When the original Super Mario Maker released for the Wii U back in 201X, I remember feeling rather dubious about it. Sure it sounded interesting, but would it really be able to match a proper Mario game? It turns out that the answer was a resounding “YES!” Mario fans took to the game almost instantly, and the internet was quickly flooded with all manner of incredible creations. My own group of friends got in on the action too, and I distinctly remember having a great time trying to clear their levels.
\For whatever reason though, I never got around to making a level myself. If I had to guess, it was probably because I thought making levels wouldn’t be all that much fun for me. Nevertheless, I resolved to give it a go once Super Mario Maker 2 launched for the Switch, and I’m so glad that I did. See, playing everyone’s creations is still a ton of fun, but it turns out that crafting levels is even better
I’ve only made a handful of levels in Super Mario Maker 2 so far. They’re obviously amateurish works that are all some mix of too difficult, too boring or too poorly planned, but designing them was quite satisfying anyway. Perhaps it’s because it kind of feels like pulling back the curtain on the level design process. Stages in Mario have always worked so well that they kind of feel obvious, as though there was only one way that a given level could have been made. Crafting stages in Super Mario Maker 2 disproves this notion though. Level design is very difficult in practice, and it wasn’t until I started trying to make my own that I fully understood that. I thought that a level could be fun so long as it worked, but it goes so much further than that.
It’s not enough for a level to “just work,” it needs to be interesting to play too. That’s where all of my frustrations and minor victories have been coming from in Super Mario Maker 2. I’ll lay out a level thinking that I’ll be able to just build upon it and make it interesting with enemies and such. However, it turns out that interest can come from layout too, and all the extras like enemies have to be taken into account from the very beginning. Otherwise, the level winds up feeling rather random and poorly paced. This has been a difficult lesson to learn (again in practice), but I’m seeing my concepts and layouts slowly improving as a result. Every successful test is just as much fun as clearing someone else’s creation now, and I find myself oddly psyched about some other random player stumbling across on of my levels and actually enjoying it.
So yeah, making levels in Super Mario Maker 2 is much more satisfying than I ever thought it could be. Playing and seeing the online masters at work is still incredibly cool, but now it’s cool for a different reason. Instead of simply marveling at the design, now I’m finding inspiration. It’s been awfully cool so far, and I hope this iteration of the game lasts longer than the original. I’ve got too many cool level ideas to see the game die out too early!
What do you think of Super Mario Maker 2 so far? Do you like playing or making more? What’s the coolest level you’ve seen so far?
Lede image from Nintendo’s product page.