I didn’t think my love affair with Nintendo and Super Mario games could get any better, then along comes Super Mario Maker 2.
Released at the end of last month on Nintendo Switch, Mario Maker 2 picks up where the critically acclaimed original left out, and then some.
Players can choose from a selection of prior Super Mario games for their course’s visual style and gameplay on, including Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, New Super Mario Bros. U, and a newly introduced Super Mario 3D World theme.
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The mechanics and enemy AI can vary between the styles in what is in itself an epic trip down memory lane for Mario fans.
SMM2 keeps everything that made the original game great but also introduces new assets and tools as well as multiplayer modes and an all new single player story mode.
The multiplayer element includes co-op course creation, where up to two players can locally create stages together at the same time while also allowing as many as four online players to complete user-made courses, cooperatively or competitively.
But it is Story Mode where I found the most joy as you take on “jobs” - aka crazy new levels created using the Mario Maker tools in varying difficulties - as you seek to earn money to help rebuild Princess Peach’s Castle.
You get to play more than 100 Nintendo-created courses, in order to collect enough coins to rebuild the castle. Non-playable characters will also offer players extra tasks and jobs throughout the mode.
This makes for a thrill-a-minute Mario dream ride that is dripping in nostalgia from start to finish.
You can call on the Mario Maker tools at any time during a level to help you solve puzzles or navigate you way through the stage.
Combining the Maker element with story mode throws up a near endless universe of possibilities with the custom levels from other players meaning things never get old or repetitive.
Creating levels is user-friendly and straightforward. Creating robust, good levels, worth sharing with the wider Nintendo Switch gaming audience takes a lot more work but once you do it proves to be utterly satisfying in perhaps a completely unique way for gaming.
Not only is SMM2 one of the slickest game design programs ever created for public consumption, its story mode could genuinely be released as a standalone Mario game, it is that good.
You can flit between playing other people’s levels, to progressing in story mode or creating your own masterpieces with consummate ease.
And after two weeks playing for hours on end I still feel like I’m only just getting started.
Masterpiece seems to be an apt word because in console gaming terms that’s exactly what SMM2 is.