Super Mario Maker 2, for all of its lavish features, of which there are certainly many, doesn’t succeed just on its core design principles. No, Nintendo and company accomplish something much greater, thanks to a spectacular community that is churning out fantastic and creative levels before you can say “Mario.” It’s unquestionably a delight, and despite the affair overall feeling like a brush-up to the acclaimed Wii U title rather than a fully-fledged title, it’s one of the most profound Mario experiences, easily outclassing the overrated Super Mario Odyssey and the barebones Mario Kart 8 Deluxe to be the best experience that the lovable red and blue plumber can offer on the Nintendo Switch.
When delivering a community-based game like Super Mario Maker 2, there is undoubtedly much to compare to, for better and worse. Not only did this year alone bring some of the best releases of the genre, the early access release of Dreams the most notable in mind, that particular style is becoming a quick gimmick in many gaming IPs, including the biggest one of them all, Fortnite. Even so, the groundwork has been laid for this 2019 sequel thanks to its predecessor. And with the heightened Nintendo Switch online capabilities, creating, sharing, and playing levels is now easier than ever, and an unquestionable joy once you get the hang of things.
As for creating levels themselves, they can often be a mixed bag, particularly when you “switch” it up and bring in a friend to realize a sprawling, epic vision of a 2D Mario level. The controls can be finicky and the small screen size of the undocked console makes it uncomfortable and painfully unwieldy. But even so, it’s unlikely that such a feature will even be utilized that much anyway, as most players would detest at the idea of sharing of all a level’s intricate layers and secrets with a friend who would most likely suffer through it otherwise. Additionally, though, despite the addition of the Super Mario 3D World theme, it feels similarly like a gimmick than fully fledged idea. Being able to move and adjust the camera for the player could have been a revolutionary idea and could have skyrocketed interest in that particular theme, thus expanding Super Mario Maker 2 from a strictly 2D experience to a nuanced 3D one. It isn’t a deal breaker by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s something to keep in mind, especially since a third installment is all but guaranteed.
In the end, there really ultimately isn’t that much to discuss about the title. Outside of some dull and gimmicky features, it’s a roaring success, with little in the way of actual flaws. Yes, the online services of Nintendo Switch can have the occasional hiccup. Yes, the game is more of a streamlined update rather than a fully-fledged sequel. And yes, the levels can sometimes be more difficult than you can possibly imagine. But if these are nags that you can avoid, then Super Mario Maker 2 might just do it for you.