Making It As Mario

Let’s get this out of the way right now. I am truly awful at Mario games. I’m not bad at the 3D Mario games such as Super Mario Galaxy, but when it comes to old-school sidescrolling Mario, I am completely worthless.

Super Mario Maker is perfect for me because instead of playing levels, I can just make them. For the first time ever, players can create Mario levels and share them across the world.

Super Mario Maker doesn’t come with everything unlocked. When you first load up the level maker, there’s almost nothing there to customize with. You’re provided with blocks, item blocks, ground to walk on, pipes, coins, mushrooms and that’s about it. The game explicitly tells you that in order to unlock more stuff, you need to fill levels with items you already have. Therefore the game wants you to attempt to make levels with the bare necessities; But I found that the best way to unlock new stuff was to just fill a level with crap until the game decides you are ready to move on. Although I understand what the developers were going for, it’s a pretty terrible unlock system.

Once you actually unlock stuff, the real fun begins. There are four different graphical styles to choose from, including those from the original Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. U. The style doesn’t just change the graphics though; it will also determine the options available to the player. For instance, in New Super Mario Bros. U Mario can wall jump and spin jump, things he can’t do in other styles. Keep in mind when designing a level if you want these options available to the player or not.

You’ll eventually start unlocking items that really make for crazy levels. Want to fill a level full of flying giant Bowsers? Go ahead. Want to fill a level full of Cheep Cheeps and see if you can bounce over all of them to the finish line? Well don’t, I already tried that and it sucked.

Once you’ve unlocked everything, there aren’t many limitations on the player when it comes to customization. The game allows levels to be long and multifaceted, or short and sweet. It doesn’t force the player to make all their levels just like Shigeru Miyamoto did, in fact many of the most entertaining levels I played were not sidescrolling platformers, but shoot’em up’s and puzzles.

And that brings me to the sharing options. You can share any level you’ve created. The only requirement is that you must beat it yourself before it’s uploaded to ensure it’s not impossible.

The game tracks how successful others players are on your level and then labels its difficulty based on their success rate. That way bad players such as myself will know which levels to stay away from.

When you lose a life on a certain part of someone’s online level, the game will show you all the spots around you where everyone else died as well. That way I know that I’m not the only one who got hit by that damn fireball.

One of my favorite online features is the ability to save other people’s levels so you can play or edit them any time. Whenever I come across an amazing level, I save it so I never lose the ability to play it. It also allows you to look into how the level was made and maybe even edit it to make it easier if you’re bad and salty.

They did an incredible job with the sharing functions, which I wouldn’t expect from Nintendo. Hopefully this kind of online connectivity and freedom will be continued in other titles.

This game taught myself and a lot of other people just how damn hard it is to make a great Mario level. It requires a lot of foresight and creativity that most of us don’t have. With that said, I’ve played many user-created levels that have absolutely blown my mind. There are a lot of amazing developers out there who finally got their chance.

Super Mario Maker’s only real flaw is the unlock system, and that’s not significant enough to diminish the impact this game has had on gamers across the world. I can’t wait for Legend of Zelda Maker.