There’s a good reason professionals are paid to create games. Super Mario Maker gives you the tools to create all the Mario stages of your wildest dreams, your imagination the only thing holding you back. It turns out though, that your imagination probably doesn’t stretch that far. At least that’s the impression I got after spending a good amount of time playing through countless user-made levels on the game’s online database.
It’s too easy to stuff stages full of huge amount of enemies, backed up by little-to-no structure. It’s difficult to create levels that flow or give a sense of adventure, discovery or even some kind of ingenuity. This isn’t an issue with the game, but an issue with players imaginations. I’m speaking based on my own experience of levels I’ve created and stages I’ve played. Of course, sometimes you will come across a stage that takes your breath away. It is amazing what some people have made with Super Mario Maker. There are levels that take on whole themes, somehow play a whole song (such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller) as you make your way through and ones that really make the most out of the unique abilities of each of the four styles of Mario game present in the title.
Levels can be created based on the original Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. U. Each style not only changes the aesthetics and soundtrack, but also brings in the unique features of each. You can wall jump in a level made in the New Super Mario Bros. style for example. The physics remain intact for each style, too, which adds another layer of detail to the game. Seriously, the amount of different types of stages you can make is incredibly varied – the sky’s the limit. You can do stuff that was never in the original games, too. Want Bowser Jr. riding a giant Wiggler that laughs when you see it? No problem. You can drop in enemies not from the original games, too. Sad that a certain item or enemy wasn’t in the original game? No need to worry any longer.
You can throw amiibo into the mix, too, which give you costumes of that character for use in any stage made in the original Super Mario Bros. style. These alternate costumes liven the game up even more, on top of its WarioWare-esque presentation. There are loads of extra costumes to unlock, and the best part? You don’t even need to buy amiibo to get a lot of them. There are some hilarious cross-promotion costumes such as the Baby Metal trio of vocalists, a Mercedes Benz car and Shaun the Sheep to use. There’s something awfully fun about going through a standard Mario level playing as a character who’s not from the series. The level creation tool is very easy to understand, but with plenty of little tricks up its sleeves that can make level-design even more involved and intuitive. It’s smart, slick and fun.
If making stages ain’t your thing, however, there is still plenty to get on with in Super Mario Maker. There are plenty of stages made in-house to get on with that showcase a lot of the wackiness you can achieve in the game. Or, if player-made stages are your thing, you can head online and play your way through any stage that catches your eye or choose the 100 Mario challenge. This lets you play through a number of different player-made stages based on the difficulty level you chose. Normal stages are good fun, but trying this mode on hard mode is ludicrous. There’s good hard, and there’s difficult for the sake of it.
If you had made a level though, share it online, then the game will tell you how many people have attempted to complete it, total success rate, and the fastest time anyone has finished it. You can give or receive medals and comments too, in a true, captivating online environment. Unfortunately, you will find your stage getting deleted off the online database if they haven’t been played, completed or enjoyed enough in a seemingly very short space of time. It’s a frustratingly mean thing on Nintendo’s part to delete stages you’ve put good time into because they haven’t met certain, vague criteria. Imagine the upset it will cause children, excited to see people playing their creation, only for it to be stricken from the records. Poor show Nintendo.
Super Mario Maker is a great, fully featured game that encourages imagination and playfulness, but one that carries a mean streak in deleting stages you’ve made because people haven’t gotten the chance to see or play them.