I didn’t play a bunch of the original Super Mario Maker. I completed Nintendo’s created levels and dabbled with the course creator, but never spent anywhere near as much time as it deserved. This was due to the non portable nature of the Nintendo Wii U, but thankfully that’s fixed with the Nintendo Switch, so I was excited for Super Mario Maker 2 as soon as it was announced.
I got to play through several levels of Story Mode, play through the Course Maker (in both portable and TV mode) and also dabble with Corse Wold (both co-op and competitive levels). I’ll touch on it more a bit later, but the star of the show is absolutely new competitive and co-op multiplayer modes, which is quite literally some of the best platforming I’ve ever experienced.
Whilst I can’t talk a lot about Super Mario Maker 2’s story mode (because I played a few levels and it’s clear that Nintendo doesn’t want to talk too much about it), the campaign has you rebuilding Princess Peach’s castle. You do this by completing levels (which are designed to teach you the core functionalities of Super Mario Maker 2’s tools) that are given to you by Taskmaster Toad and then using the coins that are received by completing levels to Chief Toadette. You’ll then choose which section of the castle to rebuild (depending on how any coins you have) and Builder Toads will then get to work. I’m keen to explore more of the story mode, and it’s very clear that there will be a tonne of little areas to explore throughout the castle.
In the few levels that I played, one was a fairly standard level called ‘A Downhill Battle’ which had me working my way through a bunch of Goombas on slopes (slopes are brand new to this game, and obviously make a big difference) which was set in the New Super Mario Bros U theme, the second was called ‘On/Off Switch Research Expedition’ which was set in the OG Mario Bros theme and used On/Off switches in order to puzzle solve and the third was called ‘Hello 3D World’ and introduced me to the mechanics of the Super Mario 3D World game style including Cat Mario (who is still as adorable as ever).
When it comes to using a blank canvas in a game like this, I’m fairly useless at coming up with the most creative concepts, but Super Mario Maker worked so well because there’s so many well known obstacles and enemies that you instinctively know will work well in certain areas. It’s obviously more of the same in Super Mario Maker 2, but there’s way more obstacles, themes and quirks for you to play with.
In handheld mode, you can use the touch screen to place items and quickly play through the levels. It works really well and you can use multiple touch to do things like pinch to zoom and make items bigger. I did find that the screen was a little bit small for the most intricate of course creating. Thankfully, Nintendo has also worked some pretty solid magic in order to make building using buttons feel pretty natural. It obviously does take a little more getting used to, but the luxury of having the big screen is almost a necessity.
We’ve covered all of the new tools in Super Mario Maker 2, but seeing them all in front of you is a completely different story. Being able to add favourites (that have been underused in recent games) such as the angry sun just let you know that you’re in for a good time. There’s also a car which I got to dabble with an honestly adds to the insanity ten-fold. I can’t wait to see how levels play out with that.
Obviously, having Super Mario 3D World as a style completely changes things up. If you go from one of the other styles to Super Mario 3D World, you’ll need to start from scratch, which might annoy people, but given how different it is, it’s completely understandable. I can quickly see this becoming a new favourite once people get their hands on the game.
You can also change how quickly levels scroll, or how quickly water or lava rises through out levels, which obviously makes a pretty big deal in terms of placement of platforms. When you’ve got lava rising up and down (which I experienced), its make you completely rethink your timing.
ONLINE (COURSE WORLD)
Something I wasn’t expecting to get to go hands on with is the online portion of the game. I got to play through a handful of levels that were set within Course World (the online portion of the game) but the stand out was competitive multiplayer. It’s also worth confirming that these levels were being played with a Nintendo rep setting by my side, so you definitely can download and play these levels with a friend beside you (providing you’ve got a Nintendo Switch online subscription).
In these competitive levels, your task is to be the first one to get to the end of the level. If the other play dies, he will enter a bubble, and you’ll need to try to avoid him, otherwise he’ll return to the level. In each of these levels, it was literally a tight race to the finish and absolutely heart stopping. I always knew that Mario would work well in a multiplayer environment, but it works way better here, given the frantic nature of Super Mario Maker 2’s array of tools.
Co-op multiplayer is a similar experience. You’re all working together to reach the goal, but it’s just as frantic, and rather than avoiding players that have been taken out (and have taken the form of bubbles), you’ll want to wait for them to come to you to bring them back into the level before proceeding).
Finding courses seems like it’ll be easier than ever, with you being able to sort levels by tags, and easily identify whether they are to be played solo, co-op or competitively. It seemed really easy to navigate and ranking levels or leaving comments looked like it’d be a breeze too.
I only had a brief hour with Super Mario Maker 2 and it’s easily my most anticipated game of the next few months (if not the entire year). There’s so much that I haven’t touched on in terms of tools and other little details, but it’s obvious that Super Mario Maker 2 is going to be one that every Nintendo Switch owner will want to own. Even if it’s just for playing the 100+ levels in story mode and dabbling in the online levels, it’s set to be one of the best Mario games of all time.