Here it is. The Super Mario game that everyone has been waiting for.
Let's travel back to 1985 (Japan) and 1987 (U.S.). A time when gaming was young and everything that graced your CRT blew your mind, especially if you owned a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). For most of us born around that era of video games, Super Mario Bros. was probably your first game, or possibly your first Nintendo title. It set the par for platformers (and video games as a whole) at that time. Now jump forward 30 years into the future. Present day. Nintendo has once again gone above and beyond with a first-party title. Super Mario Maker is the answer to so many gamer's wishes.
Super Mario Maker for the Wii U is, at it's core, a creative experience. It puts you in control, allowing for nearly anything you want to see in a Mario game come to fruition. Essentially, you get to mime Miyamoto and build the craziest, most bizarre or insanely fun Mario levels you can think of! They did a great job allowing the player to feel like they are truly innovative and that everything you create is unique.
The only type of levels you can make are side-scrolling, sticking to the tried-and-true, original formula (sorry, no Super Mario 64-esque gameplay here). As you play through the creative mode, you unlock more and more familiar items and backdrops to implement into your designs. You will also unlock four different Mario game styles along the way; Super Mario Bros. (NES), Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES), Super Mario World (SNES) and New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U). Each game style has their own looks, flair and a few separate mechanics unique to the game itself, for example, Mario's spin-jump from Super Mario World is usable in that game style, but not in the original Super Mario Bros. style. I felt like this was a nice addition, giving the player more incentive to make levels using each of the different games.
Building levels in Super Mario Maker feels solid, smooth and well.. super! It's simple enough for the youngest gamer to grab hold of and enjoy, yet in-depth enough for us seasoned gamers to explore and master. I did feel limited at times, but never to the point of exhaustion. However, there were times where I would make a really cool level and then feel a bit empty and bored. I actually had more fun watching people try my levels, as opposed to playing the game itself. I also think Nintendo could make a killing if they offered more features later on as DLC (free or payed).
I do love the fact that each level your create can be shared with the community. I also love the fact that your level has to be beatable by you first before you are able to upload it. This means that every level you play online CAN be beaten, it's just a matter of figuring out how, no matter how trollzy. Let me tell you, people have made some very trollish levels, myself included. I find it so entertaining, albeit frustrating, to try and play/beat other people's levels. Some of these courses really test your Super Mario prowess and skills as a gamer. They also test your rage limit.
Nintendo, of course, included amiibo support in the game, allowing for every amiibo currently commercially available (and then some) to be used within the game as a costume in the Super Mario Bros. game style. It's a really neat feature in which they did a good job giving personality to each sprite, many with their own sound effects and up animations. Collecting all the amiibo sound expensive? No worries, you may also unlock all of these in-game through the "100 Mario Challenge". This mode is basically a gauntlet of 8 randomly selected, player-made courses of varying difficulty. You have 100 lives to get through all 8 in succession. This sounds easy right? Sometimes. Other times, oh man.. just get out! You will literally 'can't even' the further the difficulty goes up. Trust me.
For me, Super Mario Maker is a solid addition to the Nintendo library and definitely a game I can see people playing for years to come, with almost limitless possibilities and ideas.. as long as the community stays active. That's where I find some flaw in this game. While it has a lot of replay value, it is all dependent on the gamers and their creations. While this isn't something to even consider worrying about right now, the game ultimately holds no value on it's own outside of the creation tool. Everything else relies on you, your friends and the gaming community.
While I'm not really a Mario fan (Fun Fact: I actually despise Mario as a character in general) this game held a decent amount of fun for me. There is definitely enough here to keep your creativity buttons firmly pressed and hopefully there will be for some time to come. The execution is flawless, the polish is Nintendo-standard and the fun survives as long as the gamers stick around. Super Mario Maker gets a 3.5/5.
Also, if you'd like to try my two currently published levels as of writing this, enter the codes below and test your skills!
Short and Sassy - EE88-0000-005F-F7E6
My best friend, Hat. - 9F81-0000-00C3-4C7F