There’s no denying that the Wii U has too many 2D platforming games, with Nintendo themselves representing the genre through a number of their franchises such as New Super Mario Bros. U, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Yoshi’s Woolly World before we even start considering third-party offerings like Rayman Legends and Shovel Knight. All of the aforementioned games are of a high quality, but it would be fair to say that the Wii U’s line-up of this genre is over-saturated. Why is it then, that there’s such a buzz surrounding Super Mario Maker?
To be honest, when the game’s existence was first leaked prior to E3 2014, I thought very little of the game – expecting it to be no more than a 3DS eShop title (no offence Pullblox) and it took me a whole year to show any enthusiasm towards the title because to be honest, I was feeling a little disenfranchised towards 2D Mario games after Nintendo released two New Super Mario Bros. games in the space of six months during 2012.
Then the Nintendo World Championships happened. During the final round of the festivities, Nintendo proudly displayed the level of creativity the game offers to a global audience and perhaps awakened a desire I’ve suppressed for a long time: the desire to be an absolute monster to people. Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels was an exercise in frustration because I was on the receiving end of the difficult levels, but what if I was the one making them? It’s a good thing I gave the game another chance, because this is the magnum opus of 2D Mario.
Upon loading up the game for the first time, players are immediately presented with the tools necessary to crack into spinning their own interpretation of Super Mario Bros. in the most user-friendly interface I have seen in a creative game to date; placing objects is as simple as selecting it from a menu and tapping it into your desired location. Considering Super Mario Maker‘s origin as an internal development tool, it should come as no surprise that it makes controlling the likes of Terraria feel like a headache in comparison. Even swapping between the vastly different graphical styles of Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. U is only a couple of effortless pokes away!
You’ll be able to see where the game really comes alive once you have successfully made a level and tested that it’s actually possible to complete, by uploading your level online for the masses to play! The feeling of loading up Super Mario Maker and being notified that people have not only been playing your stages but have “starred” them or left a comment is an incredible one. Nintendo have also rather cleverly locked the number of courses an individual can upload behind the number of medals they have accumulated through levels being starred; preventing an influx of poor quality levels. Should you find yourself in a creative rut and in need of inspiration, or you simply have a desire to see what cruelty humanity is capable of, you can jump online and play other peoples’ levels yourself before leaving a comment or rating, helping solidify a community feel to the game. If you can’t access the internet for some reason,
how the hell are you reading this review? you can also get a taste of what bizarre creations are a few touches away by playing the “10 Mario Challenge”, where you must overcome a series of pre-made levels, which is then complimented by the online “100 Mario Challenge” which adds a drastic number of available lives because…you’ll need them to endure the creations of other players!
My only concern with Super Mario Maker is that while the tools we’ve been presented with offer a large number of possibilities to play around with, you will quickly notice that a number of things are missing as well. While the majority of these omissions tend to be game-specific power-ups such as the Ice Flower, more puzzling though is the lack of course checkpoints, slopes and the option to have vines lead players to different planes. If Nintendo are planning on giving us these items down the line, I hope that they take a more Splatoon-style approach of drip-feeding us additional content as opposed to charging us for themed content packs that may enable us to make Super Mario Bros. 3-style stages with the frog suit or wear the penguin suit in New Super Mario Bros. U stages.
Since their launch last November, the large majority of games published by Nintendo have supported their interactive platform “amiibo”, with examples ranging from Super Smash Bros. allowing you to train AI and Code Name S.T.E.A.M. allowing you to play as Fire Emblem characters. My favourite use of amiibo so far however, is in Super Mario Maker.
Boasting support for over 50 amiibo – ranging from most of the Super Smash Bros. line of figures, Yoshi’s Woolly World‘s plushes and even a selection of the recently released Animal Crossing cards, tapping an amiibo into the game unlocks an 8-bit sprite of that character that can be used with the Mystery Mushroom power-up to play through stages as Link, Isabelle and even Wii Fit Trainer! If you have opted not to empty your bank balance in exchange for an assortment of figures however, these very same costumes – and more – can be unlocked at random by completing the game’s “100 Mario Challenge” a lot of times.
This addition of so many characters only serves to amplify the creative juice’s in players’ games, like when I received the inspirational thought of “What if Princess Peach was stranded in a zombie apocalypse?”, which resulted in a level you can play with the following code: 2F36-0000-0012-49B1.
With so much potential in the palms of our hands right now, a part of me both excited and worried about what the future might hold for the 2D Super Mario Bros. franchise – gimmicky power-ups aside, how will future games be able to justify their existence unless they do something beyond the realms of possibility in Super Mario Maker? This is the first time in a long time that I’ve been excited about the Mario franchise.