Parents need to know that “Super Mario Maker 2” is a game about making games exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. It provides players with tools and tutorials to create, edit, and share their own side-scrolling “Super Mario” levels. Players will be part of a moderated community of game makers encouraged to support and provide positive criticism on each other’s work through a system of likes and text comments. The cartoon violence is limited to what players encounter in most side-scrolling “Mario” games, with player characters hopping on goombas and koopa troopers, kicking shells off the screen, throwing fireballs at enemies, getting poked by spikes, and being burned by flames. Keep in mind that the difficulty is largely unpredictable, with both Nintendo-designed and player created levels ranging from short and very easy to longer and extremely challenging. Note, too, that a Nintendo Online membership is required to access online features.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
“Super Mario Maker 2” puts players in the game designer’s chair by providing all the tools necessary to create their own side-scrolling “Super Mario” courses from scratch. The story mode sees Mario working to rebuild the Mushroom Kingdom’s castle by earning coins playing through a variety of courses. These courses — set in the visual styles of several classic “Super Mario” games — are meant to serve as inspiration for what can be done in the course editor, which is where kids are likely to spend the bulk of their time. The course editor lets players place every brick, goomba, coin, and power-up, making courses as challenging and imaginative as they like. It adds to what was available in the original “Super Mario Maker” by including a new visual theme (based on “Super Mario 3D World”), dozens of new items, objects, and enemies, the ability to add special clear conditions for your courses (such as not being allowed to jump), the option to set your stage in either day or night, and the ability to design courses in tandem with a friend on the same system using separate Joy-Cons. Completed courses can be uploaded to the game’s community, where players can carry out criteria-driven searches for new courses to play, provide feedback to creators, and engage in special challenges, such as seeing how many random courses you can complete with a limited number of lives. Levels can also be downloaded, with up to four players able to play simultaneously/cooperatively.
IS IT ANY GOOD?
“Super Mario Maker 2” is just as accessible as its predecessor, but it’s also challenging, taking a lot more patience and practice. The good news, though, is that this sequel adds all sorts of nifty new features to fiddle around with. And working with friends cooperatively to make levels can transform the experience into something much more social. And if you get into a disagreement you can settle it in versus multiplayer mode, where the winner is the fastest player to the flag.
With potentially millions of players making and publishing levels, players may find it tough to find an audience for their courses within the community. Luckily though, the community is well designed and easy to navigate, so hopefully kids will be able to find like-minded players who provide positive feedback that helps them improve their design skills. Plus, players can show a little more of their personality by designing a Mii avatar, which might help them gain fans and create a broader base of players. And if kids discover they have a knack for building levels others want to play, it’s not inconceivable that this game could inspire them to pursue game design as a career. “Super Mario Maker 2” doesn’t just satisfy our urge to play and create, it gives us a small but authentic taste of what it’s like to make a living making games.
RATING AND CONTENT
Recommended for ages 6 and older
Quality: 5 out of 5
Educational value: 4 out of 5
Positive messages: 4 out of 5
Positive role models: 3 out of 5
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Ease of play: 4 out of 5
Violence and scariness: 1 out of 5
Language: 0 out of 5
Consumerism: 3 out of 5
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Nintendo of America
Release date: June 28, 2019
ESRB rating: E for mild cartoon violence