Ever since my early days of squawking at my cousin Axl to let me play Super Mario Bros 3 during his summer visits, I’ve wanted to make my own Mario levels. I even drew out a few during those humid months, using crayons, markers, anything I could get my hands on. The toys in my room were usually arranged in some sort of level as well. Needless to say, Nintendo hit me in the childhood with Mario Maker.
Mario Maker has that weird Japanese feel to it. It’s off-beat with its menus and sound effects, but its goals of being a tool to make Mario levels are met with unprecedented success. Never before has the act of game design been so simple. A concept can rapidly become a product in a matter of minutes. Will the level make players cry for mercy or make them smile?
Being able to build levels in four different Mario styles is a blast. What’s interesting is that many assets mix into styles they were never in before. For example, Bowser Jr. is available by giving dear old dad a shake, which can make for an interesting boss fight or just an obstacle to clear. Even new ways to play emerge with items like the Clown Car or Latiku’s Cloud. These items open up free flight, giving a whole range of options to builders.
Making levels isn’t everything though. Players who seek insane challenges will also find enjoyment with Mario Maker. The game supports many of the Wii U’s controllers, so players can grab their favorite and have a go at some levels in Course World with comfort. Filters can be used to find the hardest or most appreciated levels. You can also follow Makers like any modern social media site. Personally, I enjoy finding my favorite YouTube personalities through Twitter; their levels are usually pretty cool!
Of course, the major complaint behind Mario Maker is how the assets are unlocked. The more time you spend making levels, the more you unlock. Supposedly, a patch was added to speed up this process, but no matter how many levels I made, it seemed like I still had to wait until the next day for the shipment of assets to arrive. This does, however, force the player to build upon schema by using what’s available. Sometimes, the best concepts would come to me by being limited. I don’t think I would’ve messed with the New Super Mario Bros U mode if it wasn’t for that initial limitation; however, by doing so, I made some interesting levels involving the wall-jump mechanics in that mode.
The absolutely seamless transitions between modes, backgrounds, and level types gives the game a fluid feel. It opens the door for experimentation, especially when makers can tap an icon to try a segment as a player or switch game modes altogether. There’s also a Mario Path that can be toggled when unlocked, allowing makers to build sinister, precise jumps. Just about any feature a maker could want is possible in Mario Maker.
There are tons of unlockable sprites for use in the original Super Mario Bros style. A mystery mushroom grants makers the ability to put one of a hundred Nintendo characters into play, each with their own sound effects and animations. Unlocking these quirky characters can take a lot of time by playing the 100 Mario Challenge in Course World, but every Amiibo currently available unlocks a sprite, which is great for those of us addicted to the hunt of plastic figures.
All in all, Mario Maker is a charming game that gives players the chance to build levels for Mario to traverse. The excellent interface and flawless execution shows off Nintendo’s quality seal. There are tons of unlockables to find, and being that this is a community-driven game, it can hold unlimited hours of play. The joy of this game comes from its potential as millions of makers set out to create unique levels.
Lastly, I challenge all of our Giga Makers to send us some levels. They could show up in a YouTube video or Twitch stream. I’ll be devising my own to share as well.
The future of Mario Maker is bright, but first, it has to be built.