Super Mario Maker Review


You can add construction worker to the insane things that Mario has done throughout the years, and now it’s your job to help him create levels.

Seth Anderson, Staff Writer

Thirty years is one heck of a lifetime for any franchise to be sticking around, and the Mario series is all but solidified as one of the greatest.  While games of today focus on story and cinematics, Mario has remained focused on gameplay and level design. That is why it is amazing that is it is taken this long for a level editor to come about. Granted, there have been fan made editors and ROM Hacks such as Kaizo Mario (For the uninitiated, Kaizo is a string of Mario hacks designed to make the play rage at its unfair challenge), it is now official that Nintendo is endorsing the same creativity that allowed them to get in the hearts and minds of gamers everywhere.

The game immediately starts in arguably the most iconic level in gaming, World 1-1 of Super Mario Brothers. However, it becomes clear that everything is not as it seems. Parts of the level are missing, pieces of the ground are completely gone, and some enemies are missing. This is the introduction to the level editing system. In this case, it instructs players to place specific items in the places highlighted on screen. After this, there are almost no restrictions on what the player can do. It allows for the mind to flow freely, and the game is a perfect tool for those who have the well of creativity for video game design. This is one of Mario Makers greatest strengths, and it lends to the longevity of the game.

After the tutorial, players are granted with three different modes. Course World, where the online modes take place, 10 Mario Challenge, where levels Nintendo Employees created are played in a sequence to unlock a completion reward. And then there is the main attraction, create, where the player creates levels to play and upload to the internet.

Create is the star of the show, and it starts out Bare Bones. However, players can unlock a ton of items by simply playing the game. To unlock objects in creation mode, the player has to use every item in the “set” players start out with or unlock. The game will relay a message saying they’ll arrive shortly, and players have to wait 15-20 minutes, depending on how it feels. (I timed the in-between time, and it varied every single time)  Rinse and repeat nine times to unlock everything. This brings us to one of the major complaints of the game, a lack of level editing options. The player can only add mushrooms to enemies, not fire flowers, taking away some enemy variety. Players cannot add more than two areas, which at first, sounds great, but it can make levels with grand scale feel pretty cramped. But overall, the creator is a great officially made level editor for fans. (As of 10-27-15, Nintendo is releasing free updates including checkpoints and more item capabilities.)

Course World is the hub for the three online modes. 100 Mario Challenge, where level designers can play user created levels in a 100 life challenge. Beating this challenge unlocks a special costume designers can use in the Super Mario Bros theme. Characters like Luigi, Bowser, Peach, Toad and even characters from other franchises make appearances with these costumes. There are three levels of difficulty, Easy, Normal, and Expert. Eventually, after earning enough costumes, the player will be forced to play harder difficulties to unlock the final outfits.

Course World also allows for the player to like and share levels with other players. By earning enough stars, players unlock the ability to upload more levels. It is worth mentioning that searching for levels is done with a 16 digit code that is far harder to use than a simple name search. This does allow for a direct search, but it takes away the simplicity of just searching a name.

Overall, the game is a spectacular conglomeration of 30 years of 2d platforming goodness. With over 60 levels on disk, a very expansive level editor, and a great online community, (so far) this game should be bought at 60 dollars, regardless of previous experience with Mario. An editor can learn on the fly, and the levels that are made online can help players gain experience with constant play. The charming references to Mario Paint and the alternate 8-bit costumes with other characters allow for tons of replay ability. This is a 30th anniversary done right, and while not grandiose or spectacular, it is a perfect way to start off the next 30 years for the Italian Plumber.