Super Mario Maker 2 hands-on preview: Playing with power

Super Mario Maker 2 releases on Nintendo Switch in exactly one month, and Shacknews got hands-on with the game at a preview event in NY. Please take a look at our impressions.

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Super Mario Maker 2 is the much-anticipated sequel to one of the best games to be released on Nintendo Wii U. The game hits Nintendo Switch's eShop in exactly one month, but Shacknews got our hands on the level builder at a special preview event last week in New York City. Does this game stand up to the high expectations of first party Nintendo titles? 

Story Mode

Clear courses and donate coins to help rebuild Peach's castle in Super Mario Maker 2 Story Mode.
Clear courses and donate coins to help rebuild Peach's castle in Super Mario Maker 2 Story Mode.

A new addition to the Super Mario Maker franchise is Story Mode. Players who might not be the best level creators can jump into this new mode to try out a bunch of levels created by the wizards at Nintendo. These levels also showcase the new features of Super Mario Maker 2 and provides inspiration for creators who may not have thought of certain combinations of items and clear conditions. 

In Story Mode, players will help Chief Toadette and Taskmaster Toad rebuild Peach’s castle. Mario must do the needful by contributing coins that he picks up during his adventure. Taskmaster Toad will have jobs for players that will continue to unlock new levels as you progress through Story Mode. I was able to check out a few of the courses during the preview event, and they are certainly inspired by older Mario games, and they show off the new features of Super Mario Maker 2.

“I gotta say… Knowing you’re gonna single-handedly fund this entire construction effort really takes the pressure off me, ya know?” said Taskmaster Toad as he unveiled the first few playable Story Mode levels. The first course, A Downhill Battle, did a fine job of demonstrating the new ability to create levels with slopes. It’s a fun enough experience that features some mild platforming challenges. Following the completion of the first job from Taskmaster Toad, I had enough to head over to Chief Toadette to make my first payment. The foundation of Peach’s Castle was built for the low low price of 100 coins. 

ON/OFF Switches are a great new addition to Super Mario Maker 2.
ON/OFF Switches are a great new addition to Super Mario Maker 2.

Players can replay jobs from Taskmaster Toad’s list, but they are only rewarded for completing the course once. Players will be able to keep the coins they collect during their runs through levels they have already completed. The next job I checked out was called ON/OFF Switch Research Expedition, which is exactly how it sounds. This level showcased the new ON/OFF Switch gameplay mechanic that wasn’t in the original Super Mario Maker for Wii U. This level was a fun challenge that a skilled Mario player could easily complete on the first try. 

The third and final level I was able to try out in my short time with Story Mode was called Hello, 3D World and it showed off the brand new game style available in Super Mario Maker 2. All in all, the beginning of Story Mode highlighted what was new in the game, and each level had that signature Nintendo feel to them. Mario fans who might not be super jazzed about creating levels in the game will have plenty of jobs to complete for Taskmaster Toad, but us Mario Maker veterans know what this game is really about. 

Getting back to making levels

Super Mario Maker 2 has a revamped Course Maker mode that adds a ton of new gameplay elements. Creators of levels now have a lot of tools at their disposal to make levels even more complex and sinister than was possible in the Wii U game. 

I focused on playing the game in docked mode as handheld gameplay is very similar to how things worked on the Wii U gamepad. It is also very difficult to capture handheld gameplay footage in high fidelity, which will pose some problems for content creators when the game ships next month. I wanted to make sure that the game felt right when making levels with a pro controller. While there is a bit of a learning curve, docked gameplay was a pleasantly user-friendly surprise.

Players will navigate the item menus with the directional pad and place or move items with the left analog joystick. Items now have dynamic menus that appear when you hold a button down while interacting with them. This allows players to do tasks like embiggening enemies with only a couple of button presses as opposed to having to drag a mushroom item onto the character in the Wii U version. There are little design changes and updates like this strewn all across the game, and it leads to a much snappier user experience than the first Super Mario Maker.

The biggest change to the game comes in the form of Item Wheels. Taking inspiration from weapon wheels in FPS games, players can pull up any game style’s items easily by pressing the Y Button and scrolling through Terrain, Items, Enemies and Gizmos. There is a bit of a learning curve to using the new controller-based approach to creating levels as it is not nearly as visceral or intuitive a way to interact with levels, but I felt myself getting into the groove of making courses in docked mode after about five to ten minutes of fudging around in the game. 

Creating courses still feels great and there are so many new things players are able to do that a preview event simply didn’t do the game justice. I left the play session sad that I was unable to finish my level, and my mind continues to race about the possible combinations of new gameplay options. Players can now make a level with slopes, Sun and Moon modes, ON/OFF Switches, rising lava, and clear conditions. All at the same time! Super Mario Maker 2 will certainly let players create courses that were impossible in the original game on Wii U. 

Co-op Multiplayer has no business being this fun

Super Mario Maker 2 features co-op multiplayer gameplay, where players can team up to take down levels together. Nintendo has captured the same fun and excitement that comes from playing New Super Mario Bros. U with friends in this new mode. This new way to play will certainly inform course makers’ design decisions as players can now designate a level as multiplayer in Course World. 

Multiplayer will undoubtedly add even more replay value to this game as players will be able to get together and tackle their friend’s latest course. The interesting thing about this mode is that a clear condition will be cumulative, so if 100 coins are required to complete the level, all four players’ totals will be summed up when they reach the end of a level. This lead to funny moments during my preview session where my team reached the end of the level only to find out we didn’t have enough coins. Clear conditions are a fun new mechanic and they really shine in multiplayer mode. Even though players are supposed to tackle levels together in a cooperative fashion, things still got pretty competitive as Luigi always wants to prove that he is number one.

Playing with Super Power

Super Mario Maker 2 gives players the ultimate tool to create side-scrolling Mario levels, and it iterates perfectly on its Wii U predecessor. This is a game that every Switch owner should be drooling over as we head into E3 2019. My mind left the preview event racing with ideas for how to combine the new gameplay elements with level ideas that I have been thinking about since the first game shipped in 2015. Super Mario Maker was a title that was built for Wii U and its Gamepad, and Super Mario Maker 2 certainly feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch. Shacknews will be reviewing the game when it launches next month, and we can’t wait to see what our community gets to building when the game releases on June 28.

CEO

Asif Khan is the CEO and majority shareholder of Shacknews. He began his career in video game journalism as a freelancer in 2001 for Tendobox.com. Asif is a CPA and was formerly an investment adviser representative. After much success in his own personal investments, he retired from his day job in financial services and is currently focused on new private investments. His favorite PC game of all time is Duke Nukem 3D, and he is an unapologetic fan of most things Nintendo. Asif first frequented the Shack when it was sCary's Shugashack to find all things Quake. When he is not immersed in investments or gaming he is a purveyor of fine electronic music. Asif also has an irrational love of Cleveland sports.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 28, 2019 6:00 AM

    Asif Khan posted a new article, Super Mario Maker 2 hands-on preview: Playing with power

    • reply
      May 28, 2019 6:22 AM

      Well I'm excited but y'all probably already knew that. I do have a question though as I don't have NSMB:U Deluxe. When you were playing with the Pro Controller did you have any issues controlling Mario with the janky D-Pad?

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        May 28, 2019 6:24 AM

        Hey one random winner if I get this game, would you play it with me?

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          May 28, 2019 7:35 AM

          Totes. I will make levels and you can play them and tell me how awesome you are at defeating them and why I should just git gud at making them. Alternatively you will tell me to make them easier. I have an issue making w-2 and 3 difficulty levels, tends to be easy or immediately more difficult.

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            May 28, 2019 7:39 AM

            🤔 The thought of making levels that are hard just for hard's sake doesn't sound appealing to me. Playing them sounds fine I suppose.

            🙂 I think the kind of levels I would make would follow the Mega Man philosophy: introduce (A) in a safe environment, introduce (B) in a safe environment, now put (A) plus (B) together. I just wanna make something fun but not necessarily hard.

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              May 28, 2019 9:01 AM

              I'm not a kaizo mario maker or anything like that, just seems most of my levels seem to hover in the W6-W7 range or down at W1-W2 if you're comparing them in difficulty to a normal 8 world Mario game.

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                May 28, 2019 9:04 AM

                My favorite Mario is Super Mario World (the SNES Mario) so I'm gonna stick to that theme.

                Honestly I think the World 4 (sky world) level in Mario 3 is a good example of "sweet spot" difficulty that also introduces new fun mechanics.

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        May 28, 2019 7:27 AM

        I didn’t really control him with the d pad..

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      May 28, 2019 6:24 AM

      Super power!

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      May 28, 2019 7:28 AM

      Looks awesome, but man - editing with a stick looks hard as heck.

      I wasn't super excited about this, but dang it Asif - you're selling me. lol

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        May 28, 2019 8:35 AM

        I thought there was a stylus you could get that works with this, because yea that looks terrible control wise.

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          May 28, 2019 8:37 AM

          The Wii U was perfect for Mario Maker because it showed different things on the tablet and TV, and because the controller has that screen embedded within it.

          The decision you have to make with the Switch is docked or undocked, and I can definitely see where this is a case where undocked is way better - at least for level creation. No special stylus should be needed.

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        May 28, 2019 8:39 AM

        The first ten minutes I played with the controller, I was like, “this is awful and they ruined it.” After I got the hang of it, I liked making levels with the controller quite a bit. It will not be as tactile as handheld, but they figured out a good way to do it. I do think it will making streaming the game more difficult than the Wii U version.

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      May 28, 2019 11:16 AM

      missed it on Wii U, so excited to start this journey with you fine folks

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