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.