I’m not sure how it started, or where, but for some bizarre reason, I’ve always had an obsession with level editors. I sometimes find myself enjoying the most mediocre of games, just because they included this feature. That’s not even mentioning the amount of hours I’ve lost to great games, like Tony Hawk’s Pro-Skater, Time Splitters, Megaman Powered Up!, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which also featured level creation tools.
Reviewed on: Wii U
Release Date: Out Now
But for some strange reason, despite the idea being painfully obvious, the portly plumber from the camp of Nintendo hasn’t had his own level creation software for gamers to use… that is, until recently.
I’ve lost huge chunks of my life to games like Megaman Powered Up, and Little Big Planet just because of the ability to create levels, but Megaman Powered Up was a little awkward due to the PSP’s limited controls, and Little Big Planet always felt like it had moon physics, these games always seemed like harder work than they should have. My time of waiting for that competent level creator, however, has now ended thanks to Nintendo’s flagship franchise.
Super Mario Maker is exactly what it sounds like, it allows you to make Super Mario levels, play them and event share them online for the world to try. Have I mentioned that I love level creation? I also love Mario, I’m one of the three people alive who still thinks he needs MORE games (I’m pretty sure the other two work for Nintendo).
The level editing tools we’re presented with are very simple.
Using the totally-not-under-utilized-not-at-all-no-really-guys-we-thought-this-through Wii U Gamepad, you can draw your levels almost as easily as you could draw anything else, it’s quite intuitive and provide a great deal more freedom than the dreaded analog stick. My one and only gripe with the controls is the fact that, for some reason unknown to us mere mortals, the button that makes the screen scroll faster is on the right side. Finally a win for you lefties I suppose, but for us righties, not so much. This would be improved by making it so that the D-pad mimicked the face buttons, but instead they move the camera… something that really should be left to the analog sticks.
I can say without any amount of hyperbole, this IS the best level editor in any game, ever. It’s easy to use, and yet it’s not simplified. It does provide you with the tools you’ll need to make great levels, it’s just that you’ll definitely need to get creative with how you use them. Could the tools available in the level editor be improved in any way? Slopes.
Annoyingly, the game is let down by one bizarre mechanic designed to encourage you to learn the ins-and-outs of levels making. The system essentially makes you wait up to nine days to unlock everything while it teaches you the basics. While it is clear to see that this was designed with good intentions, some gamers prefer to jump in and learn by doing, and so the restriction will not please everyone. There is a method of speeding this up, however; and it involves placing random objects on the map, making sure all the currently accessible tools have been used at least once, and waiting for the delivery truck to bring your new items. This takes about 2 hours. Yeah, it wasn’t very fun at first. They really should have just given you all the tools from the start.
Graphically, Super Mario Maker is impressive…..most of the time. One of the big highlights is the ability to seamlessly switch between the different styles of Super Mario Bros. through the ages, from the original 8-bit game through to the modern New Super Mario Bros. If you’re a long time Mario fan with a love for nostalgia then you’re going to appreciate how much Nintendo have done to capture the feel of the NES/SNES titles.
Unfortunately, the New Super Mario Bros. look is jarring at times. The modern Mario and all the on-screen enemies were actually 3D models; however Super Mario Maker reduces them to pre-rendered 2D sprites, very similar to Donkey Kong Country on the SNES, or more recently, Sonic the Hedgehog 4.
This step down from 3D to the 2D seems to have caused a number of unexpected minor graphical glitches. The animations of enemies sometimes look very strange and wonky, I found myself getting oddly distracted by the walk cycles of Drybones, and other times when ground-pounding (the act of jumping, and then pressing down for those who don’t know) Mario’s buttocks would clip through the floor. That said, these are all just very minor nitpicks, that don’t actually hinder the full enjoyment of the game.
What unfortunately does hinder the full enjoyment of Super Mario Maker is how the online community share their creations, with a game like this, the community, as well as the level sharing system, can make or break it. The aforementioned Megaman Powered Up! did this exceptionally well, and to this day, I think that game has done it the best, particularly the level sharing.
Here, level sharing comes down to a code. Yup, kinda like those terrible friend codes that Nintendo used to have for the Wii and DS, and still use for the 3DS despite the fact that nobody in their right mind could ever think that was a good… getting off topic here.
Level sharing isn’t well implemented at all, you have to punch in a 12 character code, instead of just looking up keywords. I guess this does remove a lot of the guess work, since each code is unique, but a huge chunk of the fun of these games is sifting through the poorly designed levels just to find that one shining gem.
The community itself isn’t too bad, given the history and popularity of the Mario franchise, though, this isn’t too surprising. I’ve played random levels that were terrible, but then I’ve also seen my fair share of really well thought out levels that were a competently designed, and fun to play. The ratio of good stages versus terrible ones is still drastically off, but there are definitely more well-designed stages than you’d usually find in a game of this ilk.
The higher quality of a lot of these stages, particularly when compared to other games like this, is largely due to the fact that the creator has to be able to complete their level PRIOR to uploading it. In Little Big Planet, I had often seen levels that were intentionally made to be impossible. Needless to say, in Super Mario Maker, that’s impossible. Another strength and because no game can live off user-made content alone, this game does come with a ton of pre-made stages, including frequently updated event stages that provide the player with all sorts of new outfits to put on Mario.
Bottom line, do you like Mario? Then I highly suggest getting this. Even if you’re not that into level editors, there’s enough well made user-created content, as well as pre-made stages, to warrant the purchase.
- Level Creation tools are fun and easy to use.
- There’s quite a few good user-created levels, as well as pre-made stuff.
- It lets you make Super Mario World levels, how could I NOT have that as a good point?
- Sharing levels is really tedious.
- There’s obvious things missing, that have been a staple since SMB3.