Super Mario Maker Review

By Blair Nokes on September 23, 2015

When Nintendo first announced Super Mario Maker for the Wii U, a common opinion voiced on the internet was that it looked like an eShop-only title, and didn't look like there would be enough content to justify a physical release at full retail price. Granted, when these comments were originally made, Nintendo only revealed that players could create levels using the original Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. U aesthetics. Once they expanded and offered Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World as levels you can generate and have fun with all of their assets, players soon began to realize exactly how special this title was going to be, and the sheer amount of content they have at their disposal. Just in time for the Italian Plumber's 30th anniversary, Super Mario Maker for the Wii U is a dream for most gamers; the ability to create your own Super Mario levels, and to share and play with other creations.

The main menu immediately puts you into the experience and right off the bat you can add platforms, enemies, obstacles, and anything you could possibly imagine. Super Mario Maker is a deep level creator, showcasing four important moments and titles in Mario's thirty year career. Super Mario Bros. is the first, marking the original debut on the NES. Super Mario Bros. 3 is another, highlighting what is typically regarded as the most beloved platformer. Super Mario World is also included to let players create 16-bit levels from the SNES classic, and naturally, New Super Mario Bros. U is given to players to create their own HD levels using the Wii U's launch title. All four act and operate exactly as you would expect them to, and because of the toolset available in Super Mario Maker, you can design levels in ways you would never have thought possible. You are able to blend enemies, traps and items to your liking; you could have piranha plants shoot cannons, or cover the map with Hammer Bros riding on Bullet Bills if you wish. I've seen one level created by a talented user that actually lets you play Zelda's Lullaby from Ocarina of Time. The possibilities are seemingly endless with what you can create and share. One thing I would hope for is if Nintendo were ambitious enough to add level creators for Super Mario 64. In a world where games like Far Cry 4 can sport their own robust level creator with the impressive visual engine its made on, it would be a real shame if Nintendo missed out on allowing fans to generate wacky levels with their 3D Mario games.

Controlling tools with the Wii U gamepad is incredible simple and easy to use. Touch controls offer instant editing, dragging and dropping items, platforms, traps and enemies, and you can even switch themes on the fly. And on top of that, all four themes look, feel and control like their source material. Super Mario World feels the same as it would on the SNES, and New Super Mario Bros. U has the 3D feel that feels dissimilar to the other three.

To add to the limitless content available, amiibo support is also included. I never thought I needed to see the Wii Fit Trainer stretch and jump over platforms in 8 or 16-bit levels, but I am sure glad I did. Creative players have already thought of recreating the first dungeon of the original Legend of Zelda while using the 8bit Link, or recreating the Deku Tree dungeon from Ocarina of Time from a 2D perspective. This is but a taste of the depth and creativity Nintendo has allowed players. If anything, Super Mario Maker has filled my mind with possibilities of level creators for other classic franchises like Mario Kart, Legend of Zelda, Metroid, or Donkey Kong Country "“ or team up with other studios for more collaborative Nintendo franchises like the Star Wars Rogue Squadron series. Super Mario Maker is a fantastic tool for both creators and players alike.

The visuals are top notch, regardless of the theme. The 8-bit theme of Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3 look exactly as it should. Super Mario World has the 16-bit charm with more detailed character models, and New Super Mario Bros. U has the high definition polish that brought a classic franchise to new light. The look and design of levels are all up to the player, and creator to imagine brilliantly designed and complex levels, or silly, novel and humorous ones. Some of the levels already created really test your skills as a player. Legendary designer Koji Igarashi, who most will know as the man behind the Castlevania series has also dipped into Super Mario Maker and designed his own level. That's another huge potential for this title "“ having other famous developers and level designers offer their talents and making Mario levels that challenge the mind.

Final Thoughts

Super Mario Maker is without a doubt a tremendous nod to Mario's 30 years in the gaming industry. It offers players a chance to create, revisit, share, and enjoy Mario levels from a variety of styles, complexity, difficulty, and imagination. Not only that but they can be created using four classic and memorable themes from the Mario franchise. Despite feeling that a lack of 3D Mario games seems like a missed opportunity, there's nothing stopping Nintendo from being ambitious enough to release content like that post-release and above all else, what's included out of the box is an incredible amount of content. For those who purchased the retail copy of the game, it also came with a detailed booklet offering tips and ideas for building your own levels. Super Mario Maker wasn't a game I thought I wanted, until I got a chance to play it. Now I need more.

Endless possibilities and loads of content.
Amiibo Support really adds to the experience.
Levels shared from the community are a mixture of challenging and humorous.
I’m thinking of how incredible creating 3D levels could be.
Other 2D themes could have been done, like the Gameboy’s Super Mario Land.
Full retail price may seem steep for a level editor, despite the sheer content.
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