The first level I saw made by someone in Super Mario Maker 2 reenacted the John F. Kennedy assassination. It didn’t last long on Nintendo’s servers, but a slightly viral tweet should keep its memory alive online forever for some.
Say what you will about making a Mario level in extremely poor taste, but it’s just a small sample of the endless creativity that comes with a game like Super Mario Maker 2. If you can build it and beat it, you can share your warped vision with the world and let others try to beat its world record. A game as replayable as this can make you more forgiving about the wonky Maker ID codes and all the menus you have to navigate to find things, then try to find them again if you liked them enough.
The second version of Nintendo’s Mario course maker is just as good as the first, but publishing it in 2019 and offering players essentially limitless options in the sandbox means things are going to get weird. And in this case, it’s entirely a good thing. The game’s story mode has your Mario building a castle that UndoDog blew up, completing levels and gaining coins to slowly rebuild it once more. But the real fun is in the online play that is absolutely necessary to truly enjoy one of the most replayable games on the Switch outside of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
One popular level, Mario Goes To McDonalds, has your Mario drive a car to the titular fast food eatery and consume a powerup that makes him Mega Mario, then forces him to run on a treadmill until he becomes a regular-sized Mario again to finish the level. It’s funny, charming, and extremely thematic. There’s hilarious fun pretty much everywhere you look in the player-made levels. You can unionize a Goomba warehouse, play Spot The Difference, solve a puzzle box and find Zelda, and other Nintendo games remade or paid homage. There are plenty of speed runs, too, if you’re into that kind of thing.
If you dig deep enough you’re bound to find something that interests you, including Vine references and all the meta humor our broken online brains crave in this day and age. For me, the puzzle levels worked a different part of my brain, which is often a necessary reprieve if you’re not particularly great at Mario in the first place. Which, well, I’m not. Playing some levels in Super Mario Maker 2 as a person who is “Just OK At Mario Games” can be a frustrating endeavor, but it’s the reason we watch people who are good at video games play them online: good gamers making things look easy is wildly entertaining.
Trying to get through something like this, though, is a controller broken in anger just waiting to happen.