Monday 19 August 2019

Super Mario Maker 2 review: Levels of genius

(Switch) ***** Age: 3+

Super Mario Maker 2
Super Mario Maker 2
Super Mario Maker 2
They Are Billions
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Do you fancy yourself as the next Shigeru Miyamoto? Even if you don't have a clue who he is, odds are you've seen, played or even adored his work as the creative flame of the Super Mario series. This sequel to the Wii U/3DS roll-your-own Mario indulges your wildest Miyamoto ideas, but dishes out plenty of pre-made entertainment too.

If you don't have a creative bone in your body, Super Mario Maker 2 comes stuffed with more than 100 levels of Mario goodness scattered across several ages of Miyamoto design, from the original SMB through to the 3D of Super Mario World. By turns fiendish, funny and instructive, they might just be some of Nintendo's best courses ever.

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When you finish with those, thousands of user-created levels await - though many are just guff, failing to grasp the essence of Miyamoto's simplicity. But sprinkled among the chaff can be found examples of brilliance the equal of Nintendo's invention.

If you feel inspired, then the level-builder mode teems with possibility, expanding on SMM1's objects, conditions and styles. A charming tutorial provides a gentle on-ramp for your imagination and soon you'll be placing blocks, enemies and hazards like a pro.

Things can get fiddly because the Switch console lacks the precision of the Wii U/3DS stylus system and is burdened with a more cramped interface. But this a chance to rub shoulders with Miyamoto, to test your own ingenuity and to enrol in a joyful school of game design.


They are Billions

(XO/PS4/PC) **** Age: 12+

They Are Billions

Not another zombie game? This one's different - a real-time strategy game in which to build a settlement that can withstand the onslaught of a zombie horde.

Its origins as a PC game loom large, practically demanding you attach a mouse and keyboard to your console so you can quickly click around the menus.

You gather resources, construct buildings and marshal defences in those breathless moments before the arrival of the "billions".

They Are Billions doesn't offer a warm welcome to newcomers - it can be nihilistically hard, lacks anything in the way of a meaningful tutorial and, played without a mouse and keys, is fantastically finicky. But TAB has a way of getting under your skin, such that even as the horde overrun your colony, you're thinking of ways to halt them next time.

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