A new generation of gamers are being introduced to the time-tested 2D plat-former in a whole new and very creative way. Super Mario Maker was released about a month ago and over one million stages have been uploaded to the network for the whole world to play.
Personally I have enjoyed being creative with games like Little Big Planet in the past and with a property such as Mario that is so well-known and understood, this seems like a great merging of the creative and the familiar and for the most part it’s spot on.
Nintendo has given players combinations never before seen in traditional Mario games. You can make almost any enemy bigger by “feeding” it a mushroom, or frankenstein two enemies such as a turtle and a chain chomp together, giving you a turtle with a chain chomp riding on it’s back. Pretty cool stuff!
Mario Maker is not without it’s faults however. There are a number of limitations and major tools not currently included in this primary build. Check points being the biggest omission. This can force certain level styles over others. If you are concerned with players completing your stages you will lean towards stages that are perhaps a bit easier or offer recovery routes to help the player if they fall. If you make a stage that has its toughest challenges further on in the stage, players will likely give up after several attempts.
I found other limitations in the size of the stages. For the most part it’s not really an issue, but if you want to build a tall stage or a tower style stage you will find the height limitation stopping you. As for stage length, it’s pretty average compared to most released Mario 2d stages with options to use warp pipes and doors to move the players around. One can argue that limitations in general force people to find creative solutions to work around problems, I’d agree but only to a point, if you have the memory to allow bigger stages, then the game should.
Mario Maker utilizes a play to unlock system, forcing players to exhaust the basic tools before unlocking a new set of goodies to play with as well as flooding stages with basic material blocks to help the unlocking process along. It will be a short while until you have unlocked the medium amount of tools you to which you will have access. This is a gamification of game making, and is a neat idea and again reflects Nintendo’s desire not to overwhelm it’s budding Mario Makers.
It is recommended that players familiarize themselves with the plethora of stages available online and the ones created by Nintendo to aid you in your own creations. You will see things you would have never thought of on your own. These modes come in the form of a 10-Mario challenge, Nintendo designed stages, and the 100-Mario challenge, which pits the player against selections of stages designed by the community.
The easy and normal 100-Mario challenge shouldn’t pose too much of a struggle for most Mario enthusiasts but the expert level does live up to it’s name and Nintendo’s system for selecting difficult stages do this job well. You will likely find yourself “holding select” to skip many stages that are as close to trolling as one can design in this game. Which brings me to an interesting choice Nintendo made. When you are ready to publish your new creation, part of the condition is that you have to defeat your own stage before it can be uploaded for the unsuspecting masses. This prevents really unbeatable stages from popping up on your screen and is a feature other games like Little Big Planet should think about adopting.
The graphics hold true to the original games they come from, with the exception of shadows. Some people had a dislike for the shadow design choice when Super Mario Maker was announced but I would be surprised if it’s noticed anymore. When designing a stage you can easily swap between four famous Mario game skins; Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Brothers 3, Super Mario World and Super Mario HD (Wii U). Depending on which skin you choose will affect the abilities Mario will have when playing through the stage, for instance, Super Mario HD allows ground pounding, propeller mushroom and spin jumping. The interface works well though it can be a bit confusing in the beginning, a simple graphic style with some of Nintendo stylization is pleasing enough to the eye.
All the sounds you would expect from a game that draws from the Mario universe are here and each stage is accompanied by it’s signature music. While creating a stage there is music that plays in the background and as you draw and place items into your creation the game turns that into music, this can be fun to play with. Also you have the ability to record samples of sounds or your voice. You can have those sounds trigger in the stage as well as built-in flourishes not normally found in Mario games that can be distracting and out-of-place, but that’s Nintendo showing it’s playful side.
Overall you get what is promised on the box. You can make most Mario stages you can dream up as well as exploring all the wild possibilities the Mario making community can conjure. This is a game that makes the best use of the game-pad to date and I doubt there will be another title released for the Wii-U that makes better use of the game-pad than this one. The fact that you can experience everything this game has to offer without turning on your television is a feature I do enjoy as I do multitask and having a favorite show play while designing away is a combination I enjoy.
If you like creating, level design or the idea of messing with the norms of the Mario universe, you will mostly likely love this title, and the over one million Mario stages, and counting, will keep any Mario fan busy for quite sometime.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Wii U code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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