Saturday, July 13, 2019

Mario Maker 2 Review

            SuperMario Maker is a series of games that seemingly provide endless fun and engagement to fans of the Super Mario franchise. With the comparatively miserable performance in terms installs base of the WiiU, Mario Maker’s sequel is a very welcome addition to the Switch’s library, enabling thousands of new players to discover the joys of level design, new challenges and ways to play one of the most enduring franchises in the world. Now, Nintendo released Super Mario Maker 2 introducing new mechanics and seemingly endless possibilities to its level designing antics. Two state blocks, slopes, claws, snake blocks, autoscrolling, and even clear conditions just to name a few. This powerful toolset allows players and budding level designers from all over the world to create, play and share new Mario levels rightfully earning the title of “The Mario game to end all Mario games”. This review will take a look at Mario Maker 2’s Story Mode, Level Builder, an online mode, dubbed “Course World”. Without further ado, let's get right into the former.

Story Mode

Mario and various Toads of the Mushroom Kingdom have been hard at work to build a castle for Princess Peach. The story begins just as they completed the arduous project when suddenly the Undo-Dog pounced on a stray reset rocket, deleting their progress prompting Mario and the Toads to start over. Here your adventure of collecting coins by playing through levels begins as you slowly but surely complete the castle. Various characters will set you up with challenges which range from lighthearted fun to soul-crushingly difficult. Mario Maker 2’s story mode is a good place to start off your journey as a budding level designer. Since its featured levels are designed by Nintendo which showcases what is possible in Mario Maker and the power of its new tools available in the Builder Mode. The new themes, clear conditions, auto-scrolling and so much more are highlighted and well-implemented providing hours of new and fun ways to play Mario. What better way to learn how to make a level than to learn from those that do it for a living. Although it sadly is not possible to actually edit a level from the Story Mode, allowing a peek behind the curtain and see how it works, it still provides ample inspiration to get you started. Once you feel confident enough and have been able to consistently clear levels it is time to tackle the meat of the game.

Builder Mode

Builder mode features a wide breadth of tools aptly named “parts” that let you build all sorts of contraptions, traps, challenges, and art. Building a level is as easy as selecting a part, placing it in the level, and then playtesting your creation at the press of a button. The layout in TV mode might seem a bit counter-intuitive at first but once you get used to it the navigation of it becomes second nature. At the top, you have your recently selected parts, a search wheel, and a switch for sound effects. On the left, you have your styles and themes, auto-scrolling options, level timer settings, clear conditions, co-op the building, and player trails. On the bottom, there is a level scroll bar and a switch for the sub-area. On the right, you have the reset rocket, undo-dog, eraser, save options, and the main menu. All of these options can be accessed with either the D-Pad or a button shortcut in TV mode and in handheld, the Switch’s touch screen can be utilized to simply select and draw with your fingers (In this video only footage of TV mode will be used). The menu navigation in TV mode is a bit cumbersome but makes sense once you become accustomed to it. Even if the navigation is clunky you can always unlock the switch and use the touchscreen. A simple way to characterize Builder mode would be to call it “A process of trial and error”. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t can be an arduous process, making you replay levels over and over as you refamiliarize yourself with your own creation, one play at a time. Once you find something that works you move on to the next section until you have completed your magnum opus. In order to upload the course to the course world, the creator has to be able to beat his own level without using any checkpoints, and once more from each checkpoint as a way to ensure the level is beatable. One is thus limited by one’s own skill, however, practicing and testing their level makes it appear a lot easier than it actually is. It is always good practice to have a few friends try the level before it is uploaded. And thus it is time to talk about Course World.

Course World

Course world is the online hub for creators and players in Mario Maker 2. Here, all the wonderful creations and various torture devices disguised as levels can be played and uploaded. It's always astounding to see the wide variety and clever ingenuity of builders from around the world. Some levels brought me to the brink of insanity with its difficulty, some were a joyous romp, and some just made you appreciate the art. Course World allows you to play single courses sorted by various categories such as “New Courses” “Popular” and “Hot”, play the endless challenge or the new versus mode featuring levels from course world. The addition of Co-Op adds new spice and sometimes difficulty to a level. Despite the game being out for a very short time, there is certainly no shortage of levels and talented designers to be found. A few things stand out though. In order to play a friends level directly a nine-digit level code is required to find it. The same is true for someone’s maker profile. This system is a bit antiquated as keyword searches aren’t too uncommon in these types of games and it would have been a sensible addition to an otherwise excellent experience. A tag filtering search in the “Detailed Search” tab isn’t powerful enough to look for one exact level. Furthermore, in order to truly completely enjoy Course World’s offerings, a Nintendo Online Membership is a must. 20$ a year might not seem like much and to the most dedicated Nintendo fan this is a very fair compromise, however, for some this premium fee on top of a 60$ game might not be something casual players are willing to pay.


In conclusion, SuperMario Maker 2 is an excellent addition to the Switch’s library, a must-have for any Mario fan. It provides endless challenges and relaxing casual levels. It allows your creativity to be the limit on what you can build with the powerful tools available to you. The story mode is a fleshed-out enjoyable experience and provides ample challenges to be mastered and inspired by. Course world may be unfriendly to those looking for specific levels but the absolute treasure trove of levels to be found there completely outweighs this fact. Simply put, Mario Maker 2 is the ultimate Mario game in the Switches library to date, a must-play and create.


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