For thirty long years we have been partaking in the adventures of the portly plumber, across both three dimensions and the basic two we have been through some great adventures. However, over these thirty years we have also grown tired of the levels that the basic Mario experience provides, there are still some great levels across Mario’s history but we needed better, something more refreshing. To fix this tiresome issue Nintendo has brought us the idea which will change Mario for the better, with the ability to create our own Mario levels.
For years we have hoped to have the power to create our own Mario levels, to fill our desires for better content and Super Mario Maker delivers. If you can envision it, you can create it with this game, Nintendo has provided just about all the tools you could want to build your dream level. Want to build a maze? Go ahead. Want to create a nightmare of a level? You can do it. Want to go beyond the usual concepts offered by the core Mario experience? You have the power. Literally, if you can dream it, you can create it.
As you start the game you are given two options, either you can Create or Play. The core of Super Mario Maker is in creating levels and this is something truly does well. When you first start playing the game offers very little tools to play with, it focuses more on drip feeding you items rather than overwhelming you with too much at once, which I honestly appreciated. The game encourages learning to use the tools you have rather than rushing you to learn everything quickly, and this is helped by the nine day unlock system. By playing a certain amount each day you can unlock more tools, backdrops and themes which can be used to build better levels, the real problem here is the nine day unlock system which while it is a good idea for encouraging you to learn what you have, it really puts a damper on creativity. Thankfully, this can be overruled by playing with the internal clock on the Wii U which will help to unlock things at a quicker pace, this is annoying to do but I found it to be a less annoying then having to wait to unlock more, however I still would recommend spending some time with the tools you are given with each delivery to learn the ins and outs of each.
Once everything is unlocked there is a good variety of tools available to really make anything possible, there are sixty different items available when building your levels each offering the potential for varying gameplay options.
Nintendo has finally found a true reason for the Wii U’s Gamepad with Super Mario Maker, with an idea that would be next to impossible to operate on any other system the gamepad offers a shining light to the experience. The real meat of Super Mario Maker is handled on the Wii U gamepad, using the touchscreen you essentially draw your levels touching a spot on the screen to place a selected item. Everything about the creator is handled in this way, it is a simple matter of tap the tool you want and drag into position, Super Mario Maker offers one of the easiest and most refreshing creator tools I have come across and it is all thanks to the Wii U gamepad.
Super Mario Maker offers four different themes of which you can use to craft your own levels, each offers varying gameplay options and even varying tools. To tie in with the original games that are the source material in each theme you can only use items that were from that particular game, such as Yoshi can only be used in the Super Mario World or New Super Mario Brothers U themes. For general purposes it was really nice and a great aesthetic choice to keep the loyalty to the original game and what was on offer. It is a similar matter to certain power ups, where standard ones like the fire flower and mushroom are available across the board, other items like the feather and the propeller mushroom are only available to their source game.
Likewise, a similar idea carries over to the general gameplay, Super Mario Maker offers four very different themes from the series history including Super Mario Brothers, Super Mario Brothers 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Brothers U. Nintendo has not compromised and added new abilities to each style to deal with Mario’s evolution, the style in which each theme operates is exactly like the original game. If you want to build a level with lots of wall jump segments you have to use the New Super Mario Brothers U theme. Each theme offers varying gameplay features that are unique, offering reasons for the use of different themes when creating levels, each of these different varying gameplay options meant I was never bored when creating levels as there was always a different option that I could throw in to my creations.
A cool thing added in to the game is how Amiibo’s are utilized within the game, although they are only compatible with a single theme (this being the Super Mario Brothers theme) they are still nice for being able to craft a level around a specific character. By using an Amiibo it is possible to add a costume to your level, something that works similar to a mushroom, in which case you can tap your Olimar Amiibo to the gamepad and you can turn Mario into Olimar then use this to craft an interesting level that could fit around that character. This really adds to the potential for design with more than Mario being potential candidates for each level.
A personal favourite point I came across while playing with the creator was seeing how different enemies and items react with different scenery or commonly wings. There are no shortage of possibilities to discover, and the option to put whatever you wanted across the varying backdrops such as the Ghost House theme or Underwater was interesting. Underwater sections were by far the most intriguing, standard games offer little variance in the tools dropped into these sections, but here we got the power to place whatever we wanted and see how these varying tools would react. You can place whatever enemies you want into the underwater setting and they each have a different reaction to how they would work above water, it proved to be quite fun to experiment with the enemies and create levels that played with the skill sets of my enemies in a different environment.
Making levels quickly proved to be one of the biggest highlights of the experience, and it is satisfying building your own levels and then playing with them and seeing how well you fare. Regardless of the fact I built some of my creations even I struggled to beat them and this is where things truly become more fun. Super Mario Maker breaks away from the tradition of standard Mario games and removes the dull easy to beat side that the games mostly seem to cherish, and with the possibility to create what you want to play which in my case was smart and challenging, it perfectly accommodated.
However, as much fun as it is crafting your own designs and playing them, there is also a certain satisfaction in sharing your creations with friends and the world and seeing how they can have fun with what you built. Personally I found it better to get friends or family to come and play my levels and laugh as the struggled through my evil design, but even still uploading my creations for the world to play provides a good thrill even if I couldn’t watch their playthrough first hand.
Likewise there is also a thrill in playing the creations of other people. Who needs a tired story of chasing after a princess who gets captured every five minutes, the fun from this game stems from the levels created by others and seeing what their minds can conjure. If I am being honest there are many ideas from levels I played that I never would have considered, and taking influence from levels you play comes in handy in seeing what you can build for the future.
The community support in this game is the lifeblood, the levels created by other players help keep things refreshing and ensures the experience never gets dull. The wide community behind this game has created some of the most ingenious Mario levels ever conceived and a big point of stepping into a territory Nintendo themselves would never dare. It is safe to say as long as the community is backing this game Super Mario Maker will be a timeless classic and can be enjoyed for years to come.
The sheer potential with this game is remarkable, it is possible to create levels that are extremely different to what would be considered normal in a Mario game. You can build levels similar to classic Metroid, you can finally give Captain Falcon a proper adventure, and you can take Pikachu for a stroll. Super Mario Maker is truly a dream come true for those wanting a refreshing change of pace for Mario.
What a better way to celebrate a thirtieth anniversary then with Super Mario Maker, Nintendo has captured some of the biggest highlights of Mario’s thirty year history and has crafted a game that empowers the player. Moving forward, I wonder if Nintendo will learn from Super Mario Maker and take Mario in a direction that matches what Super Mario Maker has managed to offer. There is no way Mario is going away anytime soon and I see Super Mario Maker as a big part of people’s videogame playlists for a long time to come. This is Nintendo’s love letter to their beloved franchise and it is worth it.