Super Mario Maker 2 Game Review | Switch - gamegame

Mario Maker was uniquely magical.
It paired an inventive idea--making your own Mario--with a powerful and wonderfully simple
And wrapped it all up in a delightfully charming and bizarre package.
It basically poured an entire Mario toy box onto your lap and asked you to go nuts.
Want to stack a Bullet Bill on top of a Monty Mole...with wings?
Sure, why not.
What happens if you give a Mushroom to a Wiggler...and place him underwater?
Only one way to find out!
The possibilities seemed bound only by your imagination--and the 100 enemy limit.
I became obsessed, sinking over 800 hours into all kinds of random creations, whether
it was remaking Arcade Classics like Frogger, or basing levels on classic Disney rides,
or exploring Bowser’s, uhh, throne room.
I even have the dubious distinction of creating the level that’s killed more Marios than
any other.
Umm, sorry Mario.
Needless to say, I was stoked for Super Mario Maker 2--after all, it’s Mario Maker, but
with more.
More tools, additional level themes, a full Story Mode, multiplayer, online, & the list
goes on.
And hey, now you can wear a catsuit while driving a car!
What’s not to love?
But can it recapture the magic of the original, or was that lightning in a bottle?
The answer, for me at least, is surprisingly complicated and will likely depend entirely
on your expectations and experience with the series.
Especially since Super Mario Maker appeals to people for different reasons, whether it’s
as a Creator, like myself, or as a Player, or somewhere in between.
And as one who played the original mostly as a creator, there’s a lot to be excited
about in Super Mario Maker 2, as every new object opens a cascading range of possibilities.
Slopes are a subtly fantastic addition that make courses feel more organic, while providing
more options to control enemy placement--even if they can be a bit clunky to place due to
them being handled more like a platform than terrain.
The new custom scroll option provides more control over the presentation of your stage,
with the Scroll-Stop ability being especially useful, helping to conserve real-estate resulting
in bigger levels, while also allowing you to better frame specific sequences of your
And I absolutely love some of the new objects, such as the On/Off Blocks, which I’ve had
a blast with and have already put to good use, such as in recreating the You Vs. Boo
stages from Super Mario Bros. Deluxe.
Hey, someone had to do it!
And then there are the new level themes which might be one of the highlights, whether it’s
desert, snow, or jungle, you likely won’t have any trouble finding a theme to match
your needs this time around.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fantastic new music too, both during gameplay
for styles where these level themes never existed, but also especially when creating
a stage in them too.
Just listen to how happy the Sky editing theme is for SMB.
Or how soothing 3D World’s desert is.
I love them all so much.
And speaking of level themes, each one also has a night version in the Retro styles, which
not only lends each a different look, but also unique gameplay attributes, whether it’s
reversing gravity when underground, allowing you to swim in the air of a castle, or turning
power-ups against you in the ground style.
I’ve only begun playing around with the possibilities and I can only imagine what
the community will end up doing with them.
But of course, the star of the show is the brand new Super Mario 3D World style, which
gives 2D Mario his largest repertoire yet, including long jumps, backflips, rolls, and
more, along with introducing entirely new objects and mechanics like the cat suit, koopa
troopa car, Clear Pipes, or even enemies that attack from the background.
Mario has never felt this acrobatic in a mainline 2D before and it’s an absolute blast to
play around with.

Clambering up trees, pouncing through the air, and taking a car out on a joy ride are
pleasures I didn’t know I needed in Mario Maker.
The new enemies open some creative possibilities too, whether it’s jockeying for position
against a literal Bully, or using a Bonsai Bill as a drill to open a path for you in
Taken altogether, 3D World definitely stands apart from the other 4 more retro styles....perhaps
a little too much.
As the 3D World style essentially exists in a vacuum, forcing you to commit to either
it or the Retro styles before you even get started, as swapping styles at any point wipes
the slate clean, forcing you to rebuild the entire level from scratch.
It’s a bit of a buzzkill, as Jon’s fiance can attest to when she quit out of frustration
after realizing the power-up she built her level around was found in a different style.
And the issue is compounded by the fact that 3D World is missing Mario Maker staples like
Tracks, Vines, and even stackable enemies-which is particularly baffling considering the 3D
games are the ones which introduced that feature!
Even some of the new elements like the Angry Sun, Dotted Blocks for the On/Off Switch,
and Night themes are missing entirely.
And that feature goes both ways, with elements in 3D World, such as on/off Spike Traps or
Ant Trooper enemies being exclusive to its style.
Now this oddly disparate featureset doesn’t ruin the game.
At the end of the day, there’s still far more content to play around with than before,
but it does chip away at the more relaxed, laissez faire approach of the original, which
went out of its way to ensure every object had an equivalent in all 4 styles, whereas
now, being forced to rebuild a stage from scratch feels oddly punished.
On the flipside, while the 4 Retro styles are still fully intercompatible with each
other, even some of the new elements feel oddly restrictive, whether it’s how the
new Goals feature is limited to just one at a time, or how the Angry Sun is more like
the Lonely Sun with how just one is allowed per area with zero ability to customize him
The user interface is still wonderfully simple on the whole, but it too has seen a few tweaks.
The biggest change comes in the form of selecting objects, which are now organized in a series
of wheels by category.
It’s ideal for a controller and can be faster overall if you know what you’re looking
for, though as one who sometimes has mad creator’s block, I do miss being able to lay everything
out at once as on Wii U to help spur some ideas.
One welcome tweak is that you can now simply long-press on any object to bring up all of
its alternate forms, instead of having to shake them or drag a power-up onto them, which
is both faster and easier to keep track of.
Now how you control the interface has seen pretty significant changes, especially since
the original Super Mario Maker has the distinction of being one of the few games to realize the
potential of the Wii U GamePad.

I rather enjoyed the interplay of creating levels on the Gamepad and then testing them
out at TV scale.
But obviously, things had to change for the Switch version due to its single-screen focus
and the results are a bit of a mixed bag.
Editing stages in TV mode with a controller is just a few hairs short of a total disaster.
It works, sure, but it’s slow and very awkward.
Selecting objects is tedious, requiring menu shortcuts and multiple button presses, and
dragging the sluggish cursor around the screen isn’t an experience I’d wish upon my worst
Mercifully, handheld mode makes editing far more pleasurable, with the touchscreen providing
instance access to most of the main functions.
Although I do still recommend getting a capacitive stylus as it’s both faster and more precise
than your finger and brings the experience that much closer to the Wii U original--even
if it falls a little short.
Editing a stage feels far more cramped than before, as the menus obscure nearly a quarter
of the work area, as compared to none on the Wii U’s Gamepad.
And while you are able to temporarily hide them with a button press, it’s a clunky
workaround as this only offers temporary respite.
Annoyingly, the button shortcuts for Deleting, Selecting, & Copying objects are now toggles
instead of just holding the button like in the original--and bafflingly, Selecting & Copying
have been assigned to the same set of triggers, requiring you to toggle through one to reach
the other.
I still screw it up after dozens of hours with the game.
And as one who isn’t a huge fan of playing my Switch in handheld form, I miss being able
to instantly test my stage on the TV with a proper pair of speakers-- I really have
no idea why a gyro-based pointer isn’t an option for editing on the TV, but cis la vie.
But perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the interface is the lack of meaningful
quality-of-life improvements.
Filling your stage with terrain still gets tiresome, requiring multiple passes to fill
it all in, making me long for an auto-fill option.
Tweaking the layout of your stage is also still a pain, and requires painstakingly dragging
small sections over one by one.
Although to the game’s credit, the new Zoom-Out feature does at least allow you to select
2 vertical screens’s worth--even if it won’t let you do much else.
And finally, there still isn’t a way to copy segments between the primary and sub-areas,
which is a drag if you realize you need to swap them during the creation process.
So that’s editing, but if you’re more on the Player side of the spectrum, then you
might be happy to discover that SMM2 has an entire single-player story mode, in which
Peach’s castle has suddenly disappeared and Mario’s left to clean up the mess, by
what else?
Paying for its reconstruction by playing through over 100 Nintendo-created concoctions to earn
some fast cash.
Now the levels themselves run the gamut from your standard Mario fare, being competent
but forgettable, to the incredibly clever, such as having to choose which item to carry
with you to solve a series of room-based puzzles, or exploring a desert temple built entirely
around tilting platforms puzzles.

While it’s far from essential, the Story Mode will give you at least a few hours of
quality content, along with some humorous dialogue, while also possibly giving you some
ideas for your own level creations.
But bafflingly, these courses exist only within the confines of Story Mode, as there’s no
way to import them into the creator to tinker with them yourself or see what makes them
In fact, the game offers no pre-built templates at all, beyond the random selection the title
screen gives you.
Even the Wii U offered a selection of Sample Courses to get you started, but here you’ll
find yourself starting from a fresh slate which is a bit disappointing.
Now when it comes to finding stages created by others, the process has never been better,
as you can now filter levels by the tags creators assigned them, meaning if you only want to
play underwater levels featuring puzzles made by someone in Europe, you totally can--at
least if you’re playing by yourself.
Because Super Mario Maker 2 also introduces multiplayer for the first time, both local
and online.
Which should be freaking awesome, on paper, but it’s hamstrung by a series of bewildering
design choices that might just test your patience.
But on a core gameplay level, the multiplayer in all its forms delivers a similar level
of chaos as the New Super Mario Bros. series, allowing players to bounce and bop each other
all over the place, often to hilarious results.
It can be a really great time if you’re playing with the right group of friends--which
of course, is impossible to do online at the moment since the game only pairs you with
complete strangers.
Now Nintendo has said they’re looking into addressing this with a future update, but
we don’t review games based on promises.
Which means the only way to play with friends is either on the same system, cooperatively,
or via Local Wireless, which annoyingly requires one of the players to have an internet connection.
And that’s because, whether you’re playing online or locally via wireless play, there
is no way to choose what levels you play.
Instead, the levels are chosen completely at random--and since every stage in Super
Mario Maker 2 technically supports multiplayer whether the creator intended that or not,
you’ll often end up playing stages that were clearly never designed with multiplayer
in mind.
And while this can lead to some pretty funny situations, it’s a novelty that I imagine
will wear thin pretty quick.
So yeah, if there’s multiple Switches involved at all, you’re at the mercy of the random
selector, which is super lame.
In fact, the only way to play stages of your choosing with multiple people is by doing
so on the same system.
And even here there’s a catch, because instead of just looking up a level and clicking Play,
as you’d expect--because that’s how it works when you’re playing by yourself--you
instead have to manually download every stage to your console first.
Which quickly becomes a tedious process, especially when you consider you’ll likely want to
delete them too at some point to make room for more--assuming multiplayer holds your
interest for that long at least.
So this all was pretty frustrating for me to discover, as I have a couple of levels
designed around entirely around Versus idea, in which every player has their own screen--and
yet, there is no way for me to play them with multiple people without hoping it randomly
pops up.
And finally, we have the matter of the overall presentation.
Because while it is mostly polished, it also feels a little vanilla.
The original Super Mario Maker was weird, and it knew it.
It delighted in the bizarre, as was made clear the moment you started up the game.
And most of that quirky personality has been stamped out of the sequel: Whether it’s
the weird start-up sequences, title screen easter eggs, startling death animations, or
random fly swatting games--it’s almost all gone with little new to replace it.
Now these details obviously aren’t essential in a gameplay sense, but they went a long
way in making the original Super Mario Maker feel special, whereas now it feels a bit more
Almost as if it were New Super Mario Maker.
And that’s also not to mention the missing amiibo costumes, which seriously bums me out
as one who was a fan of picking just the right one to match my level’s theme in the original
And this has gameplay ramifications too, as it gave small Mario brick-breaking abilities,
something that can’t currently be replicated in SMM2.
So that brings us to my overall thoughts, and, I’m still trying to work it all out
On the one hand, there’s straight-up more content here--and a lot of it is really is
quite fun.
The Super Mario 3D World style truly is a joy--even with its limitations--and there’s
something hilarious about trying to outrun a poisonous 1Up at night that has the determination
of a Terminator.
Yet, I just didn’t find myself as enamored with the entire package as I did the first
time around.
Rather than finding myself in awe of the possibilities, I instead was butting up against its limitations
far more than before-\
And when combined with my frustrations with the controls and interface, baffling multiplayer
system, and overall lacking personality, SMM2 simply didn’t resonate with me on quite
the same level as before.
Now don’t get me wrong: Super Mario Maker wasn’t perfect either, but I was a lot more
willing to overlook its issues back when everything was entirely fresh, than I am now, four years
& 800 gameplay hours later.
And there just isn’t enough here to make up for the frustrations and how familiar it
all feels
But since I very much doubt most people played the original for anywhere close to that long,
if at all, you very well might not share many, if any of these same issues.
And I truly do hope that you are able to experience the same sense of delight that I did the first
time around, because Super Mario Maker 2 might very well be the better game.
It just wasn’t the better experience for me----at least, not yet.
So for right now, I like Super Mario Maker 2.
And just as my thoughts on it have steadily improved over the past 3 weeks as I’ve better
accepted the game for what it is rather than what it isn’t, I wouldn’t be surprised
if that continues to grow, alongside the community that’s sure to build up beside it.
And with that, thank you for watching, and make sure to stay tuned to Gamepadia for
more on SMM2 and all things Nintendo Switch.

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