Ever wanted to create your own Super Mario adventure? Well the good news is that as of next year you’ll be able to do just that with the release of Mario Maker for the Nintendo Wii U. As well as giving players limitless potential in terms of the number of levels they’ll be able to play, it’s also set to give them a unique opportunity to unlock their creativity skills as much as testing their reflexes and problem solving capabilities.
Stacked Goombas ten shrooms high, Koopa Troopas carrying Piranha Plants and pipes tunneling off in all angles will be just a few of the crazy variables you’ll be able to play around with, making the Mushroom Kingdom your personal playground. It’s not all just a nostalgic love affair with the history of Super Mario either as the big N has also thrown in the sumptuous beauty of New Super Mario Bros U styles to soop things up with, as well as the old-school brilliance of Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World platform and background styles.
Mario Maker has been schedule for an unspecified early 2015 release date, which for us indicates that it will be an early spring outing for the creator game to coincide with Easter holidays. As with all Mario games it’s an exclusive title for Nintendo and will only be available on the Nintendo Wii U. It’s a bit of a shame that there isn’t a crossover onto the 3DS, as it would have been a lot of fun creating the levels on the Wii U and playing them on the move with the hand-held genius of the 3DS, but alas this is but a pipe dream at the moment.
As there is no storyline as such, except for maybe the assumption that it builds off the general Princess rescue concept of the game styles that run throughout the game maker, so we’ll skip straight into the gameplay for the title. At its heart, the gameplay is that of the simple brilliance of the classic side-scrolling 2D platform fun that spawned the Mario universe, so it’s all about running, jumping, squashing and flying through the linear levels in a bid to make it to the end before the timer runs down.
However, the reality is that Mario Maker is more about the anarchic freedom of building your own levels to create a game of infinite level possibilities. To do this you simply use the Wii U gamepad and the game’s constructor tools to place blocks, baddies and platforms to create the level and quickly test and amend them as you go by switching between play and constructor modes.
In addition to this, you can also switch between the four styles of the game – Super Mario Bros., Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. U – which builds in even more variation into the level possibilities that the game has up its sleeve. This doesn’t do a great deal to change the gameplay as such, as the basic construction of the levels is fundamentally the same, but it does create the air of increased variation to the potential of the game.
The biggest news is that not only will you be able to make and play your own levels, but you’ll also be able to share them online and play other people’s levels too. This makes the game much more interesting because a big part of gaming is not knowing what’s coming up next, which sort of makes playing a level you’ve constructed yourself a little less challenging, but with other people’s courses to play things suddenly get a whole lot more interesting.
As you would expect, graphics aren’t really one of the big bragging rights for Mario Maker, as there’s a lot of focus on simplicity and the classic graphics of 8-bit and 16-bit gaming. That said, there is at least a few nuggets of shiny golden coin beauty when you switch things up to the lusher graphical style of New Super Mario Bros U, which looks as impressive as the game itself was.
There are clearly lots of positives to Mario Maker, but equally there’s a lot of scope for more advanced options in the creator element of the game, which would have added much more potential for fun. We’re certain that there’s more to come in terms of the development of the game from the look and feel that’s presented in the trailer below, and in E3 demos, but it would be naive to imagine that Nintendo will be able to bundle everything into the game before it’s release next year.
Shigeru Miyamoto (the creator of Mario, for anyone not up on their computer games history) has hinted pretty strongly at the possibility of Mario Maker going on to become a gaming series in its own right, so we can understand there being an element of holding things back, but we still think that there’s more that should have been added to the bag of tool you’ll have at your mercy.
There are a lot of baddies that don’t appear to be a part of the game at the moment and that’s a real pity as it would have been a big boost to the potential success of the title. From what we’ve seen you’ll only have Goombas, Koopa Troopas, Hammer Bro. and Piranha Plants at your disposal, so for anyone hoping for Wigglers, Bullet Bills and the Kooper King himself, you might be a little disappointed, but we’ll have to wait and see how Nintendo play out the announcements in the run up to the release date.
We could say the same about the level construction elements too, as you’ll have hard blocks, smash blocks, trampoline bouncers, pipes, power-up blocks, floating platforms and coins to maneouvre and not a lot else. When you think about the sheer variety of what was included in Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros U you can’t help but feel like the game has been constrained by what was available in Super Mario Bros., instead of everything being retrofitted with the most advanced options.
The other element that would have quite cool is 8-bit and 16-bit pixel art, which would have opened up a whole world of variation and artistry into the creativity of the game. It’s just a suggestion, but if the game does turn into a series, this is something that we’d love to see added in, with the possibility of taking this to maybe HD levels of artistry for the New Super Mario Bros. U styling.