When Super Mario Maker was first announced, I honestly wasn’t too thrilled. Sure, there was some appeal to being able to make your own Mario levels, but I had thought I would pass on the title; it wasn’t for me. As time went on and more information was released surrounding the game, my ears started to perk up and I began taking notice. Over a period of just a few months, my opinion changed from passing on the title to possibly picking it up on release day. Ultimately, I ended up doing the latter. The real question is this: does the game manage to hold up after convincing me to part ways with my hard earned money?
As soon as the game booted up, I was greeted with an endearing introduction that [somewhat] acted as a brief tutorial for the creative process and system; I had been playing the first level of Super Mario Bros. when suddenly the game stopped and began telling me to try and add things to the level that weren’t originally there. From there on out, the game continued to show its pure charm and has encouraged creativity since. The player gets to choose from a fairly decent combination of enemies, blocks, ground, bosses, and other additions to create whatever levels they desire. One thing to note that may be an issue for some, though I had no problem with it at all; the content in the game isn’t fully unlocked upon first play. In fact, new skins and additional items are unlocked over the period of about 9 days or so. For me, this made it feel like I was accomplishing something (think of achievements with Xbox titles or trophies with PS titles); the difference being that I was unlocking usable game content.
Once everything is unlocked, the game constantly changes and evolves since it is all about creating new levels and playing others’ levels. This all adds up to massive amounts of gameplay hours; I’ve currently put about 20 hours into the title and still find each time to be engaging and fresh. In addition, this is one of the best uses of the GamePad I’ve seen come from a title created by Nintendo themselves. You, the player, can use the stylus – or your finger – to select, move, alter, and adjust everything. Want a turtle that won’t fall off the edge, staying on solid ground? Grab one from your toolbar, shake it around to change it to a red shell turtle, then simply drop into your level wherever you want. Want to switch the skin from Super Mario Bros. to Super Mario World? Just select it from the top left of the GamePad and choose accordingly. Want to record a fart noise to play whenever someone jumps on one of the turtles you’ve previously set into your level? Select the sounds effects option, record your sound via the GamePad microphone, and place it wherever you want! But, who would want to put fart noises in the level, right? Right?….. Ok, I’ve done that and don’t regret it one bit.
As far as technical aspects, the game runs incredibly smoothly, and the editing process is extremely well done. It really feels like I’m part of the creative process in developing a game, minus all of the actual technical aspects and, you know, developing. What I mean is this: it seems like it’s the fun, creative aspect in the development process. I would find myself making an awesome level (hey, I would think it was awesome), proceed to play it, then realize that I made some terrible mistakes along the way. I’d go back, edit the issues and play yet again, only to find that what I had done altered another section of my level. This sounds incredibly frustrating, but it wasn’t at all; I had so much fun creating and building upon initial foundations that the constant adjusting would usually leave me with a much improved level at the end. That is where the true satisfaction in Super Mario Maker reveals itself.
As much as the editing and creating process is a blast, the online community is…well, it’s a little less so. Everything loads up very quickly, and playing others’ levels is just fine – that is, as long as you aren’t trying to find an actual friend. My one and only complaint with the game thus far is that I can’t just look up a friend and follow them. I had to either look up one of their level codes (a code consisting of a combination of 12 letters and numbers) and follow them that way, or I would have to wait and see if any friends gave a star to one of my levels in order to find them and follow. The process is quite redundant and, frankly, unnecessary. Yet, since this is my only real complaint with the game, I was willing to look past it.
Finding levels to play, using either “10 Mario Challenge” or “100 Mario Challenge,” or checking out the latest levels and users is all very smooth. Each player initially has the opportunity to upload a max of 10 levels to the servers for people around the world to play. Once enough stars are accumulated – which are given by players who actually play your level(s) – then additional uploads are rewarded. You’ll find all types of levels, ranging from auto-play all the way to insanely hard platforming. Where you’ll find enjoyment with user levels is purely preferential, and thankfully there are so many levels to choose from, each player is bound to find a substantial amount of what he or she deems fun.
Super Mario Maker is a game that has potential to be consistently played for a very, very long time. Perhaps you only sit down for 15 minutes to design a new level, or maybe you take a couple hours to develop an entire world for others to play on your console (in order of how you place them, making it seem more like an actual Mario game); I’m positive most players will continually come back to play this game for a long time. If you’ve gathered nothing thus far, take this with you: Super Mario Maker is fun in one of the purest senses. It’s creativity. And how can you put a cap on creativity? I highly recommend Super Mario Maker. So, what are you waiting for? Go and share your creativity with the [Mario] world!