Thursday, 7 January 2016

Super Mario Maker: "We give up, make your own"

So to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Super Mario Brothers on the NES, we got what can be described as a dev kit. Actually it was a dev kit until the team decided to merge it with the plans for a sequel to Mario Paint. To be fair, to those who hate it, it could be worse. There could be no mention of an anniversary, let alone a game, and trust me when I say that there are a lot of games that get that treatment. So now that the game has been out for a while, let's see what the community can do.

In terms of making levels, the tools couldn't be any simpler. You use the stylus to control everything, and I mean everything. You place every block, enemy, power up, everything the game has in a grid, akin to how the older games were designed. However unlike the older games, you have a lot more creative control with what little you do have. This game does not have every feature from the four available theme, those being Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros U. Many things are still missing, some of which I'd like to see like other world types like Ice and Jungle, along with slopes, but you can still affect the terrain in new ways. Want to see a Koopa Trooper with a Bullet Bill cannon on his back? Sure. Goombas in water levels? Easy. Or how about Power ups and pirahna plants flying Koopa Clown cars? All of that can be done and more, the only limit is your imagination... and the amount of things the game will allow you to have in one level, you can't have an infinite tower of Bowsers for example. The tool set is fine and sports some great remixes, but there is potential for new assets (like slopes) to be added in later.

With the dev tool out of the way, what have people been making... well...While I can't really sugar coat this, while my personal experiences have been okay for the most part, I haven't really been looking. Some levels are really well done, and others have had really interesting ideas behind them, there are many, many, MANY others that I, and many others, can say that aren't. There are a lot of gimmick levels like songs played in the game using note blocks, automatic levels (which you'll see a lot of in the game's easy mode for 100 mario challenge, which is just the game picking levels for you to complete in order to get an amiibo costume. I swear I had a run where all but two levels were automatic ones). Some are nice, solid Mario challenges, but for every one of those, another 100 is trying to be Kaizo Mario, and failing. I haven't played the expert levels in Mario Maker for that reason. Now thankfully there are developer made levels, some of which get you more costumes for Super Mario Bros 1's theme. This is a case by case situation, but do be careful.

You get as much out of Super Mario Maker as you put in, that's the nature of the game. You're either going to love it because you enjoy making levels, and RNG has been kind to you when it comes to finding levels, or you're going to hate it for the exact opposite. To those wondering, yes I have made a Mario Maker course, it's something I intend to improve on, but if you want to play it. The code's here: 7EFC-0000-0165-CF2F. I encourage you to try it, like with the site, I welcome feedback and will probably use it to make more. I'm not sure if I'll post them here, but maybe, we'll see what happens. For now, we have a galaxy far, far away to return to with Star Wars: Revenge of the Clones.

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