Despite the name, “Super Mario Maker 2” is really the third game in the series. Previously appearing on the much-maligned Wii U and in compact form on the 3DS, the series never quite reached the heights it deserves.
This release, the first on the Switch system, promises to rectify that.
Designed specifically for aspiring game designers, “Mario Maker” features a powerful set of design tools allowing players to make their own 3D “Mario” levels. Everything you have seen in the series’ best installments — “Super Mario Bros.,” “Super Mario Bros. 3,” “Super Mario World,” “New Super Mario Bros. U” and “Super Mario 3D World” — as well as a number of interesting new items are available to creators for their best ideas.
Choose your setting, your obstacles, bricks, power-ups, enemies, secrets — literally everything you’ve seen in a “Mario” game — and place them around your level. The only limits are the length of the level and your own imagination.
Do you want to start in the clouds, climb up a vine, drop down a pipe, end up underwater and emerge into a boss fight? Yep, I did that.
The creation system is intuitive and easy to use. Just choose what you want to place and drag it into place on the screen. Similarly, you can drag platforms and terrain to attain the desired length.
Each step along the way, you can jump into play mode to check your design to make sure things play as you imagined. While it’s possible to create unbeatable levels, you won’t be able to share something you can’t finish. So make them as tough as you want, as long as you’re good enough yourself.
Some objects, particularly power-ups, are only available when using certain game styles. You can’t endow 8-bit Mario with the catsuit from “Super Mario 3D World,” but you can sometimes drop an 8-bit version of an enemy in the level that didn’t appear in the original game. Experimenting with all the objects is part of the fun.Once you have polished your vision to a fine sheen, you can upload it for people around the world to enjoy.Here is where “Super Mario Maker 2” truly shines.
I’m no level designer. It’s fun to play around, but my creations never end up particularly challenging or even that clever. But it doesn’t matter. Within about four days of the game’s launch, users around the world uploaded more than 2 million levels, enough for about 20,000 full-fledged “Mario” games. Enough to play new levels for the rest of your life.
And they keep coming.
Fortunately, there’s a nice, robust rating system in place so you can choose to play only the levels likely to live up to your lofty expectations.
One flaw in the game is that each level stands on its own, rather than being part of a cohesive whole. That doesn’t stop them from being fun, though, and surprisingly, it is possible to create a story mode that works with the random levels.
In fact, the game comes with more than 100 pre-made levels organized into a story mode. You are helping the Toads earn money to construct a new castle for Princess Peach. You do this by completing “jobs” that are really just levels in disguise.
The more difficult the level, the more coins you’ll receive for completing it, and that’s on top of the coins you’ll collect within each level.
The story mode alone has enough content to justify a purchase, and that’s without the never-ending stream of new levels from creators everywhere. It’s truly an astounding, value-packed package.
“Super Mario Maker 2” is literally an endless source of fun as the community of creators offers an endless source of new content. And if you happen to be one of those creative types, it offers the most robust set of tools available in a creation game, bar none.
Either way, “Super Mario Maker 2” celebrates nearly 35 years of 2D “Mario” games and proves there are enough ideas left for several more lifetimes.
‘Super Mario Maker 2’
Who it’s for: Anyone who loves Mario, whether they want to create levels or not