Super Mario Maker 2 does a lot new, like add a Story Mode. In another first for this now-series, it adds multiplayer. Which is, well, a choice. There are times when it can work, though it takes a few steps to get things going locally. There are also times where a little more thought was needed, say with online versus play. It seems like it has some growing to do.
Co-op making is fine. It isn’t an ideal situation. We don’t have the ideal means of creation available in that mode. By which I mean, someone isn’t using the touch screen to place and arrange things. But, it has its uses. If you are working with someone unfamiliar with Super Mario Maker 2, it is great. The person who is “Mario” has more control, thanks to having the copy, menu access and multigrab abilities. The other person can erase and select parts too, so they can help. It feels like a situation where the person who knows what they are doing (player one) has the other person on hand as an assistant for helping to decide where some incidentals should go.
If you have one system and want to play with friends nearby, you have to prepare ahead of time for the encounter. There are 60 spots for Downloaded Courses and 120 My Course slots. You have to separately choose Play Together for each course. If only two people are playing, you are limited to Mario and Luigi, as Toad and Toadette are assigned to the third and fourth controllers. It can feel a bit barebones, since it means after every level, another isn’t automatically presented from what you have. You have to head back to the Coursebot menu and choose the next one manually, but I suppose at least it is there.
The online options in Course World offer more to do with Network Play. Regrettably, I did not have enough people nearby with Nintendo Switch systems and Super Mario Maker 2 to engage in Nearby Play, where up to four people can join their systems together, select a difficulty level, then join or find a room to play together. However, Global Play against random players was a possibility and, well, the experience can vary depending on who you are paired with and which level is randomly picked for you to attempt.
Whether you participate in Multiplayer Co-op or Versus, things proceed in a similar manner. You are matched up with three other people. If a Communication Error does not occur, you get the chance to play. Co-op lets you vote for a course difficulty level, while Versus takes you right into a match. While Co-op is rather manageable, Versus starts everyone off at D-rank and assigns you no points to advance unless you are the person who touched the goalpost at the end. Worse, if you die, something that can happen because of your own mistakes, lag or other people’s careless behavior, then you can find yourself starting back at the beginning of a level if no checkpoints are around.
There are a lot of things that can cause issues. Lag is a serious problem at this point. While I experienced it most with levels made in the New Super Mario Bros. U and Super Mario 3D World styles, it could even happen with Super Mario World. If one person’s connection is bad, everyone suffers. Puzzle levels, which are intended for one person, can be a real problem when everyone is essentially in an escape room filled with spikes. During one round, I was part of a group dropped into an automated level called Don’t Move. Which didn’t trigger properly with four people. Until one of the four killed both of the flying koopas needed to kick off the mechanism. At that point, we all were trapped in the initial area.
There are definitely ways to make Super Mario Maker 2’s multiplayer experience better. More Coursebot slots for downloaded courses would be nice. Maybe some way to randomly go through ones you have downloaded locally with friends. A way to choose which course you go through when engaging in Network Play would be great, since there are plenty clearly designed with one person in mind that fail when multiple people show up. Perhaps some way to choose to play based on network strength. Of course, some of these issues may be alleviated when the ability to play with friends online is added in. It seems like Super Mario Maker 2 multiplayer could take a bit more time.
Super Mario Maker 2 is available for the Nintendo Switch.