A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
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, encouraging players to be imaginative while learning the basics of game design. It also allows players to build levels together, promoting a sense of teamwork and cooperation. 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.
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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 and cooperatively.
Is it any good?
If you ever thought you could make levels just as well or better than Nintendo's designers, this is the game that will let you prove it -- just don't be surprised if it turns out to be tougher than you thought. While Super Mario Maker 2 is just as accessible as its predecessor -- you can create and publish a course in a matter of minutes with minimal instruction -- making a level that's challenging, fun, and fair takes 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. You can add clear conditions to your course -- such as making players collect a certain number of coins or climb a certain number of trees before reaching the finish -- insert tricky new enemies such as the angry sun from Super Mario Bros. 3, create sloped terrain so that you can slide through enemies, and drop in gadgets like a swinging claw to create fun new ways to traverse the environment. And working with friends cooperatively to make levels can transform the experience into something much more social, not to mention give rise to ideas that you might not have come up with on your own. 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.
The real challenge, though, may be getting your work recognized and elevated within the community. With potentially millions of players making and publishing levels, players may find it tough to find an audience for their courses. Happily, 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 to represent themselves within the community, which might help them gain fans and create a broader base of players willing to try new courses they create. 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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about learning with technology. Do you feel like Super Mario Maker 2 helped you understand what it's like to be a game designer? What do you think is the hardest part of designing challenging but fair levels?
Are there any advantages to working creatively as a team to design levels? Are there advantages to working alone?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Subjects: Language & Reading: reading
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: hypothesis-testing, problem solving
Creativity: making new creations, producing new content
Self-Direction: goal-setting, self-assessment
Tech Skills: digital creation, using and applying technology
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo of America
- Release date: June 28, 2019
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Misfits and Underdogs
- ESRB rating: E for Mild Cartoon Violence
- Last updated: March 1, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.