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Mario is a video game icon not only because he's a plucky and affable dude, but because he's the face behind some of the best platformers of all time. Nintendo has carefully guided his adventures for decades, but something happened in 2015: It gave players the keys to design and share stages in Wii U's Super Mario Maker, and the Mario we thought we knew took on a whole new light. He was no longer a laidback high-jumping hero; Mario became a hardened speed demon, a death-defying daredevil forced into unruly gauntlets crafted by evil geniuses who know his every hop, skip, and jump like the back of their hand.

With the Wii U and 3DS versions of Mario Maker abandoned by Nintendo at this point, Super Mario Maker 2 on Switch brings us back to that heady time from years past. The game itself is largely familiar, though the more you play and create, the more you notice all of the little additions tucked inside and appreciate how they elevate the potential for creativity in new ways. Mario Maker 2 is a robust level creation tool and a fantastic open-ended platformer that will no doubt spur a new era of competition among players and creators alike.

Due to the fact that so much of Mario Maker 2's potential success lies in the hands of its players, we are going to give the community time to acclimate and a chance to show us what it's made of at large before weighing in with our final verdict. But so far, it's amazing what the right players can do when given the tools to craft Mario's world.

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The intuitive drag-and-drop system is back–you don't, however, have the luxury of a built-in Switch stylus, so consider buying or devising one before getting into the game as using your finger alone can cause you to occasionally misplace objects. You can create while your Switch is docked, though ultimately that should be a last resort considering how quickly you can place objects in handheld mode, even with the lack of stylus. Picking and placing ingredients for your level, or painting wide swaths of land, is a quick and painless process, and there are intuitive means of copying, pasting, and undoing your work as needed. You are once again given access to the components of games including Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U, along with their numerous enemies, objects, and mechanisms. You select a game theme and work within that toolset, but you can easily switch to another one on the fly and retain most of your work–only occasional elements aren't transferable.

The big exception is the newly included set based on Super Mario 3D World, which can only be used in isolation. Lest you mistake the "3D" aspect to suggest you're breaking free from side-scrolling Mario, you aren't–you're just given access to unique elements from that game, such as the never-not-strange Cat Mario power-up. Far from being the only notable addition, the sum total of which are too numerous to list here, the Cat Mario suit is up there with the ability to make slopes, craft custom scrolling for stages, and set level-clear conditions as one of the most impactful additions to the Mario Maker formula. That's just judging by our pre-launch experience, but time will tell what seemingly average element gets twisted into a diabolical weapon in the hands of the craftiest creators. In Mario Maker 2, as in the original, even the smallest variable can have a huge ripple effect

For new creators, there's the chance of becoming overwhelmed with the number of options available at the start, but that's where Yamamura's Dojo comes in. Yamamura is a pigeon, but a very wise and insightful pigeon at that. If you need help wrapping your head around the basic concepts that go into conceiving and creating a level, Yamamura's your bird. His catalog of 45 lessons (divided into Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced sets) walk you through everything from laying tracts of land and placing Goombas to the more philosophical side of level creation, even navigating the meta side of being a creator unleashing their work for others to judge.

These lessons will help get a novice creator up to speed, and the fact that there's nothing holding back knowledgeable designers from the start was a smart move by Nintendo, too. As mentioned, the limited pool of creators has thus far made some truly impressive stages that utilize Mario Maker 2's robust toolset well. The overall level of logic inherent to a Mario game remains largely the same–no digging under the hood to rewrite traditional cause-and-effect rules, for example–but the spirit of Mario Maker 2 comes alive when familiar elements are combined by masterful players, often in ways that Nintendo would never employ in a traditional Mario game.

So far, that unexpected creativity often manifests itself in oddball stages packed with an unreasonable number of enemies, diabolical platforming tests that demand superhuman reflexes, or clever contraptions that move Mario and key items around an environment with calculated chain reactions. Not every stage is a winner, but because the fundamental controls and elements of the world are tried-and-true, it's rare that you run into a custom stage worth getting upset about. Ultimately, dozens (soon to be hundreds, if not thousands) of alternative stages are seconds away, a convenience that&#Read More – Source

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