Make your own Mushroom Kingdom.
For some 30-odd years, gamers have been running and jumping their way through colourful platforming levels as a moustache-wielding plumber. I would imagine there are very few gamers out there who have never tried their hand at a Super Mario level, but so far the ability to create these magical levels has been the sole domain of Nintendo themselves. Until now, that is, as Super Mario Maker on the Wii U takes an idea from other, popular games and finally allows players to create their own Super Mario levels and share them with the world.
When first starting Super Mario Maker up on the Wii U, players will be presented with an incomplete level and dropped straight into a tutorial showing how to use the available tools to complete this level. The selection of tools to begin with are fairly minimal, but the player will find themselves placing blocks to complete the run from beginning to the flag in this simple level. They will then be able to place enemies and hide coins or power ups within the blocks.
The way this is all set up is very simple. The tools available are found at the top of the screen, and the player uses the stylus to drag them into place. Some of the objects can be changed, such as shaking a Koopa to change their colour. There is an eraser to remove any objects that have been mistakenly placed, and the player can stop creating at any time to test out the level and decide if anything else is needed.
Nintendo don’t just hand over all of the tools from the very beginning. They want to teach you how to make brilliant levels, so objects are drip fed over the course of a few days, allowing the player to slowly discover their use. For some this will put an undesired break on their creativity, forcing them to wait until everything is available and they can create the Super Mario level of their dreams. But the wait is only a few days, and once complete there is such a massive array of tools and objects that the only thing standing in a creator’s way will be their imagination – God help us all!!
Once everything is available, players will be able to create levels of varying length and theme, even with warp pipes able to take players to a sub level of a different theme. The themes available are Overworld, Underground, Water, Ghost House, Airship and Castle. But this customisation is further enhanced by the inclusion of different styles. These styles, which include Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros., all bring with them not only different visual styles, but music, sound effects and mechanics. Creators can even switch styles part way through creation, should inspiration take them in a different direction.
All of the classic objects and enemies are available to use in your levels, along with a wide selection of power ups. But there is even a new mushroom that can be placed in your levels, one that will change Mario into a different character all together. These different character looks can be unlocked by playing one of the gameplay modes, or by using an Amiibo, and come with different sound effects to suit.
But creating levels is only half of the fun. There are also plenty of ways to play what will undoubtedly become a massive library of player created levels.
Switching over to Play Mode, players will be able to jump into 10 Mario Mode, for example. In this mode, players will have 10 lives with which to play through a selection of levels created by Nintendo themselves. These levels give a glimpse of what Super Mario Maker’s Create mode is capable of, with levels often starting very familiar before being totally mixed up. Complete a stage and it becomes unlocked for players to edit as they see fit.
100 Mario Mode gives the player 100 lives with which to complete a random selection of player created levels. Completing this mode will unlock characters for use with the new Mushroom in Create mode, and players can enjoy either easy or normal difficulty, with an expert difficulty becoming available after completing normal.
Then players can freely browse the community created levels. A selection of levels recommended by Nintendo are available and, as players are able to assign stars to levels they especially enjoy, top rated levels are also available at a glance. Players are even able to leave comments and follow their favorite level creators and be notified when they create something new.
The variety of levels available to play are where the game really shines. From simple levels requiring pin point platforming accuracy, to speed runs and even levels which try to emulate different genres all together, there is always something new to discover and as time passes, this library of levels will only grow. The only thing I really miss in playing levels in this way is the lack of continuity. But for a quick hit burst of fun, Super Mario Maker will just keep on giving.
As perhaps expected, Super Mario Maker is polished to an extreme, with everything from the menu systems to the quirky little sound effects designed to create a joyous experience for any player or creator. For the creative or imaginative, making levels almost without limitation is available. And for the gamer, an almost unlimited selection of levels are ready to be mastered. Either way, Super Mario Maker is a Wii U essential.