I’ll be the first to admit it: Super Mario Maker doesn’t look fun to me. I see it as a game you pick up once every few months and its the only thing you play for a week, but then you drop it again. How one might play The Sims. Part of the reason is I remember having games that allowed you to create your own content, but it was never as cool as you expected it to be.
And then I played Super Mario Maker. My first thought for why this works so well compared to other ‘creator’ games is because Super Mario Maker isn’t trying to help you create your own unique game. Instead, we are all building upon a game franchise that we love – Super Mario – to create more interesting content. To add icing to the cake, these are the tools that the creators of Super Mario use themselves when crafting levels.
Super Mario Maker is meant for those who don’t want to take themselves seriously. Although I have no doubt that some great worlds will come out of the creator, for the most part, it’s people trolling each other and re-creating other famous games using Amiibo costumes.
The example worlds that Nintendo has left in Super Mario Maker are great, but this comes with years of experience. After Miyamoto was featured in a video by Eurogamer, you understand how much work goes into making Nintendo games intuitive. Unless you have a large group of friends you can watch play your worlds, you probably won’t create anything ground breaking.
The 9 day lock (which has since been removed) is something that definitely has an impact on this game. Although the lock forces you to explore other content in Super Mario Maker, most players aren’t going to spend all their time in the creator alone. You need ideas, inspiration, and for that other users worlds are great.
If you want to be a Super Mario Maker Professional, you’ll need to spend time each day (or “shipment”) learning how to utilize all the new items you have. Being able to place, and add different combinations to the items, lets you understand how the Super Mario levels are created to an all new level.
Each level you attempt to upload to the servers, you must complete in the final version. This system prevents players from uploading impossible levels, but doesn’t prevent putting difficulty into your level. Whether it’s a spiked wall jumping level (shout out to that guy) that requires perfect positioning, or a invisible block right before the flag pole, you’ll be surprised at what people can come up with to prevent you from beating their creation. They may also add a hidden pathway (similar to Super Mario Brothers level 1-2) to beat the level without passing their challenges.
As far as playing and uploading levels online, the connection is smooth and has little to no loading time. Even playing the 100 Mario challenge, which uses user created levels, feels like you’re playing a regular Mario game. Except 90% of the levels were created to frustrate you.
The Amiibo compatibility is a necessary evil in any Nintendo game as of late it seems. In Super Mario Maker, for those of you who bought Amiibo, you’ll be given the gift of a costume that you can put into levels and anyone uses. And for anyone who didn’t buy Amiibo? Well, you’re not missing out on a lot. This compromise is great for those that don’t want to spend the amount of money required into a solid collection, but it gives a short end to those who have supported Nintendo’s new venture into the toy-to-life category.
One thing I’ve always disliked about reviewing a game is how quickly you have to explore the content and in some cases, beat the game. The less time I can spend on a feature to fully understand it, the less my time on something else has to be rushed. You get the hang out of it eventually, and its certainly helped me understand games faster – but its still frustrating.
Super Mario Maker is not a game that I rushed. I sat down with 1 hour to spare, and ended up playing it for 3 (Don’t worry keyboard warriors, I played it for more than 3 hours before reviewing it). The only problem is? Then the second day came. And the third. Heres the thing, Super Mario Maker is exciting and fresh on the first day. You have countless worlds to explore created by other users, and the creator gives you endless options!
But endless content doesn’t necessarily make a game good. Super Mario Maker, although it has tons of potential, doesn’t have a lasting appeal. After creating a few cool worlds in the creator, and trying the different gameplay modes a few times, unless you’re a diehard Mario fan, you will probably become bored.
And maybe thats my problem when I play Super Mario Maker, I’ve never been largely into Mario. I’ve played most of the games, and I’ve enjoyed every one, but I don’t actively sit down to play a Mario game. If anything, playing Super Mario Maker has made me want to go back and play some of the games more then Super Mario Maker. Maybe thats what Nintendo was intending.
I would never say that Nintendo is only selling their games based on nostalgia, however. I still think a lot of their works are high quality, and deserve good scores. I also believe it’s my job to critically judge a game. For what Super Mario Maker is trying to do, it does it well. But remember this: If you are not a die hard Super Mario fan, gritting your teeth waiting for the next installment to release, this game is probably not for you. I’d wait and see if Nintendo ever blesses you with a sale on it.