In 1985 Shigeru Miyamoto and Nintendo released Super Mario Bros. Over the years, the game was influence to droves of side scrolling platformers. The existence of Super Mario Bros allowed for clever alternatives to release in those droves, like Sonic The Hedgehog, a 2-D side scroller that replaced coins with rings and a pudgy plumber with a blue blur. But what if you could combine the two?
It’s actually been possible for a few decades now. If you had a decent computer and understood rom hacking, which is taking a backup of a video game and editing it to your liking, then reimagining video games wasn’t a pipe dream. You could have Sonic meet Mario! This type of modification was unlikely for the majority of fans, as information was scarce, and tools were expensive and hard to come by. Enter Super Mario Maker.
Super Mario Maker, Nintendo Wii U’s latest physical and digital release, allows the player to create a Mario level to their wildest desires. Want Mario to take on Bowser on an air ship in Super Mario Bros 3? You can have that. How about Bowser taking on Bowser in Super Mario Bros? You have also have that.
With the power of Amiibos, it’s immediately possible to scan your collection of plastic heroes onto the Wii U Game Pad and insert the character into what’s called a “Mystery Mushroom.” When Mario consumes the shroom, he’ll become said Amiibo. As long as Mario (or whoever it is) remains untouched, the costume will stay intact on screen. It’s more than a sprite swap. Sound effects follow. If you’re playing as Toon Link for example, the character will make all the grunts and groans the young hero made in The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker.
That’s certainly not all. As a player designs more stages, unlocks will pop up accompanied by a “delivery truck.” Spending just five minutes in course creation will guarantee more tools to appear the following day. If enough time is spent in any given session, tools will “arrive early,” via truck. Even in a game made for creators, Nintendo found a way to give it old-school charm by way of unlock methods of yesteryear.
Upon unlocking every tool, hours can be had experimenting with sound effects and ways to ensure best friends and family never touch tops of flag poles. Being fair of course comes with the territory. Part of the fun is making a ridiculously challenging place to play and reaching ends of ludicrously difficult levels others made for you. A masochistic lust craving retries will develop. After all, falling on top of oversized Goombas, splitting it into two more, while dodging Bowser breath and lava never gets boring.
When finishing a diabolical board, the level can be uploaded through “Coursebot” and shared with users from all over the world. Part of the immense fun stemming from Super Mario Maker comes from downloading a plethora of content from users who have a great sense of level design. I suggest “Don’t Touch Anything.” Never will you have more fun not pressing a button while engaging a video game.
If the zaniness is too much, Super Mario Maker has two other modes to choose from. There’s the “10 Mario Challenge” and “100 Mario Challenge.” The former is a standard level 1-10 progression that reintroduces elements from Mario games in ways they haven’t been dealt with. It jolts players creativity. The latter is a user-generated 100 level campaign resulting in hours of frustration and laughs.
Only one thing annoys me about the game, and it’s not a huge misstep. People are given tremendous freedom to form levels they’ve dreamt of, but were not given tools to create Metroid or Sonic mashups. That may sound like I’m reviewing the game for something it’s not, but I’m not. If the company allowed for voiced characters to enter Mario’s worlds, then it should also be the other way around. It’s nonsensical, especially considering that these character unlocks (Amiibos) are upwards of $14 with tax.