The Mushroom Kingdom finds itself faced with a conundrum once again. After what I can only guess is a cataclysmic event that Nintendo’s chosen to keep secret at this point, Peach’s Castle lies in ruins. Fear not though, as, geared up in his builder outfit, Mario has the right tools and Goomba-stomping shoes to save the day.
Where players had been posed with beating the 10 Mario Challenge in the original game, Super Mario Maker 2 comes stuffed to the brim with more than 100 handcrafted courses that Nintendo has created. The mustachioed icon’s side-scrolling escapades feel dramatically different this time around though, and not just for the fact that you aren’t thwarting Bowser’s dastardly schemes or rescuing Princess Peach.
With no particular threat (that we know about), Mario must instead muck in to help fund the reconstruction project. After Chief Toadette reveals her dismay that they have used up their entire budget, the Italian hero steps in to offer a helping hand to build an even bigger and better castle that’s fit for Mushroom Kingdom royalty.
Chief Toadette may be in charge of the project, but it is Taskmaster Toad who will hand you jobs that have been pinned on the bulletin board. Completing these will reward you with the Coins that are needed to rebuild the Peach’s Castle, one section at a time. The first job that was thrown in my direction was from Goomba Lover, with Taskmaster Toad quickly explaining that most clients don’t tend to use their real names…
Goomba Lover’s job challenges Mario to complete a course that has been crammed with – you guessed it! – Goombas. Reach the goal pole and you will be paid 100 Coins, and are free to keep whatever Coins you collect along the way. While this single-player content looks set to keep us occupied for hours, it also serves another purpose to gently educate players about the intricacies to course creation.
Even this first course, as the earliest example, looks to teach you about sliding down slopes. That’s a gameplay mechanic that those who have been adventuring with Mario for years will know, but, for those less familiar with his 2D heroics, it’s something that they can learn about, see in action, and then add to their own courses.
Coins collected, you can then hand them over to Chief Toadette to begin (re)construction. This will always start with the Foundation to Peach’s Castle (100 Coins), before you are presented with more options. However, construction takes time, that, represented with hammers, will require that you complete more jobs before the Builder Toads finish it. The Foundation, for example, won’t be done until you complete another two jobs.
That makes sense, pushing you to conquer the game’s courses to gather Coins – rather than stand around waiting for something to happen. The next three jobs that you can set out on are Doctor Gizmo’s “ON/OFF Switch Research Expedition,” Lonely Farmer’s “Hello, 3D World!,” or Amateur Meteorologist’s “Under the Angry Sun.” It won’t come as a surprise to long-time fans of the mustachioed plumber that these familiarise (and playfully mess around with) the ON/OFF Switch, Super Mario 3D World style, and Angry Sun.
You will eventually run out of jobs to complete, and that’s where the gameplay loop to Super Mario Maker 2’s Story Mode kicks in. Rebuilding parts of Peach’s Castle will unlock more, and, while you have to construct the Foundation first, you have more choice over which sections to build beyond that – such as Main Hall 1F and East Hall 1F. These each reward you with different jobs once built, meaning that players will have a different route to completion.
The best part about the Story Mode in Super Mario Maker 2 is that not only does it demonstrate the creative potential behind the course creation tools placed at your fingertips, but that Nintendo’s team has clearly had just as much fun going beyond the boundaries of what we’ve come to expect from a side-scrolling Mario game in an effort to surprise us. Nintendo’s mission has long been to put smiles on the faces of everyone that plays their games, but it’s hard not to think that they were permanently etched on the developer’s as well while cramming Story Mode with such creative and wacky courses.
Super Mario Maker 2 will release exclusively for Nintendo Switch worldwide on June 28th.