By Isaac Espinosa
What a creation! As Mario dons his builder outfit once again, players must put on their thinking caps to explore the limitless options in Super Mario Maker 2. Super Mario Maker 2, developed and published by Nintendo, once again allows players to use many iconic items and terrains from five of the main Mario games in order to create their own unique levels. As you create, your imagination runs wild!
Before going further, it’s important to address the brand new story mode. The plot begins as Mario and many different Toad builders have just finished creating Peach’s castle. But just as the project seems finished, the Undodog, who can undo any actions done within a level, accidentally presses the level reset button, destroying all of Peach’s castle! Now it’s up to Mario to complete tasks and collect coins in order to enable the reconstruction of the destroyed Castle. These tasks are essentially levels that were created by Nintendo for the story mode. Aside from teaching players about the new tools at their disposal for making levels, these tasks offer exciting challenges that test the skills of all Mario Maker 2 players – all wrapped up in a decent narrative.
Now, for the meat of the game: The Course Maker. As the builder, players have many options for the levels they can create, limited only by their own imagination. Starting off, the player can choose from different course designs, such as fields, airships, castles, and the brand new desert and sky levels. The player can also select from five different styles, each based on a particular Mario game. These styles include Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, New Super Mario Bros U., and newly added to the sequel, Super Mario 3D World. Depending on the style players choose, the different Mario games allow for intriguing ways to construct levels, like using the wall jump and spin jump. These techniques are only found in the 3D World and Mario Bros. U – or other exclusive items that come from each style.
Some great examples of cool items are the Super Ball flower and the Super hammer. The Super Ball flower is exclusive to the original Super Mario Bros., and employing this item allows Mario to throw a bouncy ball (rather than a fireball). This bouncy ball can go at very strange angles, and can also be used for interesting level designs. Imagine using t he Super Ball flower to get rid of enemies that’d normally be difficult to hit, or to collect more coins that are hanging high. The Super Hammer, which is exclusive to the 3D World style, allows for Mario to wear his builder outfit. With this power up, Mario can bang a hammer to destroy certain blocks that can’t be destroyed with jumps, and even take down usually invulnerable enemies like the Thwomp. But more importantly, Mario can generate boxes out of thin air, and use them as platforms to advance further into the stage. He can only create five boxes at a time, so be aware when using this power up yourself.
It’s kind of incredible that Mario Maker 2 offers so many creation items. Some of these include brand new Gizmos such as the On/Off Switches, which can clear up certain blocks and activate or deactivate conveyor belts, and the Swinging Claw, which will automatically grab Mario and allow him to swing to bigger heights. There are also brand new enemies, such as Boom Boom, one of Bowser’s new minions, and the Banzai Bill, a bigger version of the regular Bullet Bill. And this doesn’t even take into account the wonderfully weird objects and enemies exclusive to the new 3D World style, such as cthe Cat Bells that turn Mario into a cat, as well as new enemies like the Piranha Creeper, Ant Troopers, and Meowser, a version of Bowser that uses the Cat Bell power up on himself.
As in the original Mario Maker, players can upload their levels online, allowing people all over the world to play them. However, the player must complete a level before being able to upload it, to prove that it works and it’s possible to beat. People who play your levels can like, dislike, and comment on them. You can even make tags for your levels, so others know what they’re in for before they begin. New in this sequel, however, is the ability to play online co-op, which is divided between competitive and a more friendly style of play called “local.” In competitive, four players must race to the goal and be the first to beat the level. In local, four players must work together to beat the level before time runs out, and only one player has to reach the end for the whole team to win. In competitive co-op especially, the games can get hectic and chaotic, with everyone under pressure and trying to get to the goal first. You can sabotage other players in both modes, by getting in their way or throwing the other players into an obstacle like a bottomless pit, but you’re encouraged to be as fair as possible.
All in all, Super Mario Maker 2 greatly improves on what the original game brought to the table. While the original Super Mario Maker didn’t have that many flaws, the new features brought into the sequel make it all the more wonderful. Whether you’re the one playing the levels, or making them for others to enjoy, Super Mario Maker 2 truly deserves recognition as one of the best Mario games to date.
Isaac Espinosa is a New York Videogame Critics Circle intern. He’s the founder of the Lehman College Videogame Critics Circle.