Super Mario Maker 2 review | Making a Mario

Has the plumber got the a-making a-skills to make us a-go ‘wahoo’? Yes. Yes he does. Here’s our review of Super Mario Maker 2…


In Super Mario Maker 2’s story mode, players are given 100 levels that Nintendo EPD’s internal team has created using the tools available to everyone over in the course creator.

Very few of the levels here feel like traditional Mario experiences – instead, they’re designed to work as examples of what you can go and create yourself, showing off how levels in Super Mario Maker 2 can challenge you to complete interesting puzzles, or build levels based around singular unique gimmicks that use the tools in interesting ways.

In one level, for instance, you need to get keys to unlock doors across a series of screens by tricking cranes on an upper level into grabbing and dropping Goombas into certain spots that you can’t reach. The cranes will grab or drop objects if Mario is standing below them, so it’s all about timing your movements, with no traditional platforming involved.

In another, Mario and Yoshi are dropped down a long low-gravity tunnel, and you need to take out as many Cheep-Cheeps as you can on the way down. It’s up to you if you equip Mario with a Fire Flower for ranged attacks or a cape so that you can bonk them on the head as you go.

These unique, fun level designs speak to the flexibility of Super Mario Maker 2, but also suggest that Nintendo has been influenced by what creators built in the first game, and how they found ways to bend the creation tools into interesting shapes. Super Mario Maker 2 leans into this, resulting in one of the best, most accessible, and most fun level creation toolsets around.

In the review period, during which media and influencers were creating and uploading levels, one player built a functional Super Mario World shoot-’em-up using a Fire Koopa Clown Car and a heap of Fire Flowers. Another used a crane to make a one-shot ‘golf’ game. A personal favourite involved an obstacle course built for the Koopa Troopa Car that required precision jump timing and a keen awareness of your surroundings.

Wisely, most of your creation tool kit is unlocked from the start this time (aside from a small number of story mode unlockables), including the numerous new additions. There are new level themes that can be used, including desert, forest, and snow levels; you can set ‘clear’ conditions, so that a level needs to be completed while collecting a lot of coins, taking out every enemy, or even without jumping; two players can work on courses together now with a Joy-Con each, and you can play through levels with up to four players.

There are a lot of additions and tweaks made to the already excellent template set by the first game – too many to list, but odds are that if you found yourself wishing that you could do something in Super Mario Maker, the sequel will let you do it.

By far the most substantial additions are the Super Mario 3D World assets. While you can palette swap levels between the other four skins, turning, for instance, a Super Mario Bros. level into a New Super Mario Bros. level instantly, 3D World levels exist in their own build category – they’re still 2D levels, but they play and feel differently.

It’s got unique enemies, objects, and power-ups, including the Cat Suit that lets Mario bound up walls and dive diagonally down into enemies from above, as well as substantially different physics. Naturally, I immediately set about building a level full of transparent pipes, walls for Cat Mario to scale, and every boss the game would let me cram in. It was only after the level was published online that I realised you could skip the entire meticulously designed second half of it by taking a long blind jump instead of going down a pipe, which, to my mind, is a fantastic Easter egg.

Building a stage with your finger on the touchscreen can feel a bit fiddly at first, and using a controller even more so. But once you’ve acclimatised, this is an extraordinary level builder. If you’re a Mario fan – and if you own a Switch, you probably are – you have the advantage of already understanding this series’ vocabulary, and thus knowing how every object is going to operate before you drop it in.

This makes Super Mario Maker 2 immediately accessible. Even in these early days, when (potentially) millions of talented creators are yet to flex their abilities, the quality of the user-made levels is already extremely high, occasionally on-par with Nintendo’s own offerings. Making a level that feels good to play takes surprisingly little time, and the in-game tutorials (run by a delightful pigeon named Yamamura) run through not only how objects work mechanically, but also which design elements will make a level more satisfying and fun for players.

It has those odd Nintendo-isms you’d expect for an online game. Only being able to save and upload 32 levels at a time feels like an arbitrary restriction, and it’s a pain that the game doesn’t automatically show you levels made by people on your friend list unless you seek them out and ‘like’ their profile.

You can’t play with friends online at launch either, although an upcoming update will address this. But still, Super Mario Maker 2 is the ultimate level designer for anyone with zero existing knowledge – and it’s good for those with a few years under their belt, too.


The Super Mario 3D World tools are fun to play around with, but nothing tops the Koopa Troopa Car. It’s a lot of fun to experiment with in the course builder, and when someone uses one effectively, it’s extremely fun driving through a level, timing your jumps, and mowing down Goombas.

Verdict: 84%

A better, smarter, bigger sequel basically guaranteed to generate amazing levels and fun times for all.


Genre: Platformer / maker-‘em-up
Format: Switch (tested)
Developer: Nintendo EPD
Publisher: Nintendo
Price: £44.99
Release: Out now

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