Super Mario Maker Preview: Worlds Of Fun


Last week, I was invited to a preview event in Toronto where Nintendo was showcasing some of their upcoming Wii U and Nintendo 3DS titles. I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts and impressions of these games in preview pieces throughout the week. We started with Yoshi’s Woolly World, continued with Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, snuck a look at Metroid Prime Blast Ball and took a look at Star Fox Zero earlier today. We come to my favorite of the event, saving Super Mario Maker for last.

Whenever Super Mario Maker isn’t playing on a Wii U GamePad or television screen currently in action, all other characters should be asking, “Where’s Super Mario Maker?” This stretch of a Simpsons reference highlights the amount of praise I have for Nintendo’s Kaizo-like editor in a box, which I cannot begin to lavish with positive remarks enough. Not only does it provide the experience of making and sharing Mario levels across several different generations, but offers a great number of pre-made challenges and levels to enjoy for yourself. Creativity, nostalgia, freedom of expression; Super Mario Maker has got it all!

That’s The Way You Need It

Simply put, the level editor of Super Mario Maker is bonkers. Pick a background base and go nuts! Drop Mario onto a cannonball, with the only means of safety across the entire stage all the way onto the finish flag is holding right to leap across oncoming cannonballs? You’ve got it. Want to make an NES level with Super Mario Bros. 3-specific enemies? They’ve been transposed and uniquely created throughout each of the following applicable games; Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. U.

With a simple erase and retool, you’re right back into the game!

Mario games of this 2/2.5D nature have been linear due to their level design structure. There is usually a sense of structure or theme that keeps the levels following an untold set of rules. Those rules are encouraged to be broken in Super Mario Maker, and by opening up even the basic design structures to allow for creative gameplay, such as choose-your-own-adventures or door puzzles, you effectively get to change what it means to play a platforming Mario game. That, to me, is even more important of a departure than throwing enemies of different universes together on a screen.

When it comes to trying to make a serious attempt at a level, though, Super Mario Maker wants you to throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. You learn through trial and error, and the game’s level editor makes it easy to progress your designer skills. Should you encounter a platform or gameplay instance that’s physically impossible to overcome during a test run, just press the Edit button and you’re immediately taken to a screen that shows your Mario movement to highlight any possible problems encountered. With a simple erase and retool, you’re right back into the game!

It’s not just a retread of former classics for Super Mario Maker; there are some new items to use, too. The Mystery Mushroom now allows you to transform into several different characters from the Nintendo catalog, including support from specific amiibo figures. Better yet, Nintendo has put means to unlock these bonus transformations by completing certain challenges, meaning you don’t have to spend money on physical DLC to unlock them. In a world where Nintendo has been implementing monetization schemes like that, opting out of that route will do wonders for the untold limits of gameplay.

Stepping Up To The Plate

When it comes to Super Mario Maker, something that goes a little unrecognized is that the game comes boxed with extra modes. You’re not just filling an empty box with wonder, here; 100 Mario Challenge Mode is also present. At the preview event, I only got to try a limited demo in the 10 Mario Challenge Mode, where you have 10 Mario lives in order to get through 10 different stages. Tomfoolery is abound, with a variety of different surprises seemingly at every leap and bound. Hidden blocks will send you to your doom. Dozens of Bullet Bills with send you to an early grave. Doors leading to empty air leave you hanging out to dry.

They’re not all Kaizo-level runs, as even some of the basic levels packed in are more of a showcase. Similar to “For Fun” and “For Glory” in Smash Bros., there are levels dedicated to throwing you quickly through oodles of coins, with turrets and shoes and pipes that shoot bonuses at you. Making the game challenging is often rewarding for thrill-seekers, but having a laugh is just as enjoyable.

Speaking of enjoyment, I had the immense pleasure of checking out the Nintendo World Championship runs. Packaged into the final game for everyone to try out for themselves, they are essentially the de facto examples of setting up for the unexpected. Plus, with the map editor, players are free to make them even crazier than what we’ve seen, allowing for the uploading of meta-levels that are adaptations of adapted Super Mario levels. Cutting off before I go into full Xzibit mode, an important point is that they give players an excellent piece of clay to start molding with.

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After leaving the preview event and I kept thinking about all the possibilities that Super Mario Maker provided, an off-putting thought entered my head; where can Nintendo go from here? I mean, we are talking about a community-based Mario game here, but when you give the tools to the players and they create marvelous, inventive, puzzling, difficult and even Mastercraft levels, what’s left for Nintendo to do? It could very well be the end of 2.5D Mario games, especially if it the tradition continues to Nintendo’s next console.

At this point, I would be kind of glad that Nintendo could decided to hand over those keys to their fans. They would still reign supreme in the 3D era, but Nintendo handing over sandbox control within the Mario (and similar Nintendo) universes is a show of faith, while opening up future titles to expand the amount of games permitted to join the editing universe. It’s a shame that this game couldn’t come out sooner to the massive audience of the Wii, as Super Mario Maker is the kind of game Nintendo fans have been waiting for. Even if they didn’t know it, come this September, they abolutely should.

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