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Super Mario Maker 2 Takes Creativity To A Whole New Level

2015’s Super Mario Maker was one of the best games on the Wii U, which means you probably didn’t play it. You may have even missed out on the truncated 3DS version. Now that you for sure own a Switch (you do, right?), you’re in luck. Super Mario Maker 2 does a triple jump past its predecessors. This is a pretty miraculous feat for two reasons: 1) the Wii U game was perfect and 2) it was also perfectly suited for the Wii U’s GamePad.   

When Super Mario Maker 2 was first announced, I’ll admit I was skeptical about whether or not creating unique courses would be as breezy on the big screen with a Joy-Con instead of a touchscreen GamePad. It isn’t, but that’s not game over. There are two ways to enjoy this game: playing through courses and making them. When it comes to the latter, I’d still recommend going handheld and sticking with a stylus, depending on how stubby your fingers are. For the former, you’ll want to bask in the full-screen glory of this game, which means keeping it docked. It’s THAT epic.

This brings us to Story Mode, which is not only the best way to get inspired by the infinite possibilities that go into making the perfect course, it also introduces you to Nintendo’s coolest new mascot, Undo Dog. In the first Mario Maker’s Story Mode, it was a hoot seeing all the creative ways this beloved franchise could be twisted by its own developers, with different sequels and styles clashing in unpredictable ways.

Four years later, that trippy momentum hasn’t slowed down in the slightest. Not only does each of these 100 levels showcase just how bonkers Mario Bros. can be, they’re also some of the smartest designs in the history of the series. Going even further, now we get a proper over-world campaign in which our famed plumber must collect coins by completing pre-made levels in order to rebuild Princess Peach’s castle after Undo Dog accidentally hit the reset switch and nuked it. This plot is nothing revolutionary, but it definitely feels more like a full-fledged Mario story as opposed to clearing a bunch of stages without any proper motivation. There’s also enough content here to make up an entire game.

But the real meat and potatoes is found in Course Maker. The sheer volume of options isn’t just staggering, it’s all yours right out of the gate. Everything you need to build your dream course based off of elements and enemies from Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U are instantly at your disposal. Whether or not you’ve got the chops to build anything worth playing is on you, kid.

Whereas the first game did a little more hand-holding, Super Mario Marker 2 can feel pretty overwhelming for novices. But don’t let the game’s massive amount of options discourage you. Like before, Yamamura the pigeon is on hand to show you the ropes, if needed. 45 lessons are divided into three convenient categories— Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced—to help you become the next ground-breaking game designer. Even if you’re already a seasoned level-maker, you might learn a few new handy tricks here.

No matter how accustomed to Mario Maker you already are, the tool-making canvass is very user-friendly.  Whether you’re swapping game styles, Koopa shells, or conditions required to successfully complete a level, everything is quickly accessible once you get the hang of it. You might even forget all about that Wii U GamePad. If there’s one addition I can’t praise enough, it’s “Clear Conditions.” Instead of simply making it to the flag at the end of the course alive,  you can also set unique objectives that must be met in order for that flag to appear, like not jumping, never taking a single hit, or defeating a specific number of specific enemies. When it comes to either clearing or making courses, this adds a new level of heat to an already spicy meatball.

Like the previous Mario Maker, at this point we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the myriad ways a traditional 2-D Mario game can be made and played. There’s even a new Super Mario 3D World style that can be accessed in the “extras” section, granting you access to assets from that superb 2013 Wii U game, including the wonderfully weird Cat Suit.

When it comes to two-dimensional platforming, I can’t see there being any other reason to enjoy a non-Mario Maker-style game at this point. Following the launch of this game, there’ll be countless courses giving Nintendo designers a run for their money.  Make sure to skip the duds thanks to a new “Boo” rating that can be bestowed on lacklustre levels.

Multiplayer has also been given a welcome overhaul. Racing through a level with up to three other online opponents makes for some highly amusing awkwardness. If you’re not feeling the competitive itch, you can play though or even build a level cooperatively. Expect plenty of arguments to ensue, so hopefully you’re online and NOT on the same ouch. Mamma mia!

Super Mario Maker 2 is out now exclusively for Nintendo Switch. Check out the trailer below: