Nintendo finally allows the player to become the creator in Super Mario Maker, providing gamers with one of the easiest and enjoyable means of creation ever seen in gaming.
As one of the larger games releasing this year for Nintendo, there’s a lot riding on the success of Super Mario Maker. A game that focuses solely on the creation and distribution of levels made within the style of four different Super Mario games (Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros.) sounds like a dream come true to longstanding platforming aficionados, but Nintendo has taken steps to make this a standout experience that’s only possible on the Wii U. Despite being flawed in some ways, it’s still a worthwhile experience that gamers will enjoy.
Upon booting up the game, users are immediately going to be introduced to the eloquent, yet simple design behind the entirety of Super Mario Maker. Players are given a brief tutorial on how to go about placing objects within each stage, and it’s a rather straightforward challenge for those familiar with the franchise. What’s sure to strike many as odd, however, is that all of the tools aren’t initially unlocked right from the get-go; instead Nintendo has opted to lock them behind a real-world timer.
This content gate of sorts is put in place to help gamers become acquainted with the intricacies of each enemy, stage type, effect, and power-up. It seems like a logical assumption that, in order to reap the best crop of online levels for the game from its user base, Nintendo would want gamers to “learn how to paint a fence before building a house”. What the developers failed to realize is that, most people, as fans of Nintendo, are familiar with how each enemy and stage type impacts gameplay.
People are aware of how Goombas act, or how a Cheep Cheep bobs up and down in the water. It’s almost secondhand at this point, which makes waiting nine days for all of the content to become available a bit of a damper on the initial experience. While it ensures that fans become intimately acquainted with new content in those days, it’s almost an annoyance. Fortunately, fans are able to manipulate the internal clock in the Wii U to gain items faster, although this workaround is a little bothersome.
That said, what does become available is worth sticking around for. Gamers are able to craft levels on par with those that Nintendo itself has delivered in the property’s 30 years of existence. Unsurprisingly, a large number of game reviewers haven’t seemed to lock down a meaningful vision for their levels, but this game is destined to be fleshed out by the dedicated fans.
More importantly, finding content to enjoy online isn’t a very difficult task. Nintendo organizes the most popular creators near the top, allowing access to the content that those users generate and upload. The cream of the crop can then be narrowed to feature only those that are regional and even those that are the top rated for the week, allowing access to a wealth of user-created content. Sadly, it’s not possible to search for friend’s content, although anyone can be followed once they are located – ensuring that future content is easily accessible.
Fortunately, those that just want to jump into the all-too-familiar platforming elements of Super Mario Maker are able to do just that as well. While player-created levels may take a little while to hit a consistent quality, there are a grand total of 68 stages that can be experienced in the ’10 Mario Challenge’ mode. As its name implies, players are given 10 lives to marathon through 8 levels, and doing so will provide players with templates for each Nintendo-approved level layout.
This is a fun mode, but it is admittedly short-lived, as it can be completed in one or two sittings. That’s where the 100 Mario Challenge comes into play, allowing gamers to tear through a medley of randomly selected, user-created courses. Players can trek through either the Easy, Normal, or Expert scenarios in this mode, each offering players 100 lives but an increase in challenge. Normal simply doubles the number of stages from 8 to 16, while Expert handpicks the most challenging stages that players have created thus far – although the latter mode allows those struggling on certain courses to skip them by holding the ‘-‘ button on the Gamepad.
Those that manage to conquer the mode across its various difficulties will be rewarded with a costume for Mario to wear. These costumes are only available in the 8-bit ‘Super Mario Bros.‘ level set, but they are made up of 100 different characters. Ranging from Pikachu and Yoshi to the likes of other bizarre and non-Nintendo additions, these characters can all be accessed via a power-up known as the ‘Mystery Mushroom’. Those that aren’t willing to trek through the 100 Mario Challenge can also simply touch their amiibo to the Wii U GamePad and those characters will unlock in the game, so anyone that’s already invested in their favorite figures won’t be waiting too long to access them in-game.
Super Mario Maker stands on its own because of its easy to use creation tools. Sharing a self-made level is a blast, and watching criticism and kudos pour in from other players is genuinely satisfying thanks to moderation from the Big N. Still, the lack of checkpoints can prove to be brutal in some of the more challenging worlds, and the inclusion of co-operative play would have made building and playing through these levels feel a lot more like a team exercise than a solo affair. Still, there’s always going to be a new level to play, a new puzzle to solve, and a new world to conquer for as long as Nintendo keeps the servers on. Truly, that’s saying something.
Super Mario Maker is available exclusively for the Nintendo Wii U on September 11, 2015.