We here at GamerKnights were lucky enough to snag an early copy of Super Mario Maker, and we’re having a blast!
Make My Day:
A couple of days ago the folks at Nintendo were kind enough to send us an pre-release build of Super Mario Maker and I have to say – I’m hugely impressed. Mario Maker was always a great idea: at trade shows and in Nintendo’s always-adorable Nintendo Direct streams the game looked fantastic from the get go. I just wasn’t sure it was for me.
Eight years ago the world was introduced to Little Big Planet, and I bought into it hard. It was the first time community-driven content made the leap from the modding community of personal computers and onto our consoles in a big way. With its feature rich toolset I was sure I’d never need another game again. A few weeks after release I’d had a blast with Media Molecules on-disc content, had explored the best of the community’s offerings, but I never really clicked with the editor myself. It was deep, smart, but ultimately not something I came back to after my first dismal foray.
Super Mario Maker is different. Within minutes of booting the game up for the first time it had me creating simple Mario style levels that worked and – more importantly – were fun. Doing away with a few key complexities that the Little Big creation suite got hung up on (at least for the commitment-phobic players such as myself, who didn’t want to spend weeks tweaking a masterpiece) SMM puts simplicity first, but never at the expense of enjoyment. Within an hour Super Mario Maker was prodding at me to subvert classic Mario design, to get enemies popping out of item blocks or create towering walls of waddling foes. It paid due reverence to the phenomenal design of Nintendo’s all-stars and the lessons I’d learned growing up cross-legged in front of my NES, and then told me to go nuts. Take the basic Mario laws and shake them up until I couldn’t fit another Goomba on stage.
Creation in Super Mario Maker is never hard, never complicated, and always fun. Despite its relative simplicity I’ve yet to feel limited, unable to realize a level I’ve envisioned. I’ve already spent a lot of time with my suit tinkering with a couple of stages that are coming along nicely, if I do say so myself. My toolset is still in its infancy though, as more items and tools unlock every day you play. I wish Nintendo had opted for a different strategy to unlock these additional elements however. Whilst I imagine they’ve taken this route to avoid overwhelming players with options (and potentially turn them off altogether), I feel a smarter alternative could have been tied to your playtime, or unlocking them through playing other peoples levels. After beating ten, or one hundred stages, maybe the next row of tools could have been unlocked, or perhaps being introduced to different buttons, enemies and platforms through experiencing them in Nintendo-made levels to see how they’re best utilized. The day-to-day unlocks is an understandable but ultimately infuriating system.
There’s a strong sense of community that Nintendo has fostered with its Miiverse integration and its excellent social hub. To be praising a Nintendo title’s online-component feels as weird writing about as it must do reading about it, but Mario Maker’s global interaction – playing, rating and commenting on the works of players around the world – is pretty much perfect in Super Mario Maker. I’ve already played a load of top rated levels by the community’s fledgling stars, and also run the randomized gauntlet of 100 Mario Mode a few times (one hundred lives to get through sixteen community levels of varying difficulty.)
It’s in these levels I’ve experienced some of my darkest hours as a Mario fan. Whilst Nintendo have never been too mean with the challenge found in their titles, the community simply don’t have that much restraint. Given a set of killing tools and an empty canvas, the vast majority of players seem to have opted for a much more sadistic level of design. My friendly, colourful romps through the Mushroom Kingdom have, in the last two days, been turned into death-filled nightmares that are tougher than a Souls game and with less forgiveness for error.
Throwing a billion enemies at you with no checkpoints makes for engaging, if excruciating play, but I’ve soldiered through these hellscapes and come out victorious – and let me tell you it’s a sweet feeling. Whilst I’ve enjoyed testing my classic-platformer mettle against the evil whims of strangers, however, I have also loved the courses made for pure enjoyment. Tackling a Goomba army of increasing size as a renegade red Goomba was a particular highlight, but a face-meltingly fast Kirby stage came a close second.
These are just a couple of examples in a selection that is growing fast, and – if you’ll excuse me – I’ve got to go check on it. There’s bound to have been a thousand more awesome courses made in the time it’s taken to write this, and I’ve got to go beat every single one of them.
Stay tuned for the full review in about 2 weeks!