Apparently almost four years has elapsed between Super Mario Maker on Wii U and its sequel, Super Mario Maker 2 on Switch, and this blog post is also coming a bit more than four years since I reviewed the original Super Mario Maker. The original game was enjoyable and I played plenty of user-created levels, but it didn't quite wow me. I enjoyed playing through that game's 68 included levels, but a lot of them were extremely short and clearly intended to be more like samples for inspiring creators rather than fully satisfying levels by themselves. The 120 levels included in the sequel are much more enjoyable and do feel like legit Mario levels. The first game included some original or long-forgotten powerups and mechanics, but Mario Maker 2 really ups the ante, and the included levels are a real showcase of the level creation toolsets' new features. Highlights include the return of the Super Mario Land Superball Flower, being able to wear a Dry Bones' shell and gain some new abilities, and the addition of the Super Mario 3D World aesthetic and many of its mechanics and powerups, but in 2D. The game also added some robust and surprising DLC in three drops that added new multiplayer features, a surprising and entertaining crossover with the original The Legend of Zelda that lets the player take on the role of Link, with many of his trademark pieces of equipment, and most recently the carrying mechanic from the original Super Mario Bros. 2 game.

While I enjoyed but didn't love Super Mario Maker, Super Mario Maker 2 is a completely different story. The developers have improved on the original in every way, and the game is bursting at the seams with features. My only two complaints are that I still don't see why you can't easily get a list of course by people on your friend list, and the "story mode" is extremely barebones and doesn't really have much of a story at all. The setup is a little like Super Mario Run, where you gain coins by completing levels in order to restore Princess Peach's castle, and it seems like a missed opportunity that the story wasn't a little more creative and engaging. Also, the number of coins you'll have after beating all the levels also most likely will end up being less than the total number you need to unlock everything you can build, so you have to grind for coins by repeating levels near the end, which is also an annoyance.

It's gratifying that Nintendo didn't simply repackage their Wii U version of Super Mario Maker, as Super Mario Maker 2 is truly worthy of being a sequel. Although I'm still waiting for a proper new 2D Mario platforming game, this game is definitely the next best thing. I've enjoyed playing levels with friends co-op online, including the courses from the various official Nintendo accounts and various others I've come across. I don't necessarily feel the need to play courses indefinitely, but it's nice to know that there's a near-infinite number of high-quality levels that I can dip into whenever I do feel the urge.

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