‘Super Mario Maker 2’ game review: Nintendo gives aspiring game developers a fun and powerful playground on the Switch

Tribune News Service

The sequel to 2015's hit platformer adds more tools to the Course Maker mode and a single-player story campaign

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'Super Mario Maker 2' lets aspiring game developers create their own levels.

In the past, developers had to know a little of everything – programming, visuals and design – to create a game. Thankfully, technology has advanced far enough that game-making tools are more accessible.

The tools are so easy to use, in fact, that whole games have been made around them; one of the best examples of the genre is Super Mario Maker 2. The sequel to the 2015 hit carries over many of the features of the original and refines them in the Course Maker mode.

The game performs a delicate balancing act that gives players more tools without making the creation process overwhelming. Nintendo has a built-in advantage because gamers have a wealth of knowledge about how Mario titles work. They know how Goombas behave and that Question Blocks contain power-ups.

The developers use that familiarity to design a user interface that’s simple to understand and fun to use. They give players objects at the top and the Nintendo Switch touch screen is used to pick and choose how they’re laid out across the level. At times, the process can feel like drawing.

By experimenting with how objects are used, players can come up with interesting combinations. Nintendo has added slopes that vary the terrain and allow Mario to slide into enemies. Super Mario Maker 2 also includes a wider array of enemies and gizmos. Players can also team up with friends to work on levels, adding a Minecraft-ish element to the sequel. There are even custom win conditions that require players to accomplish tasks like not jumping or avoiding damage to finish a course.

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Every new tool expands the possibilities for each level. It allows the game to have a broad range of content. The only issue is that the discovery process still needs work. Course World lets players choose from popular, hot, and new levels, and though this
lets players find good fare, it’s still tough finding excellent stages or ones that suit a player’s taste. It’s also more difficult for people to find your levels among the thousands of offerings online.

Super Mario Maker 2 provides players all the right tools for the job for them to take a stab at being the next Shigeru Miyamoto. All they have to do is put in the time and dedicate themselves to the art.