When the original Super Mario Maker came out on the Wii U nearly five years ago, we lamented how disjointed it felt to just play individual levels without “any sense of continuity or progression.” We longed for a Mario Maker that let us arrange individual levels as building blocks to create “a complete game, one that progresses gently from easy to hard, teaching you new tricks and throwing in clever twists on old themes along the way.”
Tomorrow, Nintendo will finally be making those dreams a reality with what it’s calling the final major update to Super Mario Maker 2 on the Switch. The new World Maker mode will let you play with “All your ideas that couldn’t be contained in a single course and share them with people around the globe,” as the announcement video puts it.
Yes, that includes the ability to create a world map, complete with bridges, hills, customized course icons, background elements, and a variety of cosmetic themes. Those world maps operate on a pretty coarse-grained 7×4 grid system, though, perhaps to make it harder to draw rude words or images with your course paths.
Up to eight individual worlds can be linked together to make an entire “game” with up to 40 of your courses (unfortunately, you can’t use this feature to curate custom collections of courses created by other players). You can also hide bonus levels in your map, including the famous slot machine item-matching game from Super Mario Bros. 3.
After nearly five years, this feels like the final piece of the puzzle that will allow Mario Maker to reach its full potential. In the past you could just repeat a Mario Maker level for hours until you finished it, which encouraged a few specific types of level designs. Now, preserving every item, hidden coin, and extra life might be necessary to help you make it through a carefully constructed sequence. That should in turn lead to a blossoming of more thoughtful level layouts and sequences through different ideas.
More items, more enemies
On top of the World Maker feature, each game style is also getting a unique new item in this update:
- Super Mario Bros.: An “SMB2 Mushroom” that lets you ride on top of enemies and pick them up. Not quite the Super Mario Bros. 2 game style we might have been hoping for, but it should allow for some good course variety in any case.
- Super Mario Bros. 3: The Frog Suit gives Mario the usual high-jumping and fast-swimming powers, plus the new ability to run on top of the water’s surface.
- Super Mario World: The Power Balloon makes Mario float, now with the ability to also change his angle in mid-air. Ho-hum.
- New Super Mario Bros. U: The Super Acorn lets Mario drift as a flying squirrel.
- Super Mario 3D World: The Boomerang Flower lets Mario throw boomerangs, as you might expect.
The Super Mario 3D World game style is also getting a selection of five unique helmets as power ups. These range from a cannon box that lets you shoot projectiles to a Bullet Bill mask that lets you fly horizontally to a Goomba mask that hides you from foes like Thwomps.
Perhaps more important than all that, Nintendo is also introducing the Koopalings (aka “Koopa Kids”) as new boss characters available for insertion into levels. All seven of these miniature koopas have slightly different capabilities, and they should make for a nice change from the endless waves of Boom Booms and Bowsers that often end Mario Maker stages.
While Nintendo is calling this the final “major” update to Super Mario Maker 2, that doesn’t preclude further minor updates or even paid DLC for the game in the future. That kind of support probably depends on how sales and player numbers look following this update’s release tomorrow. We know we’ll be diving back in to see what new multi-level creations these options lead to from the community.