Platform: Wii U
Super Mario Maker is a video game that we’ve been waiting for since Super Mario Bros. First came out thirty years ago. The objective of this game is simple: use a selection of items to make your very own Mario Level. If you don’t want to create, that’s not a problem: simply play through someone else’s levels that have been uploaded. As of this article there’s thousands of levels that range from very simple, to almost impossible.
You use your Wii U Gamepad exclusively in Super Mario Maker which works great for me, because the Fiancée and I share the TV so when she’s watching her shows, I can play on the couch. Creating levels is as easy as taking items and placing them on the grid paper with your stylus. Levels can be as simple or complex as you want and the only limit is your imagination. Initially the items available to you were only released in waves so you would have to wait 9 days for everything to be available to you. This has been fixed with a day one patch that makes all content available at once, but you have to play constantly for the content to be released “early.” Or you can just advance the internal clock of the Wii U forward a day each time until you unlock everything.
You can choose between 4 different Mario styles: Super Mario Bros, Super Mario 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. Each style has different gameplay mechanics that you can take into consideration when building your levels. For example, I had a running level where you hit springs to jump. This part was broken in the New Super Mario Bros because you can pick up the springs. I switched to classic Mario and it worked fine.
Once you’re satisfied with how your level is built, you can choose to upload it for other people to play. To make sure there aren’t any “impossible” levels out there, Super Mario Maker forces you to clear the level yourself before being able to upload it. This also ensures that you didn’t put anything into your level that can break the gameplay incidentally.
If you don’t like making levels, that’s not a problem as there are thousands of pre-made levels for your gaming pleasure. Some are made by Nintendo and others are made by fellow players. There are challenges that you can take to tackle each level or you can just choose specific levels to play. For challenges, you have the 10 Mario and 100 Mario Challenge. The challenge has you complete 8 stages with 10 lives or 16 stages with 100 lives. Every time you play, the levels are different. You can earn up to 3 extra lives in each level that you play.
Do you have Amiibos? Well you can use them in Super Mario Maker. Each Amiibo unlocks different sprites and content for your levels. I only opened up my 3D Classic Mario and I was greeted with a special power up that allows Mario to spin around and fly. Also I can unlock CRT mode which makes the screen look like the old TV of yore with scanlines and everything. The only issue is that some of the rare Amiibos like Little Mac and Villager will make it very difficult for players to have those sprites in the game as they’re the only way you can unlock the content. Nintendo has stated that they’ll be finding ways for fans to get their favorite sprite in the game, but that hasn’t been announced yet.
What I don’t like:
It’s hard to find things not to like about Super Mario Maker, but the one glaring issue is that you can’t categorize your levels or search by category. I would love to put my level under mazes or flag it as extra difficult so that players who hate super hard levels can avoid mine or make it really easy for others to find. The ranking of your level is determined by the number of stars people have given it. After you complete a level, you have the option to star it. Starring a level allows the creator to upload more levels (you can only upload 10 at the start) and it adds it to your favorites if you feel like playing it again sometime. While the system works in practice, it’s still hard to find newer levels and determine if a level is going to be good or not until you actually play the game.
What I do like:
The game is really simple and straightforward. You don’t need a degree in game design in order to develop levels, but if you are a game designer, you can make some really rad levels. Also with new levels being uploaded every day, you’ll have a really hard time running out of content. My hope is that most people keep coming up with original levels and don’t make lazy remakes of other popular levels. Also I like that I can use the Wii U Gamepad as a separate screen. Splatoon was a great game, but lack of extra screen prevented me from truly enjoying it because the TV was being used by someone else.
Super Mario Maker is a great game and I highly recommend picking it up. If you like Mario at all, you need to have this game in your library. This game should have been a launch title, but obviously hindsight is 20/20. What matters now is that this game is available to purchase and it will probably be one of the most influential Mario games of all time.