Wa-hoo! The Official Kaizo Builder is back, letting players make all new levels on the Switch -But does Mario still make it, or does this sequel not meet the building code?
Super Mario Maker 2 has a lot to live up to, after all – The original 2015 title took full advantage of the Wii U and 3DS to put creative course-making in the palm of our hands, and simply making courses isn’t enough for a fully-fledged sequel. Thankfully, Nintendo has indeed expanded upon the original in some really nice and innovative ways.
Upon booting the game, you’ll be met with an ‘example’ level you can play through, as well as your main options: Make or Play.
Make will, of course, dump you straight into the Course Maker, with the example level from the title screen serving as an editable template. But we’ll get back to course creation later: Play has more to it than you may have been expecting.
That’s right – This time around, Mario Maker comes with a story mode (And I don’t mean that generic ‘save da Princess’ challenge mode).
The plot boils down to this: various Toads, and Mario of course, have just finished building Peach yet another castle. Everyone’s pleased with the work, but the crew realises a Reset Rocket button is laying out and about – and who should ‘accidentally’ come press it, but Undodog?
With the castle now no more, and the remaining budget being insufficient to construct a new one, the crew suggests Mario makes money by taking on a series of odd-jobs. The Taskmaster tells Mario that plenty of people anonymously ask for help with something, and post a reward for doing it – And what do you know, all these odd jobs just happen to involve completing levels.
It’s not the grandest plot, but it serves its purpose, and gives players something to work towards. Additionally, by making coins have value, it makes these mainstays more than a token collectable – Any coins gained, be it as rewards or collected in levels, can be used to help upgrade the castle. Neat!
The Story Mode consists entirely of developer made levels, and there’s around 100 of them, give or take some bonus levels given by side characters. And there’s quite a few of those – Expect appearances from everyone in the Maker mode here, even the tutorial pigeons.
The levels themselves are nice, and show off various gimmicks – Tthere’s one or two annoying stages *cough*SummerShootout*cough*, but most range from simple to moderately challenging. Which might be good in some ways – some Course Maker objects are unfortunately locked behind story progression, so it won’t take that long to get them at least.
Inexperienced Mario players are given an optional crutch, too – After two deaths, Luigi will offer assist parts for you to place in the level to make it easier. Alternatively, losing all your lives will have him offer to just do it for you – Good if you want to unlock all those items from the safety of Super Weenie Hut Junior’s.
Course World mostly offers you the same experience as Super Mario Maker.
There’s the online Course browser, through which you can find and download various community courses – And arguably the heart of the game’s experience. You can look through trending, over-all popular, or newly submitted courses, or search for courses by setting the desired Game Style, Theme, Difficulty, Clear Ratio, and tags to name a few.
When you see a level you like the look of, you can play it online (The only mode able to leave comments, likes and see where people died), or download it for later play. You’ll also be able to access the creator’s profile from here, showing their levels, levels they’ve liked, and their own clear times. As well as their Avatar.
Avatars this time around are still Mii’s, but they’ve been expanded upon – You can dress your Mii in a variety of headwear, tops, bottoms and accessories that can be unlocked through Course World and Story Mode. Though you only start with one or two items of each, you’ll be quickly unlocking a variety of surprisingly trendy looking outfits to choose some. Don’t worry though – There’s still some amazingly garbage choices available to you, should you want that.
The previous Challenge modes (eg. 100 Mario Mode) have been streamlined into one general, Endless Challenge mode. A little disappointing if you feel like taking on a 15-level quickie or the like, but there’s nothing stopping you from doing that manually I suppose. The Endless Challenge modes come in Easy, Normal, Expert, and Super Expert, using community levels that may (Or may not, realistically) meet those requirements. There’s also Leaderboards for these, if you’re the competitive type.
This brings us to the final mode in Course World, and definitely one of the new title’s most anticipated: Multiplayer!
Multiplayer comes in many forms in Super Mario Maker 2. From the hilariously shit co-op creation mode in the Course Maker (Oh yay, one person picks stuff, the other PLACES it), to co-op and versus.
Co-op and Versus can be on the same system, via local connections if every player has their own Switch, or Global online. That sounds amazing at first – Until you realise that Global online doesn’t mean ‘with friends’ so much as ‘with whoever they can find’. Nintendo has addressed this rather stupid omission by deciding to add that ability in a future update, but until that time, you’re still stuck with whoever. And despite the immense popularity of the title, it seems the game sometimes has issues finding randoms. Considering tales of lag and dropping, I’m going to chalk this down to server issues – something they’ll hopefully fix soon enough.
But more local Multiplayer is still quite fun! Players on one console will share a screen, whilst multiple console users will be more free to travel a level at will. Should a player die in co-op, it doesn’t really matter – They’ll come back in one of those weird Super Mario World 3D bubbles, ready to join as soon as you pop them. This can cause some rare issues though – the foundation of the game wasn’t exactly built for multiplayer, so you can trigger some strange situations, like getting stuck inside blocks or that like. But I would expect those issues to be patched in time, so don’t consider them more than something silly to laugh at for the moment.
Coursebot is where all your previously downloaded and created levels are stored. You can upload a total of 32 courses from it, and download at least that many at a time (The limit for downloaded course isn’t displayed, unfortunately).
From either screen you can play the created levels on your console at any time, and it’s also the quickest and easiest way to start up local multiplayer on the same console (Via a little tab that appears at the side of levels here).
If you’re not playing other people’s levels, you are, of course, making your own.
The Course Maker does not hold your hand at all, and provides you (Almost) every tool in the game right off the bat – No more waiting for nonsense deliveries! If you’re new, the Pigeon icon on the + Menu will guide you to Yamamura’s Dojo, where the birds and a woman named Nina will guide you through anything from basics to how you can control Mario himself to do some unexpected things. The tutorials are, from my brief look, light-hearted and a fun way to learn some neat tricks.
Course Maker in Super Mario Maker 2 is bigger and better than ever. Whilst we have, sadly, lost some content (RIP Amiibo costumes), everything is still here for the most part, with additional terrains, themes, game types, enemies, and objects to utilise.
There are five game styles to choose from (With more speculated as DLC): Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, New Super Mario Bros. U, and the new theme, Super Mario 3D World (The catsuit one).
Each of these themes have their own graphical styles, and some unique gimmicks – the Cat Suit is only available in Super Mario 3D World, for example – but a lot of items do translate between them. Themes are universal: You can have any level look like a Plain, a Ghost House, a Snowy Field, etc. Some of these levels come with water or lava whose levels you can adjust as well.
You can also determine scroll speed, what direction that scroll is in (and if that direction shifts), the time limit, and even clear conditions – a welcome addition that allows creators to force victi – er, players, to do a great number of silly or challenging tasks in order to clear the stage. There’s also new items – like the Snake Block – and power-ups, like the SuperBall Mario Flower. Not to mention new terrain – Slopes, complete with sliding, make a debut in this sequel.
Speaking of terrain, you can now create multiple sub-areas in a map, and can create larger levels as well. New enemies, like Bullies, Ants and the Angry Sun, allow for more variety on that front, too.
My only gripe with this mode is the UI; it’s a little cluttered, and it can feel intimidating to use at times. Some players of the first title might also waste time shaking items about to try and change them, when the new method is clicking on the item and accessing a menu for it instead. But aside from that? This mode is a beefier version of what we got last time, with a lot more possibilities available.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics are, for the most part, reused from Super Mario Maker, or the titles they’re emulating. New assets though (eg. Toadette, translated themes) do look amazing though, and have been handled carefully to ensure they match the style of the game they’re trying to fit in with.
I do dislike how the pixel styles sometimes have a drop-shadow on sprites, depending on the theme – It strikes me as a weird, and largely pointless change.
Sound-wise, you have the returning sound effects and tracks, with some additional themes from throughout Mario’s franchise. There’s also some re-scored versions of different theme’s music for different game versions.
Super Mario Maker 2 more than justifies its existence, being a true sequel over a glorified port. Although there are some unfortunate choices with it (eg. the removal of Amiibo costumes, the Online situation right now), there’s simply too much going for this game to ignore. Expanded creation tools, a story mode, and fantastic local co-op make this a must-have for anyone with a Switch, really. Hours of fun await!
Grab a copy of Respawning UK’s very own Super Mario Maker 2 level, Bug Button Blast! The level is a moderately challenging romp through a magic forest at midnight! The level’s ID is: