Super Mario Maker gives the player ultimate control

By Franklin Mejia, Staff Writer

Super Mario Maker is one of the only games of its kind that allows the gamer to have control over multiple settings and virtually create their own world.
Super Mario Maker is one of the only games of its kind that allows the gamer to have control over multiple settings and virtually create their own world.

This year, instead of a mainstream Mario game, Nintendo unveiled a new version of a Mario game. Instead of the regular run and jump style of game, Nintendo decided to make a create-your-own-levels type of game. Now the player is the creator.

So there’s a couple of features that come with this game.

Creating Levels
Depending on what a player wants out of Super Mario Maker, the level creation may be the meat of the game experience. It’s incredibly simple to use, and even the most random placement of objects can result in something fun and engaging, a testament to Mario’s slick original gameplay.

From Mario’s 8-bit adventures to the sleek 3D models of New Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Maker gives players a wide array of tools to create, really, whatever they want. Unlike other “create a level” games, Super Mario Maker never seems to hold players back in terms of memory limitations. Nintendo built in clever ways to customize a player’s stage. Want huge enemies? Drop a Mushroom on them. It’s that extra Nintendo charm that makes level creation feel special. With the addition of sub-areas and door warps, levels can be almost as unlimited as players want them to be.

A common complaint is that the game does not give players enough to work with, and while there certainly are a good number of themes, blocks, and enemies, there are also a few glaring omissions, including anything related to Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA) and any of the Game Boy Mario titles, among the checkpoints and sloped hills of Super Mario World. There’s a high certainty that DLC will correct at least some of these omissions, but that’s still a bummer.

Still, once all objects are unlocked (yes, players have to unlock the objects in tiers, or wait days and days), players will have free reign to make whatever sort of Mario level they’d like. It’s here that the player’s creativity matters far more than the tools available. It is a true joy to just play around in the level creation, and is empowering to players of all ages and skill sets.

Players can change the time limit, but cannot remove it, and there are three speeds of scrolling levels, though they cannot scroll vertically (which is a shame). A small complaint is that each theme has a song that is tied to it, and these cannot be customized.

Something I hope Nintendo can expand on in the future is giving players more tools to create a better sense of world and story. Letting players design their own mini-world maps for instance, or giving players a scene creation mode to choose which character Mario saves in the end would add some needed variety in personality.

After years of Nintendo’s insistence of ignoring online gaming, Super Mario Maker, along with the latest iterations of Smash and Mario Kart, plunges deep into online territory. The results are nothing short of magical.

Players can play through sets of random player uploaded levels (with mixed results), browse the most popular levels, and search for specific levels and creators. Like any game that has deep online components, Super Mario Maker’s fun factor will be largely driven by the energy and creativity of its community. As of the writing of this review, there already seems to be an endless variety of levels floating around, from the controversial (and fascinating to watch) “auto” levels, intense “kaizo” challenge levels, music-centric levels, levels themed after other games, such as the Legend of Zelda or Metroid, levels clearly designed by beginners, and levels clearly designed by trolls.

Overall, the online levels are varied enough to feel balanced and fresh, and it becomes addicting to play through as many as possible, despite the occasional hiccup. 

Players can initially upload ten levels at once, and can unlock larger capacities depending on how they fair in the public eye (how many players star their levels). Unfortunately, the game may suffer a bit from that age old online problem of popular items being the only items visible. Nintendo places an emphasis on playing random levels through the 100 Mario Challenge, which somewhat solves the issue. It’s a difficult balance to find, and for an initial effort, Nintendo ultimately pulls it off.

It’s All in the Details
Super Mario Maker oozes that fantastic retro fan service Nintendo has been capitalizing on lately and I love every bit of it. The 8-bit and 16-bit graphics, while not exactly 100% authentic, are wonderful to behold in HD, and the newer themes (like Super Mario World’s Ghost House) are excellently translated into the older games’ graphics. The New Super Mario Bros. graphics may not appeal to everyone, but it’s a blast to transition from one to the other in a flash while playing online.

Super Mario Maker allows players to connect the game with Nintendo’s Amiibo figures to unlock new “outfit” power-ups to play around with, from Luigi to Shulk and everyone in between. Playing the 100 Mario Challenge also unlocks these outfits, which will most likely be how players gain access to them. Each outfit comes with its own set of sound clips and victory music, which adds a bit of that Nintendo flair fans adore. It would be nice if Nintendo went a bit further with these outfits, though, adding some gameplay variety between them.

Super Mario Maker has several flourishes that align it with Nintendo’s playful SNES classic Mario Paint, including a hidden fly swatting minigame that many players will not even recognize as an allusion, proving Nintendo’s willingness to provide a detailed, full package of fun.

No Multiplayer
Mario Kart and Smash thrive on multiplayer, and it’s that communal engagement which ultimately keeps players coming back years later. It would be unfair to dock points from Super Mario Maker for “not having multiplayer options,” but something in the way of a versus or co-op mode would add immense longevity to the game, whether it be split-screen versus races or something akin to the New Super Mario Bros. franchise co-op.

Obviously, the community-built levels will continue to flood in, refreshing the game, and playing Super Mario Maker with friends, both building and exploring, is extreme fun, but it still feels like Nintendo missed a great opportunity here.

Final Thoughts
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so in tune with Mario and the Mushroom Kingdom, and this is the key to understanding why Super Mario Maker is so great: Nintendo has successfully breathed new life into their near ancient franchise in a way that is appealing to almost everyone. Super Mario Maker’s online features plant Nintendo firmly into the twenty-first century, and unlike, for example, Super Mario 3D World, which is great fun but somewhat shallow, players will return to Maker again and again.

Super Mario Maker is the ultimate celebration of the history of Mario and a love letter to Mario’s (and Nintendo’s) legions of fans. It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s solid, and loads of entertainment. It may just be Nintendo’s greatest Wii U game.

Not since Mario Galaxy have I craved a Mario game, thought about it at work, had visions of Mario in my dreams (not really). While Nintendo pushes to keep Mario Kart and Smash relevant year after year, Super Mario Maker is humble, quaint, and effortless.