extent of innovation that one can apply into the game is restricted in contrast to other titles such as LittleBigPlanet. However, this is still the best Mario Maker till date and a tremendous entry point into the series largely due to the new story mode.
The way how the online community capitalizes onto the features of this game will dictate the extent of success awaiting for it. Nintendo has certainly provided all the essentials for this sequel to make it real big!