Super Mario Maker 2 review: Infinite Mario

Super Mario Maker 2 is out on June 28, but we had a chance to test drive the game ahead of its release. Our review.

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I thought about making my own levels the first time I ever played Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I was a young lad with all the time in the world, but the technology wasn't available. Nintendo Wii U would usher in the game that I dreamt of back in the 1980s. Super Mario Maker was built for the Wii U and the GamePad was truly the perfect input device for the game. Sadly, the console's poor reach led to many people never experiencing the joy of creating courses in Super Mario Maker.

Nintendo Switch, released in March 2017, has the Big N back in the driver's seat and playing with power once again. It is only fitting that the console would be home to Super Mario Maker 2, the sequel to the truly unique and delightful Wii U game. Over 35 million Switch owners can get their hands on the game on Friday, June 28, but in the meantime, our review.

New Tools, Tricks, and Toys

A whole host of new items, gizmos, terrains, and powerups are available in Super Mario Maker 2.
A whole host of new items, gizmos, terrains, and powerups are available in Super Mario Maker 2.

Super Mario Maker 2 introduces a whole new group of tools for creating levels. Nintendo clearly listened to feedback from players of the Wii U game, and the new features are all welcome additions that improve the overall course creation experience.

Course Clear Conditions allow creators to set a specific goal for players outside of just getting to the end. These different settings include collecting coins, carrying something to the end of the level, or not jumping at all. It is pretty easy to see how Clear Conditions will drastically change how levels are made in Super Mario Maker 2 when compared to the original game.

Another welcome addition to the game is the ability to raise and lower water/lava levels. This is something that has existed in Mario games for quite some time, and it is great to see the feature be made available to level creators. The ability to create Slopes was another highly requested feature that has made its way into Super Mario Maker 2. Players can now even create their own Autoscrolling levels in Course Maker.

It's not just the environmental options that have changed in the game. Super Mario Maker 2 boasts several game styles. Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. are joined by a new Super Mario 3D World game style that brings with it a host of new items. For the first time in a Mario Maker game, creators can make levels featuring Cat Mario Super Bell power-ups and those delightful tubes. ON/OFF Switches, Koopa Troopa Cars and Blinking Blocks are also available in the new game style, while the Sun and Moon will appear in each style with different effects. And, of course, Yoshi is finally playable.

While most of the additions are iterative, and were requested by Super Mario Maker players for years on the Wii U, they come together to create a whole new set of systems that greatly tranform the playing and creating experiences for the better. Mario Maker veterans will have plenty of new tools at their disposal, while new players will be on equal footing when trying out these new improvements.

The Gig Economy strikes the Mushroom Kingdom

Taskmaster Toad passed the buck to good old Mario.
Taskmaster Toad passed the buck to good old Mario.

Super Mario Maker 2 Story Mode tasks Mario with rebuilding Princess Peach's Castle following an accident. Mario finds himself in the role of an angel investor of sorts and he has to hustle up some coins to get the project funded. Things start out pretty simple with Taskmaster Toad handing out jobs to Mario and Chief Toadette running construction of the castle with Mario's funding. Times are tough in the Mushroom Kingdom and Mario has to head to all sorts of levels created by Nintendo to earn enough coins to save the day again.

The levels in Super Mario Maker 2 Story Mode inform players of all sorts of wonderful and crazy things that can be done in the game. Nintendo has done this in a way that creates a ton of replay value for less creative players who might not dabble in Course Maker very much. We can't confirm exactly how many levels are playable in Story Mode just yet, but please understand that players will have plenty of challenges if they choose to complete 100% of the mode.

Nintendo celebrates the rich history of side-scrolling Mario platforming with the collection of Story Mode levels, and they do it with their signature humor and charm. Fictional creators have names like Goomba Lover, Doctor Gizmo, Amateur Meterologist, Father of Name Withheld, and even World-Renowned Chef. The developers even poke fun at the player and themselves in the description of each job.

The charm offensive doesn't end there, as so many of the interactions with NPCs are just delightfully hilarious. I personally loved being called "Big Red" by Taskmaster Toad. Mario will also interact with Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow Toads for some side quests. Yellow Toad is a particularly sleepy fellow who landed some hilarious one-liners during my conversations with him in Story Mode. Nintendo also introduces players to a character from the original Super Mario Maker, Mr. Eraser. He seems pretty shady, but he knows how to get things done.

Mr. Eraser can get things undone, if you catch my drift.
Mr. Eraser can get things undone, if you catch my drift.

Super Mario Maker 2 Story Mode is a proper campaign that shows players the essence of great level design. Each level comes with difficulty rating, and completing harder levels will result in higher coin payouts. Players can go back to jobs and play them again, but they won't receive the payout again. It isn't a total bust, as you get to keep the coins you collect each playthrough.

Story Mode is a material improvement from the original Super Mario Maker. Nintendo clearly spent a lot of time putting together the levels, and the actual story is charming, fun, and adorable.

Wii U does what Switch don't?

The Nintendo Wii U was practically built for Super Mario Maker.
The Nintendo Wii U was practically built for Super Mario Maker.

While my experience with Super Mario Maker 2 was overwhelmingly positive, there are some issues that popped up during my time with the game that bothered me just enough to make them worth mentioning. Some of these problems with the game are a result of Nintendo Switch hardware limitations, and others are just design decisions that will not sit well with some players of the original Super Mario Maker on Wii U.

While the Wii U had a very odd two-screen setup, it allowed players to make Super Mario Maker levels on the GamePad tablet controller while still being able to see the fruits of their labor on their TV. This is no longer the case with Nintendo Switch as the hybrid handheld console works in docked or undocked modes. This leads to two completely different means of input.

The touchscreen UI works great and resembles the old days of using a Wii U stylus on the GamePad, but playing Super Mario Maker 2 with the Switch docked is not the easiest thing to pick up and play. Nintendo has adopted an item wheel means of navigating that is similar to how weapon wheels are used in traditional FPS games. While it works, there is a definite learning curve to making levels docked with a Switch Pro Controller. There are a lot of buttons that you have to get to know before making levels becomes easier. The menu navigation relies on the D-Pad while moving items or blocks uses the left analog. It feels weird at first, but it is not game-breaking by any stretch of the imagination.

Another problem that will likely affect content creators is that there is not really any way to stream from a Switch in handheld mode. This is something that wasn't an issue at all on Wii U, and the original Super Mario Maker ended up being a Twitch and YouTube sensation. The inability for Switch to stream from handheld mode is a definite setback for Super Mario Maker 2, as I can definitively say that I prefer making levels in handheld mode.

Super Mario Maker 2 cut me deep when they announced the game would not support Amiibo. The original game was full of all sorts of creative levels that featured a vast array of video game characters. While this is another feature that was removed, it is worth trying to understand Nintendo's reasoning here. Super Mario Maker 2 is really a celebration of the Mario series, and while Amiibo were fun in the original game, the developers really focused on making this the ultimate Mario experience. Sadly, Amiibo were a casualty of this vision.

Honoring the past while building for the future

The attention to detail that Nintendo gave each Game Style is amazing.
The attention to detail that Nintendo gave each Game Style is amazing.

Super Mario Maker 2 does a great amount of fan service for people who have been playing since the NES days, while appealing to new Nintendo players. Many people missed out on the first Mario Maker, and those players will have that same joyful first experience that I had in 2015. There was something truly magical about the original Super Mario Maker as it was a shining star for an otherwise fading Wii U console. This sequel finds itself on a platform that is incredibly healthy and full of players who missed the first opportunity to create and play in this wonderful sandbox.

The game brings back Course World and Coursebot while adding new multiplayer features. Leaderboards, Maker Points, and online head-to-head stats are all new additions to keep players coming back for more. Endless Challenge also returns and features a carousel of user-created levels that challenge the player to keep going for as long as possible. All of these modes add a ton of replay value to Super Mario Maker 2, and multiplayer gameplay has no business being that fun. The game also has a accessibility/difficulty feature that prompts players struggling with a level to seek Luigi's help. Mario's brother offers players power-ups, in case the levels are too intense. 

Another way that Nintendo has honored the past and present of the Mario series is with the music in Super Mario Maker 2. Every single menu, level, Course Maker screen, and item has a signature sound that just makes players feel like they are in a great place. Koji Kondo even dropped in for some new music made specifically for the game. One of my favorite details in the game is the audio feedback when placing a ton of blocks as they harmonize with the background music. A million little details like that have come together to make one of the best video game experiences to be released on Nintendo Switch.

Super Mario Maker 2 is a worthy successor to the original game. The additions of the new Super Mario 3D World style and host of new features really make this feel like a solid evolution of that creative explosion that began in 2015 on the Wii U. For many players, Super Mario Maker 2 will feel like a revolution, while veteran creators will take their knowledge into a whole new wave of level design. Nintendo has provided players with the tools to create an infinite amount of challenging, fun, and ridiculous Mario levels. Now we can all play with power. Infinite power.


This review is based on a Nintendo Switch code provided by the publisher. Super Mario Maker 2 releases on Friday, June 28 on Nintendo Switch for $59.99. The game is rated E for Everyone.

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.

Review for
Super Mario Maker 2
9
Pros
  • Robust Story Mode
  • New Mario 3D World Game Style
  • Outstanding music
  • New items and features create fresh gameplay experience
  • Tremendous replay value across game modes
Cons
  • Docked Course Maker controller learning curve
  • No Amiibo support
From The Chatty
  • reply
    June 26, 2019 6:00 AM

    Asif Khan posted a new article, Super Mario Maker 2 review: Infinite Mario

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 6:05 AM

      Aw yiss!!! Can’t wait to see this. I am a bit bumped about the difficulty of streaming in handheld mode. But I’m sure more sophisticated setups will have a way to get that video output.

      • reply
        June 26, 2019 6:56 AM

        My guess is most streamers will just build with a controller. It's less intuitive, but once the controls click, you'll be fine.

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 6:51 AM

      Hype.

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 6:55 AM

      Fantastic review. Cannot wait for Friday.

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 7:10 AM

      nice Nintendo continuing to kill it!

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 7:22 AM

      Yash Plez. Must to has NEAOW!

      • reply
        June 26, 2019 7:25 AM

        You are gonna love it. Can’t wait to see your levels!

      • reply
        June 26, 2019 7:27 AM

        It's too short of notice to do it now, but I'm now sorta wishing I requested Friday off for this.

        • reply
          June 26, 2019 7:30 AM

          Ditto, especially since my schecule just changed for this Friday.

          • reply
            June 26, 2019 7:32 AM

            How are you feeling, one random winner, are you feeling well?

            I think there's a bug going around.

            Pretty sure it's flu season. Or cold season. ... Hayfever season?

            • reply
              June 26, 2019 7:35 AM

              I've been fighting something all month and already did take a sick day. I've got vacation coming up next week though so I'll probably just bite the bullet and be thinking about it all day instead of playing.

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 7:28 AM

      Makes me wish for the days of the WiiU. I realize this is unlikely but do they have any vertical scrolling? Start from the bottom and work your way up or is it just side to side?

      • reply
        June 26, 2019 7:31 AM

        Yes, although the entire level can't be that way from what I understand. You can have a whole sub-level be vertical though (scrolling or not).

        • reply
          June 26, 2019 7:33 AM

          That is correct.

        • reply
          June 26, 2019 7:36 AM

          That might work.

          • reply
            June 26, 2019 7:37 AM

            Yup, make a tiny starting area with an ending area afterwards and build the level in the sub-area. I did something like that for a couple of levels in the original although they weren't vertical (as that wasn't available).

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 7:35 AM

      Typo:
      We can't confirm exaclty

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 7:36 AM

      Is there any place I can order a switch and a SMM2 and get them this weekend?

    • Zek legacy 10 years
      reply
      June 26, 2019 7:38 AM

      What are the search filtering options like? Can you apply filters to stuff like 100 Mario challenge?

      • reply
        June 26, 2019 8:52 AM

        No 100 Mario challenge in this one, replaced with Endless Mode

        • Zek legacy 10 years
          reply
          June 26, 2019 9:03 AM

          Ah I see, but still I want to be able to do "give me endless mode but don't ever show me auto-levels or SMB1 levels" and stuff like that.

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 8:29 AM

      Solid review, thanks for your couple of criticisms, the rest seems too good! Thursday night will contain none of sleep.

      • reply
        June 26, 2019 8:34 AM

        There will always be something special about Super Mario Maker for Wii U. It was just wonderful. This game does miss on some of the original magic, but the additions definitely make up for that.

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 8:34 AM

      I am SO hyped for this.

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 8:39 AM

      Wooo! The story mode is what I am looking forward to strangely. Also multiplayer looks fun.

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 8:52 AM

      For someone that has no interest in creating levels, would I still have fun with this?

      • reply
        June 26, 2019 8:53 AM

        Yes. Story Mode is a great experience by itself, and there will be some really cool levels created by other people for you to check out.

        • reply
          June 26, 2019 9:00 AM

          Is all the editor features unlocked by default, or do you have to load it each day again to unlock them? I bought my nephew's the Wii u one and did date cheating to unlock all content for them

          • reply
            June 26, 2019 9:03 AM

            Most of it is unlocked at the beginning, just some of the moon stuff is locked and that unlocks fairly quickly.

      • reply
        June 26, 2019 9:03 AM

        There will literally be millions of levels to play. Most of them will be bad, but even at just a fraction of a percentage of good games it ends up being more content than all other Mario games combined.

        • reply
          June 26, 2019 10:35 AM

          Do they curate the levels at all? How do you sift through all the shit to get to the good stuff? I didn't play the last one so I don't know how it works.

          • reply
            June 26, 2019 10:43 AM

            There is a like and boo system. The search function has a new tagging feature that helps too.

          • reply
            June 26, 2019 10:43 AM

            Last one wasn't great about this stuff. It's easier now that you can up and down vote stuff as well as search by level type. The easiest way though is still going to be following good creators.

            • reply
              June 26, 2019 10:52 AM

              Mariomaker subreddit too. The Shack should definitely call out solid people to follow with different interests.

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 9:25 AM

      "Players can now even create their own Autoscrolling levels" -- couldn't they in MM1 as well?

      • reply
        June 26, 2019 9:26 AM

        I guess there are more options. Speed, direction of the camera, etc.

        • reply
          June 26, 2019 9:27 AM

          Previous one had three speeds, but no camera direction. Strictly left to right. Now you can go up and down and angled and all that jazz. Necessary for vertical scrolls.

      • reply
        June 26, 2019 9:27 AM

        Yeah, it existed, I even made a couple. You've got way more camera control now though.

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 9:32 AM

      Pre-ordered and excited!

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 9:33 AM

      THIRTY-SIX HOURS!!!

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 9:33 AM

      I can't wait!

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 10:05 AM

      My kid is so excited for this. He asked me how much money he has (I think he's up to $40 now) and then he said "I'll use all my money for this game and if I don't have enough, you can pay the difference!" I was like 🙄 NOPE. I'm going to see if I can get him to pull out the weeds in the backyard today. I'll probably give him $10 for that. He already gets paid way above market value 🤣

      SPOILER ALERT:
      I probably will because I'm a sucker and he did work hard trying to get enough the last two weeks.

      • reply
        June 26, 2019 10:09 AM

        Haha, that sounds like me back in the day. I think it took till middle school before I was just working enough on enough things to have the money I wanted for the occasional game, although I was still buying used mostly.

        • reply
          June 26, 2019 10:13 AM

          Haha yes! I did that with books but man. It was hard. I want him to understand that things cost money and he's gotta earn them and all that good stuff. But the kid in me is like DAMN just give it to him lol. He's only 6 so I pay him $5 for helping with all the laundry and $5 for emptying the dishwasher. Ratalon was like wtf that's a lot of money! But things are more expensive now! Inflation! It would take him forever to save money if it was $1 or some shit lol

          He's been really good though. He stopped bringing his wallet in to the store when we go because he didn't want to spend any of his money. That's pretty good! Since he's up to $40 I'll give him a couple more opportunities for laundry and dishes and he should make enough by Friday.

          • reply
            June 26, 2019 10:14 AM

            Ya, I have a brother that is 10 years younger than me and by the time he hit highschool he was making twice as much for chores as I was at the same age. Inflation is a bitch.

      • Zek legacy 10 years
        reply
        June 26, 2019 10:16 AM

        You can use this as an opportunity to teach him about taking out loans and interest rates.

        • reply
          June 26, 2019 12:54 PM

          He's 6. If he was 13, maybe! I'm lucky to get him to pickup his toys on his own at this age. This is the first time we have done this with him and I'm afraid if he doesn't earn enough by Friday he's going to be pissed and say he doesn't want to do it anymore lol

      • reply
        June 26, 2019 10:56 AM

        I kind of wish my mom was more like this. She would just buy it for me no effort required on my part.

        • reply
          June 26, 2019 12:55 PM

          This is our first attempt at this. Usually I just buy him whatever he wants. At 6, I won't make him buy EVERYTHING he wants that is considered extra but we have gotten a ton of Switch games for him. so I figured it would be good to start the money lessons now.

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 10:34 AM

      YESSSSSSSSS

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 1:06 PM

      Just bought a new stylus for this game. Soooooo ready!

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 1:22 PM

      Badass review man! 👌

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 2:09 PM

      Why doesn’t streaming in handheld mode work?

    • reply
      June 26, 2019 6:35 PM

      Can you download lots of levels and play offline? Like on a plane ride?

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