Game Info:

Super Mario Maker 2
Developed By: Nintendo
Published By: Nintendo
Released: June 28, 2019
Available On: Nintendo Switch
Genre: Action Platformer
ESRB Rating: Everyone (Mild Cartoon Violence, Users Interact)
Number of Players: Single System (1-4), Local wireless (2-4), Online (2-4)
Price: $59.99
(Humble Store Link)

Note: I'd like to thank both my parents for this review. My mother provided a nice stylus pen that made playing this so much easier, without which this review would not be possible. My father was gracious enough to review my attempt at making an SMB classic level (he's a diehard fan of the original), and according to him, this title captures the feel of the OG NES experience well. Fellow CCG reviewer TyFighter was also kind enough to playtest my sample first level and provide needed feedback.

If anyone wishes to play all my "demonstration" levels, the Maker code for the Super World they are grouped in is FRF-3VS-XGG.

There is also a special CCG-themed level to promote the site. The course code is BK5-PC7-SGG.

Longtime players of the Super Mario games have long thought "Man, it would be nice to make my own fan levels". Outside of some unofficial fan projects, this was a nice pipe dream until the Wii U Super Mario Maker. Unfortunately, that was on a system that didn't sell well and the 3DS port of it removed, curiously, the ability to share levels made on it. Super Mario Maker 2 for Nintendo Switch brings back all the cool stuff of the original without the drawbacks and with some new additions as well.

To be clear, this is both a game maker and a game combined. It has a story mode to get you used to various different eras of Mario side-scrollers, and it also has a massively fleshed-out game designer mode to make your own levels. Due to the Nintendo Switch Online integration (heavily recommended if you want to share levels or play user-created ones from around the world), you basically have an infinite amount of reasons to keep playing if you are a Mario fan.

The story mode begins with Mario and the Toads having finished renovating the Mushroom Kingdom Castle until a disaster results in it becoming a pile of rubble. Not to be deterred, they decided to rebuild it even better. Unfortunately, that costs a lot of coins for the materials. Fortunately, Mario is willing to work for it. Cue lots of side-scroller action through the various eras of Mario side-scrolling until that castle is rebuilt.

The game-making side of things is where it gets really fun. Outside of a tutorial mode (which is heavily encouraged for players to give a look-see if they are new), the game maker mode is a simple drag-and-drop-like game creator to put down various Mario assets until a complete level is built, after which it can be tested, saved, and uploaded for others to play. Up to 120 levels can be saved (though only 100 can be uploaded). It does have a few caveats, though. The levels must conform to a specific Mario era theme, like classic SMB1 or Super Mario World style, and you cannot mix assets from different eras. Second, once you pick a theme, the controls will default to the engine for that era of the game. Aside from that, each era comes with a wide array of assets, and some come with assets for levels they did not originally have done in the style of their game era, like Super Mario World having support for airship levels the original never had.

Super Mario Maker 2

Strong Points: Unlimited levels of replay value making and playing levels
Weak Points: Really hard to play without a stylus for game creation modes
Moral Warnings: Mild cartoon violence; presence of ghosts and zombie turtles

It's worth noting the more creative the player is, the more absurd creations can get, with silly stuff like Lakitu's throwing coins, upside-down levels where you can fall in pits on the ceiling, Bowser stomping around in a giant boot, and so on. You can also make fairly grounded levels that are much like the originals in style and flavor if you are a purist, or anything in-between. Aside from Nintendo making clear they wish to keep this family-friendly and will remove levels that do things like spell out profanity or use assets to display obscene art, they otherwise allow almost anything.

There are a ton of features, so I'll try to skim the highlights. On top of single levels, you can make "Super Worlds" using Super Mario World-style maps that can contain levels you've made of any Mario Era to group your creations together. The online features allow co-op building and platforming, so players can build and play submitted levels. The submission mode allows players to comment on levels, and submit tags to describe their contents in overview and favorite levels they particularly enjoyed.

Graphically, this game is a faithful medley of all the Mario eras. You have the classic NES and Super NES eras of Mario side-scrolling faithfully represented, even including tons of assets in their retro art style that are similar to later styles for that old-school look. The DS/3DS, Wii/Wii U, and Switch eras are also supported if you want more modern-looking levels too.

Sounds and music are largely derived from prior games. Everything from the classic Super Mario Brothers NES tunes of yore to the New Super Mario Brothers are all represented by the musical styles from those eras. They don't let you mix music from different side-scroller eras though; they are locked to the various level styles they hail from. One feature worth noting is how players can, much like the old Mario Paint, make "pseudo tunes" by stringing together sound effects so they can imitate music from other games.

The controls are going to be a mix of simple and difficult, depending on what you intend to do. For playing the story or user-created levels, standard Switch controls are more than adequate. Creating levels, on the other hand, is going to be very, very difficult without a stylus, especially if you played on a handheld Switch like I did. I recommend any stylus with a soft rubber tip since this will not hurt an unprotected screen. You could use a slightly moistened Q-tip (with the cotton just wet enough to be moist) in a pinch, but if you have some money any number of acceptable styluses are cheap on Amazon. I'd recommend a screen protector from the same place, preferably a glass-style one thin enough to register touch input but thick enough to shield the system screen from damage.

Stability is pretty solid. Aside from an unskippable loading screen at the start, this game loads pretty fast. Online is also pretty stable and never fails to load up, though the strength of your connection will play a factor here. Noticed no major glitches or issues.

Super Mario Maker 2
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 92%
Gameplay - 19/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 88%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Morally, there aren't too many red flags.

There is the usual cartoony side-scroller violence of the Mario games. This is all portrayed in a kid-friendly style and has no blood or gore as you'd expect from a game based on a series tailored for kids.

Language is clean. Online interactions are strictly policed by Nintendo to prevent uploads, comments, or anything of that nature that is inappropriate. Parents are also able to use their accounts to restrict what their children can see online, just in case they have concerns.

There is no sexual content. We do have the Dry Bones and Boo "undead" enemies, but like the rest of the game, they are played in a very cartoonish manner. Depending on what levels your child plays, they will be encountered at some point in the story mode, but it depends on the intent of the author for any user content or what the player chooses to create if these elements are included.

There are no outstanding moral complaints. The story mode is to repair a castle that got wrecked by gathering money by completing levels to begin repairs, which is perfectly fine. Otherwise, levels made by users are entirely up to their intentions as any possible moral issues. Again, Nintendo will remove anything they deem to be obscene and parents are given fine-grain control for their minor children on what online features their children can access.

It's a bit pricey, but given the insane level of replay value for both user-made levels and the fun of making your own, worth every penny. A stylus pen will be essential to have the least hassle in level creation though. Morally, it's not much worse than any other kid-oriented Mario platformer in general and thus fit for almost any age old enough to play these titles.

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