Arts

Games: Nintendo's Mario Maker 2 a platform for creating fiendishly hard new worlds

Mario Maker 2 allows gamers to get creative with Nintendo's most famous character
Neil McGreevy

Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch)
By: Nintendo

THESE are heady, hi-tech times for an industry that learned to crawl through the 80s on a steady diet of fiendishly clever 2D larks. And, proving class has no sell-by date, the humble platformer once again straddles the top of the gaming charts.

Doffing a plumber's cap to their mascot’s heyday, Nintendo's creation station returns for the Switch in a literal block-buster. A charming, candy-coloured trough for those creative juices, Mario Maker 2’s tools are intuitiveness incarnate, meaning Mushroom Kingdom Michelangelos will be birthing platforming brain-boons in minutes, whipping up the kind of 2D joys we'd have shelled out 40 quid for back when such jollies were cocooned in five inches of grey plastic.

And, if you're the type of gamer who boots up a console to avoid creativity, SMM2's got you covered, pal. A story mode stuffed with over 100 levels means there’s a massive suite of Nintendo-created action to tackle, and the sheer invention on show here ranks among the finest 2D Mario seen since the SNES era.

Giving players the keys to the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario Maker’s toolset lets you peek behind Nintendo’s curtain, conjure up your own masterpieces and gift them to the world. An infinite number of home-brew levels await, and while the overall calibre seems higher this time around, it’s early days for a community that loves punishingly sadistic turns as much as rehashes of classic Mario fare.

The original’s four game styles are joined this time by Super Mario 3D World (complete with Cat Mario, who can scurry up the sides of levels), with new themes, enemies, power-ups and terrain. Vertical stages are now possible along with the ability to add stage conditions, such as not being able to jump. Better still, four-player online co-op with randoms or old-school couch-based multiplayer lets players create and play together.

Level design is achieved either on the telly using controllers or the traditional (and much more intuitive) touchscreen method – though you’ll want to grab a capacitive stylus and sturdy screen protector before going to town on your precious toy.

Despite wallowing in nostalgia, SMM2 is, however, hamstrung by a very modern scourge, with the ability to share and download levels restricted to those who’ve ponied up for Nintendo’s online service: if Mario doesn’t have your credit card, you’re not getting in.

Still, even gamers jaded by Mario’s hop n’ bop formula – and there's many a modern joystick junkie who never knew the 16-bit era's precision platforming – will find enough new bells and whistles here to ensure a rare old time as Nintendo once again manages to make nostalgia funky fresh.

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