When the original Super Mario Maker came out on the Wii U in 2015, I called it the "defining game of the console". The whole experience of creating your own 2D scrolling sideways Super Mario levels felt perfect with the bizarre arrangement of the Wii U: you could adjust the levels using the touchscreen tablet in your hands and then play them through your TV. It was an almost perfect combination of software and hardware.
Flash-forward four years, and Super Mario Maker 2 on the Switch has everything you could want from a sequel. There are all kinds of new build options, including ramps, on / off switches and the frightening Angry Sun off SMB3 as well as other very welcome features such as custom win conditions. Nintendo has also developed a surprisingly robust story mode that is great for teaching you about the game, but it also looks like a solid story Super Mario experience.
The sequel improves just about every part of the experience. But it also makes me miss the Wii U and the wonky controller, which was just as perfect for that Mario Maker.
In essence, Super Mario Maker 2 is the same as the previous repeats in the series, including the unfortunately hacked Nintendo 3DS version. It is really more of a tool than a game, one in which you can build something very specific: classic 2D Super Mario levels. You can choose from a range of terrains, power-ups, enemies and gadgets to do what you want, and you can change the visual style of games such as Super Mario World and Super Mario 3D World, each with their own unique elements. These levels can then be uploaded to the internet and shared with other users (provided that the level can actually be beat). The result, at least with the original game, was a huge community of makers who designed a seemingly endless supply of strange, challenging and inventive levels that Shigeru Miyamoto had never thought of.
The Switch version simply adds more – a lot of more. One of the biggest changes is the new, modified, clear conditions that drastically change the types of levels that you can design. Normally you beat each Super Mario level in the same way: to the end without dying. But what if you also had to do other things? You can create a level where you can only complete it if you don't jump or another where you have to carry an object across the finish line.
Of course there is also a large number of new building blocks. You can add a Koopa Troopa car to make something like a side-scrolling shooter or the Cat Mario power-up for wall climbing fun. Building is a very intuitive process: you can easily drag and drop items to your level and immediately play everything you add.
If you are not a skilled level designer, the huge amount of options might be intimidating. But one of the best things about it Super Mario Maker 2 is how it softens you in the world of game design. There is an incredibly useful set of tutorials that not only teach you the basics of how things like vines or "?" Blocks work, but it also contains lessons on more brain topics such as finding inspiration, creating atmosphere, using pen and paper to follow ideas and finding a balance between challenge and honesty. (One of the lessons is called "Seriously, treat the player fairly.")
By far the best way to learn everything is via the new story mode. It is essentially a fully-fledged one Super Mario campaign stuck on the creation tool. It is not attached to each other in the same way as a traditional one Super Mario game, so you won't have to struggle through different thematic worlds. Instead, you play through a series of different levels, under the guise of earning enough coins to rebuild the Mushroom Kingdom. As you build the castle, new levels and paths will open.
The great thing about these levels is that they show you in a very tactile way what you can do with the different tools available to you. The campaign is a great source of inspiration. My favorite level, for example, takes place in a dark cave where you can only see what's around Mario. When you take an unknown path, a screaming horror film-like music prompt is played, making it the first Super Mario level I have ever played with jump scares.
So far so good. Super Mario Maker 2 takes a starting point and builds on this with new tools and a fantastic story mode and self-study. However, the problem is with the hardware. Everything works well enough in portable mode, where the design process is as easy as using the touch screen to drag objects around your level. Some people may prefer a stylus, but I noticed that my finger worked well. But the process changes a lot when the switch is connected in TV mode. Using a controller to create a level is a difficult process; you essentially use the left joystick as a mouse cursor, drag it across the screen and make it difficult to create complex or complex designs. A big source of frustration for me were the menus & # 39; s erratic popping up around the side of the screen.
The obvious solution is to design levels on the tablet and then play them on your television, and it's not a terrible situation. If I hadn't played previous games in the series, it probably wouldn't be such a problem for me. The problem is that there is already a more elegant solution with Wii U. (This may be the only time someone uses the words & # 39; elegant & # 39; and & # 39; Wii U & # 39; in the same sentence.) I really enjoy my time with Super Mario Maker 2, but I still feel that something is missing when half of the experience is much better in portable mode.
This does not mean that I do not recommend the game. Super Mario Maker 2 is an excellent follow-up, and I am incredibly excited to see what the community does with it when it officially starts. I also really enjoy playing through levels along the way, something that was not possible with the Wii U. But although many Wii U games have been migrated to the Switch – including Mario Kart 8, Splatoon, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze – This is the first time I have ever had pain for the awkward Gamepad. It will probably also be the only time.
Super Mario Maker 2 shall launch on the Nintendo Switch on 28 June.