Super Mario Maker 2
Image: Nintendo Life

Although Nintendo seems to have largely forgotten about it, Super Mario Maker 2 still has its fans. Indeed, so it should; it's a remarkably accessible creative tool for users to turn the Mario levels of their dreams into a reality with an incredibly intuitive UI and toolkit that built on the foundation of the remarkable Wii U original.

As we reported recently, one creator by the name of Metroid Mike 64 has taken the core concept of Super Mario Maker 2 and gone to the very extreme, crafting what is effectively a full Mario campaign complete with 40 courses spread across eight worlds.

Describing the gameplay as "all classic Mario", Metroid Mike 64 strove to create what he felt would be an authentically "Nintendo" campaign, going so far as to unofficially label it 'Super Mario Bros. 5'. If you want to play it for yourself, just go ahead and copy the ID code from the below Twitter embed (you'll need a copy of Super Mario Maker 2, of course!):

Note. That first alphanumeric is a zero — 0G9-XN4-FNF

We've been playing through Metroid Mike 64's creation over the past few days and have been having an absolute blast with it. It's clear that the approach here was to pay homage to the classic 2D Mario titles from the '80s and '90s, including themed worlds, bonus levels, branching pathways, and more. The levels feel both sprawling yet intricately curated, with traps, items, and enemies perfectly placed to ensure that the gameplay flows at a great pace yet also provides significant challenge as you progress.

We recently spoke to Metroid Mike 64 to get some insight into the creation of this 'Super Mario Bros. 5'. We found out what difficulties he came across during the seven-year project, how he's found the user feedback so far, and whether he thinks Nintendo will ever create another "traditional" 2D Mario title again.

Below that, we also highlight four of our favourite levels from the game so far and get a bit of insight into the creation of each one...

Nintendo Life: Upon unveiling your creation, you mentioned that the work started back in 2015. What inspired you to create what is effectively an entire 2D Mario campaign?

Metroid Mike 64: I always wanted to create a Mario game since I was a little kid. I used to doodle courses in a notebook at school. When Super Mario Maker was released, it was a dream come true. I began creating courses with the intention that they would be part of a much larger game. But it really wasn’t until the world creator update released on Super Mario Maker 2 that my dream could finally become reality.

The majority of the game was created from the Super Mario World template with some Super Mario Bros. 3 sprinkled in for good measure. It also seems you actively avoided the New Super Mario Bros. U aesthetic. What was the reason behind this particular approach?

I avoid the newer New Super Mario Bros. U and Super Mario 3D World styles because I love the SNES/NES era too much. The Super Mario World & Super Mario Bros. 3 styles are just too nostalgic for me. I wanted the game to have the same feel as those games.

Super Mario Maker 2 - SMB5
Image: Nintendo

What was the most difficult aspect of this project? How did you overcome it?

The most difficult aspect of this project was to just let go and publish the darn thing already! I was trying to perfect each course, tinkering and playtesting constantly. My Super World was ready a couple of months ago but I felt like I needed to refine it further. It felt like the process would never end.

With Nintendo seemingly putting much of its focus on 3D Mario games of late, do you think there's an opportunity for another traditional 2D Mario game, and do you think NIntendo will ever make one again?

Yes. I believe Nintendo will make a new 2D Mario game some day, maybe as soon as next year along side the Mario movie (fingers crossed). New Super Mario Bros. U was excellent. I believe if the style of that game was switched to a more retro pixel style like Super Mario World, it would’ve been remembered more fondly.

'Super Mario Bros. 5' has gotten a lot of attention since you shared it on Twitter. How has it felt being able to finally share 7 years' worth of work with the world?

Metroid Mike 64: It feels great to finally get this project done and focus on other games. Sometimes I felt trapped, like if I stopped creating and would play another game, I may lose interest and shelve Super Mario Maker 2 for months. This year I focused on getting it done and completely avoided other games altogether. The response has been overwhelming. I may have to go back in and update some of the courses!

World 1 - Galoomba Gardens

Super Mario Maker 2 - Galoomba Garden
Image: Nintendo

Galoomba Gardens is the very first level you'll come across in the game. It serves as a great introduction and there's little here that's going to severely test the average gamer.

Having said that, its overall layout and pacing is definitely very different to your typical Mario title. An excellent start!

Here's what Metroid Mike 64 has to say:

"I wanted this course to be your basic level 1-1 while at the same time teach the player about hidden “?” blocks and that different colored pipes can be entered."

World 2 - Beanstalk Expressway

Super Mario Maker 2 - Beanstalk Expressway
Image: Nintendo

One of the few instances during the game that really flips the standard gameplay on its head, Beanstalk Expressway sees you rocket through the sky with a Power Balloon, dodging huge Bullet Bills along the way while iconic music from Super Mario Galaxy plays in the background.

It's a fun little jaunt that could have easily been overstuffed with enemies, but the restraint shown here makes for a thoughtful change of pace.

Metroid Mike 64, however, thought that some might come to dread this level:

"Originally named Beanstalk & the Balloon, then Beanstalk Bridge, this level eventually became the Expressway. I debated on whether or not to include the Power Balloon segment. Some may like it, others might dread it, so I made sure to make this course skippable so players can still continue with the game."

World 3 - Wendy's Battletank of Doom

Super Mario Maker 2 - Wendy's Battletank of Doom
Image: Nintendo

The level of creativity shown with the final World 3 level is truly special. It stands as one of the game's boss stages, ending in a showdown with Wendy O. Koopa. The level itself has been designed to depict tanks rolling across the stage, but despite the rather gimmicky aesthetics, moving through the course showcases the exceptional skill required to make it all fit together.

This is a true representation of the "classic Mario" gameplay that made the originals so special. Metroid Mike 64 is also pretty keen on this one:

"This is one of my favorites. It’s an airship course meant to look like a tank, using the conveyer belts as tank treads and moving platforms as the moving ground. Think it came out great and the gameplay is top quality."

World 4 - Hammer Jungle

Super Mario Maker 2 - Hammer Jungle
Image: Nintendo

Hammer Jungle is where the difficulty in 'Super Mario Bros. 5' really starts to ramp up. Blocks hiding Hammer Bros. are scattered throughout and there's a real sense of verticality with the climbable beanstalks.

It also ends in a pretty cool "boss fight", though Metroid Mike 64 has mentioned that a revision of the level may be on the cards, as he believes it disrupts the flow of the game:

"I released this early on the original SMM. The gimmick is that there are hammer brothers hidden within certain blocks. It’s a risk/reward thing so it makes you second guess whether or not to even hit a block. There’s a boss at the end that I feel disrupts the flow of the game. This course was originally meant to be the end course of one of the worlds before the Koopalings were added. This is one of the courses on my list that I will eventually go back a fix up a bit more."

So there you have it! Those are just a small handful of our favourite levels so far, and we're itching to get through the rest of them as soon as we can. Be sure to try out 'Super Mario Bros. 5' if you get a chance; we reckon it's a very solid take on what a new "traditional" 2D Mario title could look like in 2022. Now the ball's in your court, Nintendo... Make the 2D Mario title we're all waiting for, please!

Have you given Metroid Mike 64's course world a shot? What do you make of it? Have you made one of your own? Let us know!