Allowing gamers to create their own levels is a beautiful thing. Sony did this with the LittleBigPlanet games, opening the door to a vast community of inventive designers who went on to build everything, from a wonderful homage to Contra to a level inspired by Star Wars. With the right tool set, anything is possible.
This must be what Nintendo thought while coming up with Super Mario Maker for Wii U. The game lets players draw from classic adventures and create their own worlds filled with question mark blocks with coins inside or dozens of Hammer Brothers throwing projectiles all at once.
The first thing you'll notice about the game is the various art styles. The original Super Mario Bros. from 1985 is present and accounted for, as well as other games in the series, including Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. U.
What makes Super Mario Maker stand out from other games is the editor. Utilizing the Wii U GamePad touchscreen, you move objects around with ease and alter them to have different effects. For instance, you can change a green Koopa into a red one with a simple shake, or tweak how often the Hammer Brothers throw their hammers.
Taking this a step further, objects can be stacked on top of each another for additional challenges. You can put down a series of pipes, then challenge players to navigate them using Mario in his Tanooki suit. Similarly, you have the option to stack different types of enemies. Alternate Goombas and Koopa Troopas, then top off the stack with a Bullet Bill. There’s also the chance to turn the usual Mario conventions upside down. Instead of having him toss spiny critters, design Lakitu to throw power-ups, or add a few Piranha Plant-shooting cannons. There are near limitless possibilities.
In addition, you can switch art styles on the fly. Easily cycle through available backgrounds and watch the graphics change from Super Mario Bros. to Super Mario World. Want to see what your version of World 1-1 from SMB would look like in Super Mario Bros. 3? Seamlessly switch graphics without a loss in quality or performance, then go back just as quickly.
Of course, a game like Super Mario Maker will flourish with the right community, and Nintendo already has this in place. With a simple menu system, you'll be able to name and edit levels with ease, then upload them to a community-based page where other gamers can try them out. Likewise, you can also check out other users' creations and see how you fare, then leave feedback if you think something needs fixing. More enemies? Trickier jumps? Let them know.
It'd also be great if Nintendo provided a spotlight feature for Super Mario Maker, highlighting the week's best levels and even providing professional designs from the likes of Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto. Don’t rule this out.
Of course, Super Mario Maker will come with amiibo support, including a 30th Anniversary Mario amiibo released alongside the game that unlocks a Big Mushroom power-up. Pre-existing amiibo will also work, allowing you to transform into these characters, making it possible to explore the Mushroom Kingdom with, let’s say, the Wii Fit Trainer. This ties into a 100 Mario Challenge Mode that works in conjunction with amiibo. However, you don’t need an amiibo to enjoy it.
With its deep building tools and unique options, Mario Maker should become a huge hit for Nintendo when it debuts on September 11th. Finally, as an added bonus, every copy of the game comes with an art book to give fans ideas for creating their own stages. All told, it’s quite the package, and we look forward to spending hours creating our own levels and playing yours.
Now watch Nintendo’s Super Mario Maker E3 2015 trailer!