by Chase Brazle
For years, Nintendo has released game after game starring one of the most recognizable video game characters of all time: Mario. Any true fan of gaming has grown up playing at least one, if not several games in the Super Mario franchise, and the one that stands out in many players’ minds is the first in the series, Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
This 1985 game inspired a huge franchise (and fan base), and now, 17 popular games down the line, the video game series has returned to its roots with the release of Super Mario Maker for the Wii U.
Super Mario Maker
In this game, players are given the ability to create and play their own custom levels based on the four most popular side-scrolling games in the franchise, ranging from the oldest of the 17-game series, to the newest: Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. U.
Unlike other games in the franchise, Super Mario Maker gives players total creative control, and allows them to design levels based on the different visual styles and gameplay of the four previously mentioned games. This allows for much variation, considering how different Mario games looked and felt in 1985, compared to present day.
Combining Old and New
Warp pipes, Goombas and power-ups are just some of the many traditional Mario elements that players are encouraged to manipulate and arrange in whatever way they see fit while creating their levels.
This creation tool video game may seem out of place in a series of games that normally entail playing as the main character while trying to defeat level after level; however, Super Mario Maker stays true to the original style of the series, and offers a completely new perspective for players at the same time.
After creating a level, players can test it out. This aspect of the game is where the gameplay will be the most familiar to seasoned Mario game players. You can collect coins, jump on enemies and try to reach the top of the flagpole at the end of each level, just like you would in any of the previous platform-based Mario games. When players finish testing it, they can return to the creation tools to make improvements based on what they noticed in their play-through.
Another key aspect of the game is that once players have finished creating their unique level, they are then able to upload and share it online with other players so that others can try it out for themselves. With the amount of creative freedom in the game, combined with the ability to share and try out other players’ levels, Super Mario Maker inspires players to be as creative and inventive as possible.
This has already led to a huge variety of custom levels being shared, ranging from levels that are nearly impossible to beat, to levels that can be played without even touching the controller. Many players have even gone so far as to upload gameplay footage of their levels to YouTube, so the feat can be viewed by an even wider audience. Tournaments have even already been held to see who can create the best levels.
Super Mario Maker's Success
The game’s popularity isn’t just apparent among average gamers. It has received critical acclaim from many of the top video game review publications, with a score of 88 out of 100 from Metacritic and 9 out of 10 from IGN, just to name a few.
For many gamers like myself, the original Super Mario Bros. marked the beginning of their gaming careers, and provided countless hours of fun for both avid and infrequent video game players alike.
Although many of the levels in that first game are so engraved in my memory to the point that I can recall their exact layout, I vividly remember imagining what it would be like if I could reconstruct the levels and put my own spin on the game. However, I never imagined that a tool for this would be developed that gives players as much freedom and control over such intricate details as this game does.
While Super Mario Maker can be plenty of fun, and totally worth the money for someone who is completely new to Mario games, the players who will be the most entertained are those who get to revisit the old memories of all the great times they had playing the original games.