Have you ever wanted to be a game designer? Have you ever wanted more of a challenge from a Mario level? Want to give your family and friends new reasons to hate you? Well with Super Mario Maker, all of that is possible and much, much more.
People have long used different software packages and emulators to create levels of monstrosity for the popular Nintendo title “Super Mario Bros.”. However Nintendo’s latest offering from their moustached mascot brings these tools to the common folk in a charming and easy to use interface.
The only real issue I had with this title is early on and very noticeable and that is the time it takes to unlock tools. Being that this is a game about crafting Mario levels, I was excited to dive in and build something with everything at my disposal, but this was not the case in Super Mario Maker. At the time of writing, different items, tools and skins are unlocked with a combination of Time and number of blocks placed.
I can understand they don’t want to overload people, especially new players, but I could see this being better implemented behind an optional tutorial. Part of the fun for me was experimenting with all the different tools at your disposal to find the best way to challenge people with my maps. Luckily though, this hiccup does not last long.
With everything unlocked, you will truely marvel at how much is at your command and how much flexibility the game gives you with regards to the level’s design. Whether it’s a carbon copy of a classic Mario stage with some new twists, a Rube Goldberg machine level that plays itself or rendition of a Super Meat Boy level that’s designed to test your mental capability in the face of constant death, Super Mario Maker is well equiped for the scenario and you are rarely limited by anything but imagination.
This is in no way hindered by the games interface, which is intuitive and easy to use. It’s as simple as using the WiiU gamepad to drag and drop items on to a grid and assemble the level between start and end points. A little imagination goes into the interface as well, with simple things like magic mushrooms causing enemies to grow larger, to a simple shake of an item changing it into something new and sometimes unseen in Mario games.
For each level you make, you can skin the game to one of four unique mario styles. Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World or New Super Mario Bros., each one giving you access to the abilities and items present in each game. This adds a new dynamic to map building as some creations will be easy to clear in one format and nigh impossible in another. The combining mechanic allows you to mix items and enemies together for new unseen challenges as well, like a stack of three giant winged Bowsers topped with a cannon that fires homing bullet bills…I’m not cruel.
Once you are happy with your stage and have fine tuned it to your liking, you can send it out on to the internet where people can play and comment on it. So as to not be inundated with levels that are impossible to complete, uploading a level requires you to beat it yourself first. This feature is great because it means no matter how difficult a level is or seems to be, it is not impossible to finish. This is also a great way to learn new techniques for stage construction as a world full of people’s imaginations are at your fingertips.
As with most first party Nintendo titles, the game also supports Amiibo figurines. Each figurine is used to unlock a costume for the mystery mushroom tool, allowing you to powerup into an 8 bit version of an amiibo character rather than a larger mario. While purely aesthetic, this is great if you are building a themed level (ie. A metroid inspired level that you can play as 8-bit samus) and will carry over for people who download your levels even if they don’t have the amiibos or costumes themselves. It’s worth noting too that these costumes can be unlocked through normal play as well, for those without access to the Amiibos.
Included in the release is two other modes which tend to be forgotten are the 10 mario challenge and the 100 mario challenge. In the 10 Mario challenge, you are given 8 Nintendo created courses and 10 lives with which to complete them. And in the 100 Mario challenge you are given the same premise with 100 lives, but the courses are from a pool of popular courses uploaded by other Makers. The soundtrack is a small but nostalgic mix of familiar mushroom kingdom tunes, however it would have been nice to have some form of sound select feature given the large scope of audio in a series that has been around for decades.
All around, Super Mario Maker may be frustratingly slow to start but evens out into a very robust tool and very fun experience. The menus are easy to navigate and the system is simple and intuitive. It wont make you the next Miyamoto, but will still make you feel like the God of this legendary franchise, if just for a little while.