- Developer: Nintendo
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Release Date: 28/16/2019
- Price: £59.99 / $59.99
- Review code provided by: Nintendo
Super Mario Maker
The Wii U was, even in the eyes of the most ardent Nintendo fan boy, a monumental sales failure; a victim of muddy marketing. Paltry sales figures of 13 million lifetime sales further demonstrated this and resigned the Wii U to the history books as Nintendo’s worst performing home console. Despite it’s failures, it was the home to an incredible line up of first party software and responsible for the inception of IPs that are now mainstays in the Big N’s awe inspiring arsenal. Alongside Splatoon, the Wii U also gave the public their first taste of what I call ‘being Shigeru Miyamoto’. Of course, I’m referring to the original Mario Maker.
Originally conceptualised as a tool to make the development of 2D Mario games more accessible in house, it quickly became apparent that Nintendo had a killer app on their hands. Unfortunately, the aforementioned issues with the Wii U meant that the console was already past the point of redemption, however; being the ever optimistic bunch that they are, they went ahead and released Mario Maker regardless. It did little to alter the fortunes of what will essentially be remembered as the prototype for the Nintendo Switch. However the importance of it’s release is right up there with Splatoon as a benchmark for Nintendo’s more modern approach. Much like Splatoon, it relied so heavily on online availability. Whilst there are offline options, it really comes into it’s own when online.
Super Mario Maker 2
The second offering in our beloved paltry plumbers creation tool arrives on the Nintendo Switch with nearly everything that made the inaugural offering so wonderfully addictive, and sprinkles every nook and cranny with delicious Nintendo flavoured seasoning to make sure it’s infinitely moreish. Along with the returning themes; Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros, the inclusion of a 2D Super Mario 3D World skin, complete with it’s own unique assets, is a welcome addition.
Super Mario 3D World was an absolute gem of a game. It introduced items such as the double cherry and cat suit, as well as the ultimate form of Bowser, Meowser. Nintendo embraced this and the latest game style is a joy to both build in, and play levels created with. The inclusion of the long jump means that gaps can be extended and other new features; the aforemention Meowser, Koopa cars and those pesky piranha plants that venture wildly from their pipes, all add so much variety to what is already an endlessly creative experience.
Themes and customisation
Also new to Super Mario Maker 2 are four all new course themes. Adding to the OG offerings of ground, underground, underwater, ghost house, castle and airship are dessert, snow, forest and sky. Each new theme offers beautiful new backdrops and the forest and castle now have new features too. These come in the form of adjustable water and lava levels, meaning you can add even more layers of difficulty. You can also now add specific clear conditions to your course. For example, reach the goal with out taking any damage or without jumping.
By performing a simple unlocking trick, even more choice is added to proceedings and you can really start to get creative. In the underground section you can flip the gravity so that Mario walks on the ceiling. In the dessert you can add wild winds to hamper Mario’s progress towards the flagpole. I wont spoil them all here but it’s safe to say, a lot of fun can be had simply discovering the entire tool set, let alone playing around with it.
Further adding to the mind boggling amount of choice are new options for auto scrolling, along with variable speed settings. Also new to the game is the ability to flip the orientation of your level grid from horizontal to vertical.
Slopes and tings!!
A constant gripe I had with Mario Maker was the lack of slopes. Clearly I wasn’t alone in this and Nintendo clearly heard the feedback from the community. Revealed in the initial teaser trailer, the ability to make hills of varying gradients is a triumphant addition to Mario Maker 2. In a way that kind of feels like the concrete of this title. With Mario Maker having laid the foundations, Super Mario Maker 2 is able to exponentially grow and infinitely build upon what Mario Maker put in place. Without reinventing the wheel it adds intricate layers of choice onto what was already an incredible array of options.
It’s amii(bo), Mario.
Whilst it irrefutably offers so much more than it’s under appreciated ancestor, there are certain things its predecessor could do. For one reason or another these have been neglected and left out this time around. As an avid collector of amiibo’s, the decision to not offer any kind of amiibo support is inexplicable. One of my personal favourite features of the original was being able to tap an amiibo and receive a little sprite mushroom, which when chomped upon would alter 8-Bit Mario’s appearance. The extra depth that this offered; as people created themed levels based off of their favourite Nintendo franchises, was a real selling point. Surely the issue isn’t to do with the additional file size? The data required for such charming little sprites would be minimal. Surely the assets are kicking around a server somewhere at Nintendo HQ?
Tell me a story, Mr. Mario
The closest thing the original Mario Maker had to a story mode was the Endless campaign. Endless campaign sees players pick a difficulty level; easy, medium or hard, and embark on a journey through the creations that the community had provided. The difficulty of levels was determined by the clear rate percentage. In fairness, it did throw up some crackers but it also filed the gap with some absolute duds too.
Enter Story mode. This time around, Nintendo included a campaign featuring over 100 levels from the brightest creators in house and the result is an utterly opulent experience. The creativity demonstrated is wonderful, with levels switching between game styles and skins throughout. These are genuinely some of the best 2D Mario levels in a very long time and what is apparent is that Nintendo were keen to demonstrate the potential of what can be made in Super Mario Maker 2.
As a side note, Endless mode returns this time around, and offers more of the same as last time – a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Another seemingly welcome addition to Super Mario Maker 2 is the ability to create and play levels designed to be played with others. You can create puzzle solving elements into your course designs that require the help of friends to reach the checkpoint. In theory this is a great idea but, unfortunately this mode suffers from unfathomable frame rate issues. Simply put, it’s unplayable.
The state of Nintendo’s online infrastructure is often the subject of intense ridicule. Super Mario Maker 2’s online multiplayer does nothing but further this image. Hopefully future updates to both the game and their Online experience will remedy this, as it is a truly wonderful idea. It should be noted that as an online experience, you can’t choose to play with friends from your friends list. Instead you are paired with strangers. This again seems like an oversight, one that Nintendo have already acknowledged and intend to patch out in the foreseeable future.
Arguably, the main USP of Super Mario Maker 2 is the ability to create levels that one day might land you the dream job at Nintendo. With over 2 million levels created by the community at the time of writing, it goes without saying that people have embraced the creativity offered and some of the levels you will find online are simply stunning, brimming with ingenuity. Aside from well made, traditional platforming levels, you’ll find courses designed for speed running, auto play levels which – as the name suggest guide you through the level and musical numbers that as you run through a level, use music notes to play catchy chip tune renditions of everything from Star Wars to Pokemon music.
It really does make you marvel at the genius of both Nintendo, and the millions of fans the world over who manage to get so much out of, relatively speaking, so little.
To help keep the levels in some way organised, a tagging system has been implemented in Super Mario Maker. By adding two tags on to your created level, for example ‘Short and Sweet’ and ‘Speed runner’ it makes finding exactly the kind of level you fancy more attainable.
Please App-ease me Nintendo
Back in the day, before we had an almost redundant Nintendo Online App, there was a glorious Bookmark site designed for use with Mario Maker. You could peruse it at your pleasure and bookmark levels to play on your Wii U at your own discretion. Although it wasn’t readily available at launch, the fact is, it changed the way levels could be discovered. With Nintendo’s own Online App being available for just Splatoon 2 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, it begs the question as to why they didn’t have a similar service available within the App from day one. Maybe they’ve simply given up on it and have a new service in place, ready to wow the masses. In reality though, it feels like yet another missed opportunity.
The Nintendad wrap
All in all, Super Mario Maker is a staggering achievement – a culmination of Nintendo’s unending quest to experiment and innovate, and the Wii U’s failed attempt at one last system seller. The new features alone are worth the entry fee. Combined with everything else available, there is so much to do. You won’t be putting Super Mario Maker 2 down anytime soon. Whether you are creative or not, Super Mario Maker has a game mode for you.
While there are a few glaring faux pas present in it’s current state, future patches and updates can surely see it hit the dizzying heights of gaming perfection.
- Endlessly varied 2D Mario
- New skins and themes add even more variety
- Wildly active install base
- The inclusion of story mode brings with it the best 2D Mario in years
- No amiibo support
- Online multiplayer is heinous
- Inability to play with friends online
- No companion app
Super Mario Maker 2 expands on nearly everything the original did so well and elevates it to new heights. A few, admittedly alarming, gripes aside, this is the last 2D Mario game you’ll ever need.
Until Super Mario Maker 3 of course..