So here’s the thing about Super Mario Maker: you can never go back.
There’s no putting the toothpaste back in the tube. Once you know that you can make Super Mario Bros. levels, you can’t just play Super Mario Bros. anymore. I know this because I tried. For funsies, I revisited Super Mario Bros. 1, and immediately, I sized everything up with Maker eyes:
“It’d be cool if they put an invisible block here…”
“I wonder if a second Koopa Troopa here would trip you up…”
“THIS WOULD KICK ASS WITH MORE FIRE FIRE FIIIIRRRRREEEEEEEE”
You get the point.
Super Mario Maker is the perfect tool; you’re given damn near every enemy, background, foreground, process, brick, block and powerup that you encountered in Super Mario Bros. 1, 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U. You could make (and I have) a level where there’s no ground and in order to move forward, you’ve got to bounce from one enemy to the next, all while somehow dodging flying Bloopers that Lakitu is throwing at you.
Or you could make a level like this, which took people 11,000+ tries before anyone beat it. And even then, it was beaten by a speedrunner:
But whoa, dude. Slow down.
The game has a built-in content gate, so not all of the game elements unlock at once (you can’t make a 500-long fire bar hallway until day four). Initially in the preview build and even the retail copy, it took a total of nine (excruciating) days to unlock all of the Super Mario Maker elements. Day one, you’d start with Super Mario Bros. 1 World 1-1 blocks, enemies, terrain and (some) powerups. As you played, you’d queue “deliveries” of new content – underground elements, underwater, castle, SMB3, sub-worlds and so on. There’s word that Nintendo has since patched the game to unlock elements more quickly (but I’m still on the slow boat in the retail build).
The building feels incredibly intuitive and smooth. You’re using a palette of elements right there on the WiiU gamepad, and it’s such an easy system that my 6 year old is able to make a start-to-finish level without my help. Nintendo has always been great at accessibility like that.
This is where you feed insanity to people. When you’re done making a level, you can upload it for others to play. First, Super Mario Maker forces you to beat your own level before uploading, then you get to name it, and it’s unleashed to the wild. There are AWESOME levels out there, and honestly, I can easily veg-out on Twitch.tv for an hour watching people try to beat levels. Or, I just sit and watch notorious speedrunner and longtime Mario level hacker PangaeaPanga play his own batpoop-crazy levels:
(Oh, and PangaeaPanga also once beat Super Mario World in 23:14 while blindfolded.)
So yeah. You’ve got potential here to make the Super Mario Bros. levels that you’ve always dreamed of, then have your friends and kids battle it out to see who is the ultimate Mario player. Or you can just peruse other peoples’ levels and see how creative the world is with this stuff.
Did I mention that Super Mario Maker has Amiibo support? Because Super Mario Maker has Amiibo support. You’re able to tap an Amiibo against your WiiU gamepad and it gives you a costume of that character for use in your level through a mushroom powerup.
You guys. This game is crazy wafers. This is the magic tool that every kid has wanted ever since they played Super Mario Bros. back in 1985. Back then, who didn’t sit around with their friends and draw Super Mario Bros. levels on graph paper? Well now we can make those drawings come to life – and on Mario’s 30th anniversary nonetheless.
Funny thing is: for our kids (you do have kids, right?), this game is just Super Mario Minecraft. Kids these days expect games to let you craft and build things (they’ll still love SMM). But for you and I, this game is the Mario we’ve been waiting for. Been making Super Mario Maker levels? Leave your course ID in the comments below and I’ll gladly play them!