Real Talk By: Ms. Throwback
There was a good amount of hype around the release of Nintendo’s latest title Super Mario Maker for the Wii U when it was first announced. Many people compared it to high-profile games franchises that have had vast success including PlayStation’s exclusive Little Big Planet series which also allows the player to create and share their own levels. While Super Mario Maker is at its base a side scrolling platform title in which the player can create levels, that is where the similarity to any other title ends. Mario has always had something that other platformer titles haven’t and that is a vast array of interactive items, enemies, power ups, and secrets. Let’s face it, every title in existence today some how came to being because of the original Mario title. I might get some slack for that but let’s just be Legit, it’s true. Not only has Nintendo invented Mario, they have reinvented him, and now they have put the tools in the player’s hands to do whatever they please.
When you first pick up the title there are a limited amount of items and tools to use while creating your levels. To unlock more tools and create more sophisticated levels, the player must wait a nine-day period. This is actually nice because it gives the creator time to tinker with the simple tools before moving onto something more complex. The player can make their way through several levels that have been created by Nintendo themselves, or by other players online. There are 60 tools for players to use in their levels which is plenty to go from basic creation, to master Mario Maker in just a short period.
Regardless of the limitations initially, the player has the choice to create their level using the layout from the original Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, or New Super Mario Bros. U. Enemies behaviors, physics, and game play mechanics change according to which layout the player is using so a play-through of the level you create for original Super Mario Bros. can feel quite different from one you create using New Super Mario Bros. U. The player can switch between layouts with the simple press of a button at any time and begin game play from anywhere in their created level to see which game mechanics are working and which ones are not.
Even while using the first tools provided the player can create vastly interesting dynamics to their levels. Stacking spring boards on top of each other makes them bounce about the screen, Mario can pick these up mid jump and toss them onto another springboard to reach a platform far away. While Nintendo would most likely never do this in an official Mario title, here anything goes. Half the fun of playing other people’s levels online is the intricate and insane things that people are accomplishing with even the most limited of tools. The element of surprise at these level creations goes far beyond anything I could have expected or imagined when the title was announced. You may hit a secret block, and while you would expect a 1up shroom to come out just in the nick of time, a flying koopa comes out instead, killing you instantly. You might see an arrow pointing you down through a tunnel system of someones design, but when you come out the other end you fall into the vast abyss of lava that awaits you.
One of my biggest worries with the title was the concern of how I would find created levels that I actually enjoyed without them being beyond ridiculous to beat. I love a difficult challenge but there is a fine line between difficult, and near impossible. Thankfully the remedy lies with online players themselves. Creators and their levels are ranked by other players online and the top designs can then be accesses. This simple of fool-proof method keeps the rankings fresh and ever-changing. Essentially there is a new Mario game to play everyday you put this title into your Wii U. The only limitation to Super Mario Maker is the limitations players put on themselves. Anything and everything in the Mario universe is ranked according to player preference which makes finding fun, difficult, and exciting new levels a breeze. This game is all about the community that plays inside of it, never have I seen such fresh takes on level design. The only complaint I have with designing levels is that players cannot place checkpoints throughout which means they have one life to complete sometimes vastly difficult designs. Even the original Mario gave us checkpoints!
There are several ways to gain you own ideas for creation. One of them is a ten life challenge where the player is given ten lives to complete ten levels at a time. There are 68 levels in total for this mode. Most of the levels, which are designed by Nintendo, showcase some basic concepts to give beginning creators ideas for their own levels. Some of the levels are remixed versions of already existing ones or showcase puzzle aspects that have to be completed before moving forward. Depending on the player’s skill level, this mode can be finished in a short period. The point of this mode however is not to create a particular challenge to the player, but to showcase what level creation is capable of by using the most basic Mario dynamics. You can also use the levels that Nintendo provides to start the creations process in this mode. Start with the level that they have completed for you, and add or subtract what you prefer to get you started.
As if the tool setup and creation wasn’t enough, Nintendo has also allowed us to wear custom costumes, from the squid in Splatton, to Bowser, to a Goomba, it’s not always Mario you’re going to be playing as. They also have a custom sounds board. Don’t want your coins to make the coins sound? No problem, each coin can make a cheering sounds instead which also shoots confetti and rockets rainbows across the screen.
The online community means this game has no end in sight for what is possible and the amount of fun that can be had from the title. While there is a concern about why players cannot offer checkpoints, and why you can’t filter people on your friends list who have created levels of their own, they are small dislikes to a game that is ingenious in almost every other way. I have played this game almost every night since it’s release and I haven’t become bored yet. The creation is simple, the user interface is flawless, the level designs of the community or intuitive. This game has it in the bag.
Super Mario Maker Gets:
5 Out of 5
+Unique Gameplay and Style is limitless
+Interface and Tools are simple and intuitive
+Fantastic Sound and Music
+Interesting costume additions
+Filtering of online content
+Addictive game play
-Unable to place checkpoints during creation
-No filtering of friends list