Super Mario Maker definitely isn’t the next mainstream Mario title, like New Super Mario Bros. Wii U or Super Mario World 3D.
What it is, though, is a bunch of one-off Mario levels with infinite possibilities, depending on what gamers will come up with to create.
We’ve all had the thought before of making a great Mario level. A block here, Goomba here and pitfall here could make a level better. Now, you can put your money where your mouth is and make what you consider your perfect Mario level.
To get to that point, though, you’ll have to first unlock everything. When you start the game, you’ll only have a limited number of items unlocked. By creating for a bit each day, you’ll unlock new sets of items, locations to put levels and even new themes, such as Mario 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. U. In all, it takes nine days to unlock everything. Each day also needs five minutes of creation time to prepare the next day’s set for unlocking.
You may think this unlock style is frustrating, but it is a good idea to give items in smaller increments as to not overwhelm gamers that are new to creation. The game tries to be simplistic where it can. Placing items is as simple as tapping the item you want and tapping where you want it on the gamepad. It’s all grid-based, so it’s no problem telling where an item will drop at.
While every item from Mario may not be in the game, it does have quite a bit of a selection to go through. From the normal, like a Mushroom and Koopa Troopa to Kuribo’s Shoe/High-Heel Shoe/Yoshi, to Koopa Clown Cars, there’s plenty to fill a level with. In addition, doors and pipes can open up levels to multiple parts, giving you options for longer levels.
There is one new item that’s worth talking about more, though, and that’s the ? Mushrooms. These contain costumes, some that can be unlocked with Amiibos, others that can be unlocked in other ways. It’s great seeing an 8-bit Sonic running through levels. However, it is disappointing that these costumes are limited to only the original Mario style. Being able to use these in any theme would have been great.
The different themes in the game also come with some different abilities as well. For instance, the World theme gives you a spin jump, while Mario 3 slightly changes the jump physics like the original title did. Honestly, it can be great designing a level in one theme and changing to another to see what differences happen.
However, not all themes are in the game. Mario 2 is missing entirely, as is Super Mario 64 (although the 2D to 3D jump would have been hard) and Super Mario Sunshine. Just an acknowledgement of these games or a few items would have been fine.
There are some other creation limitations as well. You can’t turn the timer off, so hard puzzle levels with a time limit longer than 500 seconds are impossible to make. Stages must be horizontal, and there is a limit on the amount of enemies within a level, such as about 100 smaller enemies or a few Bowsers.
Besides creating levels, though, there are a few more things to do. Offline, there’s a 10 Mario Challenge, which gives you 10 lives to get through eight levels created by Nintendo to beat. Beat the level, and it unlocks for customization and additional play later. They’re fun levels to go through that don’t offer much of a challenge, but are definitely worth experiencing at least once. Plus, beating all levels unlock the Nintendo World Championship levels.
The big draw, though is the online hub called Course World. Course World will thrive as long as players keep making interesting levels. With just reviewers alone, I’ve seen automated levels, recreations of other 8-bit game levels, some insanely hard levels and everything in between. However, because all levels are shown before you play them, some levels lose the surprise they have to offer inside.
Like 10 Mario Challenge, online has a 100 Mario Challenge that gives 100 lives to take on eight random online levels. Beating this mode unlock costumes when you beat them, letting you get costumes without even having the Amiibo.
Overall, Super Mario Maker is a great creative title for beginners, but offers enough to entertain advanced designers. While there are some questionable limitations in place, there’s still more than enough to do to stay busy for quite some time. If you want to see the Wii U Gamepad used to its best, and experience some Mario levels you’ll never see Nintendo make, make this game a priority.