Super Mario Maker ReviewJoe Green
Pixels Maketh The Mario
For every kid who grew up in the 80s and 90s with a fervent love for Nintendo games and a flair of I could do that better creativity, Super Mario Maker is the opposite of dry in Kirbys dream-land.
At long last, Nintendo has given us the ability to tap into our own imaginations and create our own Mario masterpieces. It seems like an obvious choice and a natural step in pleasing the market, given its adoption of modding in todays culture. But the real mastery in Nintendos offering, is the process of making those levels. The experience is completely intuitive and instantly responsive, unlike the process of modding or development, meaning that making levels is every bit as fun as playing them.
At first, Maker offers the player a simple list of creation tools. This is just enough to get to grips with the basic mechanics of the game. It may seem like a frustrating hindrance, but given the plethora of ways to create unique, interesting, clever or demanding levels, the basis you are given is more than enough to get started.
As the tools expand over coming days, it becomes apparent that being given the full suite all at once, would have been over-bearing on one hand, and wasted on the other. Its an important step in getting the most from the options available to you.
Creation is a pleasure as the interface is simple and immediately responsive; allowing the player to quickly hop back and forth between input and testing their results. Marios movement can be tracked by way of a ghost too, meaning that blocks can be placed with precision to determine the best location for a platform after a long-reaching jump. Its just one example of the clever and intuitive interface offered by Nintendo.
Once levels are created, the player can upload it for the world to play and experience. Before doing so, the creator must complete the level, which is an absolutely essential step in ensuring the integrity of all levels online, as you can be certain that everything on offer is possible giving meaning to the determination of those trying to complete them.
And try they must, as a host of the levels available online are brutally difficult. The experience at times can be akin to a much-lauded indie game, Super Meat Boy. This game was heavily-inspired by Super Mario Bros and the irony and beauty of this becomes apparent when players have created Super Meat Boy inspired Mario levels of their own.
This kind of flair and creativity offered by player-made levels is exactly the charm that Super Mario Maker has to offer.
In ensuring that players worldwide have the opportunity to play your levels, there is a game mode called 100 Mario Challenge. This gives the player a random selection of player-made levels in varying levels of difficulty. The player has 100 lives to successfully complete a world generated of these levels, with a reward normally offered on completion. The player can then rate and comment on those levels, if they so choose, once completed.
In doing so, the creators recognition (via medals) increases, giving them the option to upload more levels. This gives the game some purpose to creating levels and in turn avoids the servers becoming saturated with poorly made levels. A simple and effective system.
Recognition, or self-gratification is also however the games only real problem. Creating a well-made level is a pure joy and seeing it being played and commented on provides a great deal of self-gratification. But beyond this however, Super Mario Maker doesnt offer much in the way of encouragement to continue creating and playing. In some respects, the game does seem somewhat shallow, whereby you may feel yourself at first enraptured, and quickly thereafter looking for more.
The daily increase in tools available and abundance of user-levels online certainly goes some way to improving the potential longevity of the game. But something makes that longevity feel short-lived.
Personally, I feel the ability to share not only levels, but complete worlds would improve this. Then, the likes of 1 UP lives would have more purpose. Additionally, the plethora of online levels is somewhat diminished when theres not many options offered to filter them. The ability to search by name, filter by level type and creators designated difficulty level would be one step further forward in this regard. Difficulty in locating the best levels does seem to be a common gripe amongst players to date.
Meaningful longevity aside (and this may become an area which is improved via updates in future), Super Mario Maker is a charming and crazy game, which brings world-building to one of the worlds most loved game series. As would be expected, the way its implemented by Nintendo is perfectly intuitive, living up to Nintendos expectation of excellence.
If you have a Wii U sitting gather dust under the TV, you really have no excuse not to pick up Nintendos best game of the year.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.