Back in my Speccy days, I once tried "programming" a text adventure. I think it had about three locations in it, and each of them resulted in the player's death, and then I got bored.
I used to fantasise about my ideal game, and one way or another most of those fantasies came true, when games went open-world. I even used to imagine how cool it'd be to have DLC, years before DLC became a thing. So, you can blame me for putting that thought out into the universe...
Despite all this, I skipped the original Super Mario Maker on the Wii U and 3DS, because, by the point it came out, my Wii U and 3DS had been confined to The Bad Shelf. Oddly, it never even really appealed to me; it felt like one of those inessential Mario games, like Mario Paint or Mario Teaches Cross-stitch.
Now that I've spent a weekend with Super Mario Maker 2, I've realised I may have done a bad-wrong-thing.
Obviously, the heart of Super Mario Maker 2 is its construction mode - which allows you to run amok with a bewildering array of building options.
First selecting the visual style (which will also affect the sorts of things you can put in your levels) from a choice across the Mario eras - including Mario 3D World (albeit played out in a side-on plane) - you assemble the elements however you see fit.
You can modify the size of enemies, slap wings on them (or anything else), you can alter the conditions of how a level is completed (no jumps? No problem!), make a level that is impossible to complete, and do whatever you can to break the Mario formula apart like a soft-shelled Clancy.
I found it relatively easy to make a basic level, but perfecting one - landing upon that ephemeral Nintendo "feel" - was hard. The more build options I explored (they're all unlocked from the off) the more I struggled to create something "perfect". Rome, of course, was not built in a day... and the Roman builders didn't even have to contend with putting wings on the Colosseum lions.
Indeed, if you dive into the build mode first - even with its charming tutorial videos (which try to pump-up your imagination and creativity as much as they explain how everything works) - you'll likely be overwhelmed, both by the diversity of options, and the seemingly infinite ways in which you can deploy those options.
However, what has really surprised me about Mario Maker 2 is that there's a full Mario game here too - and in certain respects it's possibly the best Mario game in years. The 100-odd levels (here posited as "jobs" which will earn you the coins needed to rebuild Peach's recently-destroyed castle) demonstrate just what is possible with the building mode.
The tried-and-tested Mario formula is disassembled and remixed in ways that will twist your melon. The levels become more like puzzles than standard platform stages, as you battle their creators' imaginations. Some are harder than others (though the game pretty much allows you to cheat your way through them with the help of Luigi), some are more traditional than others, but all of them do something interesting with the available tools.
Super Mario Maker 2 is kind of brilliant, but not everyone is going to get the full experience. Some of us just aren't cut out to be game designers, and though you have to beat your own levels before being able to upload them for others to play, there's still a lot of rubbish out there. Indeed, its full potential is unlikely to be realised for some time.
There are also some genius creations - some amateur designers demonstrating as much ingenuity as Nintendo's own. However, to get the most out of the experience, you're going to need a Switch online account, and the jury is still out as to whether that's worth paying for.
For me, though, there would've been more than enough here even without the level creation suite and the online stuff. The 100-odd levels are honestly among the most original Mario stages ever designed - simply because they attempt something different with the formula (as you will too once you start playing around with the construction mode).
The short-ish length of the levels means that the story mode might not last you as long as a regular Mario game - and it is primarily there to inspire - but the constant surprise was welcome. Not least given how underwhelmed I was by New Super Bros. U Deluxe, with its blandly slavish homaging to the past.
Ultimately, however, Super Mario Maker 2 demonstrates the almost infinite flexibility of the Mario franchise toolbox.
SCORE: 84932483434134.9 out of 9.99999999999090901