It is hard to believe it has been 30 years since a little game called Super Mario Bros. came along and changed video games forever.
After three decades of games spanning multiple genres, Nintendo is doing something with Mario that is totally new and unique, yet familiar at the same time. Super Mario Maker is a new game for the Wii U that promises gamers the ability to create and design their own Super Mario levels! To many a gamer, this sounds like a dream come true. Does it live up to the hype, and is it a must own for owners of a Wii U console?
Essentially, Super Mario Maker grants the player the ability to design their own Super Mario Bros. levels, uploading them to the Internet for fellow gamers around the world to play. You, in turn, can do the same, playing levels that have been designed by other gamers.
The actual design process takes place in an easy to use interface, in which you are going to have access to limited level design tools and styles; you will gain more elements with the more levels you design. This requires someone designing levels to make use with what they have at first, in turn using everything and getting more experience designing levels before they can integrate more complex concepts into their stage designs. Stage elements can be made to interact with or enhance one another (for instance, you could have a warp pipe that emits Super Mushrooms, or even a Bullet Bill launcher shooting Cheep Cheeps!) There are many different concepts and combos here that are worth trying out, as anyone who plays the game will realize.
You can try out levels that were designed by other gamers in the 100 Mario Challenge, which lets you tackle a number of back-to-back levels (the number and style differs based on the difficulty level you choose). Similarly, you can play the 10 Mario Challenge, which lets you play levels designed by the programmers using the interface. These are great ways for you to learn more about the concepts and what people have been doing with designing their own levels. There are even some surprise unlockables to be had by playing through these modes.
The gameplay modes available in which you can design levels are Super Mario Bros. (original 1985 game), Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. (3 and World must be unlocked by creating levels across multiple days, along with use of the other design elements). The level styles that you can design are overworld, underworld, fortress, ghost house, and airship. You can even create ghost houses in the Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3 modes, as well as airships in Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario World, which allows you to do some pretty interesting things (only overworld and underworld are initially available, but the others can be unlocked through similar means to the other modes and methods).
At first, when it comes to uploading your levels, you can only upload 10 of them, however you can earn stars from people who like playing through what you upload. In turn, you can give them stars for the same purpose if you like their levels. This helps to bring in some instance of “quality control,” and the fact that someone must play through and complete their own level prior to uploading it means that no one can upload something that is truly impossible to beat. This helps to keep things interesting, and prevents the servers from being oversaturated with too many inferior and frustrating courses (though you will still be tested on more than a few occasions!)
That said, despite my overall satisfaction, I did have some issues with a few things, mainly in regards to what is available as far as customization options go. These were the primary things I took issue with that were not included in the game:
-No way to create overworld maps for a “series” of levels, like an ongoing world in the main games.
-Stages must always be ended the same way (you cannot make it so defeating a boss ends a level, for instance).
-Lack of diverse “boss” characters; you really only have Bowser and Bowser Jr.
-No option to create overworld “night” stages in Super Mario Bros. mode.
-No option to create a Bowser that can throw hammers in Super Mario Bros. mode.
-No option to change color palette of scenery/enemies/etc. in most modes/elements/etc.
-No Super Mario Bros. 2 Japan (AKA The Lost Levels) stage design elements for the Super Mario Bros. mode (different scenery, poison mushrooms, red Piranha Plants, etc).
-No Super Mario Bros. 2 USA mode for level design (as this was radically different, with its own gameplay mechanics and multiple playable characters, it is sorely missed).
-No Boom Boom or Koopa Kid boss characters in Super Mario Bros. 3 mode.
-The single biggest problem with the customization – the Frog Suit, Tanooki Suit, and Hammer Bros. Suit are not present in in Super Mario Bros. 3 mode.
-No Reznor or Big Boo boss characters in Super Mario World mode.
-No different colored Yoshis in Super Mario World mode (they all had different abilities in the original game).
-A number of items, boss characters, and other elements absent from the New Super Mario Bros. mode.
Note that all of this is subject to change, DLC down the road is always a possibility.
Despite some shortcomings, namely in the means of omissions of included items in the level design mode, Super Mario Maker is a ton of fun. Even if you just want to buy the game to play levels designed by other gamers around the world, you could be pleasantly surprised! For Super Mario Bros. fans, this is a must buy.