At its 30th anniversary, Mario needs no presentation. Neither do game making tools. This is where the magic lies.
Super Mario Maker presents a painting canvas, and a palette taken from Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. With a simple interface and premise, all Super Mario Maker does is realizing a dream we players had since day one, back in 1985: show we can do it better.
You, as the Player:
Super Mario Maker is still a Mario game; you should expect, as minimum, all the added fun of its pieces. As the player, you will traverse over 100 pre-built levels and an infinite number of online levels created by the growing maker community. Everyone is invited to share their creations, so you have a steady supply of new courses which you can access in an instant through the Course World.
Special care was taken to protect this ecosystem for you: to get the seal of approval, all uploaded levels must first have been cleared by their creators (so you can rest assured that one level is not impossible, just hard). Course World records how well players manage to conquer courses (lives lost, time, etc.) in order to place all level in their appropriate difficulty tier, so you can decide how hardcore you want to go without nasty surprises.
You, as the Maker:
Course creation is reminiscent of Mario Paint, so if you played it, or fiddled with any painting software in your old computer, you already know how to create courses (indeed, since you are “painting” with your fingers on the WiiU pad, you could say anyone who was a child knows how to).
You lose no time with the learning process, an incredible step up from popular game making software, that can go as far as asking you to learn programming languages (like Game Maker) or just script structure (as in RPGMaker). You are still enclosed to the Mario world, but even in the small chunk of the Mario universe that is the 4 titles Super Mario Maker takes from, we are talking about 34+ different worlds – not levels, for those are far more.
You can also go beyond what the original games could – you probably don’t remember winged Goombas, Piranha Plant Towers and Spiky Shell hats…
Once finished, your courses can be uploaded in minutes to the Course World, breaking yet another barrier: sharing your creations is super-easy so you can focus just on creating.
And worry not about the power of this tool, it was designed with video game developers in mind, and even then, being crazy and doing near-impossible levels was part of the plan – it’s no secret that creating a maze gets more fun the more intricate you go, and when done right, you’ll create a stronger feel of accomplishment for your players. Win-win situation, if you don’t go overboard.
You, as the Composer:
Thanks to the Sound Frog, you can introduce sound effects in your courses. You might be asking this in your head, and yes – you’ll be able to record sounds via the WiiU microphone (no word yet on how they will deal with profanity, but most likely everything will be distorted beyond recognition).
As an added bonus, aside from regular Note Blocks you’ll have Music Blocks, that’ll play a note according to their height, so especially dedicated makers could make players “dance” to their favorite songs.
Graphics, on the other hand, aren’t customisable (which is weird since level creation is mostly drawing, but understandable for safety concerns). Don’t let that down you, though, the disc is still packed with assets spanning from decades. Everything looks as good as it did in their original incarnations, and if you are like me and love the retro feel, we are at home. If not, I hope you like Mario’s bizarre and lively style.
Super Mario Maker is just spot-on. If you like anything about Mario you’ll let loose your inner artist, and if you are an artist already this is an excellent game creation tool. All in all, an exceptional homage to Nintendo’s strongest franchise, and a good exercise in game design (and who knows? Maybe in some years we’ll hear about professional designers who had their roots in SMM).
For now, let’s wait for people to unleash their monsters on Course World (I wonder if the hacks behind mods like Kaizo Mario World already got their hands busy).
Super Mario Maker is already out for WiiU. If you need some help creating your levels, here is a Polygon interview with Takashi Tezuka, who has worked in Mario games since 1985, gives some tips to aspiring creators. As always, keeping it simple seems to be the key. This is the online manual he’s so proud of (and with good reasons).