|System: Wii U|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
Ever wanted to make your own Mario stages? Enamored with fan hacks that require you to make the exact precise moves every single second just to advance? Want to create a Mario marathon level that is really too long for its own good? Then Mario Maker is the game for you, and we got to see the game in action at E3 this year.
Mario Maker really does what it says on the tin. It is a creation tool that allows you to easily make your own Super Mario Bros. levels. You can make them either in classic Super Mario Bros. 1 style, or in New Super Mario Bros. style, but the only thing that changes is the aesthetic. The physics are the same. The mechanics are the same. The only limitation is your imagination, or your sadomasochistic tendencies.
The stage is made using the Wii U gamepad’s touch screen, and it couldn’t be simpler. You are given a Mario Paint style palette of objects and enemies, and all you need to do to add one to the stage is drag and drop. If you want to make a platform, all you have to do is draw it. If you want to place a power-up block, just tap to put it there. Place a hidden block? Just tap where you want it to be. The same holds true for basically anything you could possibly think of from flying enemies (you can put wings on any enemy in the game), to pipes, to piranha plants, and so forth.
Of course, not every level idea is a winner. Good levels require lots and lots of testing. So you can stop designing at any point and test your own level with the push of a button. You will be doing this a lot, as it’s easy to make a gap that you can’t jump or an onslaught of enemies that you can’t bypass no matter how hard you try.
The game is notably not complete. The range of tools that we were able to play with was severely limited. However, Nintendo reps said that eventually Mario Maker would include more power-ups, warps, secret areas, blocks, enemies, and more. They couldn’t comment on whether or not you’d be able to use Mario 2 style pick up and throw mechanics, however.
It’s hard to judge how much fun Mario Maker is going to be. Much like LittleBigPlanet, the game is going to hinge on its community. Inevitably, there will be gamers who craft well-made games that rival the original Mario Bros. with interesting boss encounters, interesting secrets, and awesome stage layouts. However, there will be just as many people who simply make Mario levels that are shaped like male genetalia, if you know what I mean. Nintendo was not ready to share details on how level sharing would work, which somewhat worries me. This game doesn’t really work without a very competent community sharing system. We need an easy way to sort through the garbage and get to the good stuff, and Nintendo has not had the best track record with online features thus far.
As it stands, Mario Maker is currently a game of potential and not much more. The prospect of making your own custom power-ups is cool. The prospect of warping to other levels is cool. The prospect of making your own custom boss fights is cool. But none of this is currently implemented in the game. For now, all you have access to is a couple blocks, a couple enemies, and the terrain. I hate to say it, but this has been done before in flash game after Mario hack after fan created game, and these games are free.
So the deciding factor here is going to be whether or not Nintendo gives us more than what the fans already have. If they truly do make it easy to create our own Mario game from scratch, right down to the mechanics, then it will be a hit. Heck, I can’t wait to make games that are more reminiscent of Super Mario Land 2. However, if all we can do is make levels that play like the original Super Mario Bros. 1, well, we can already do that, and we have.
Can Nintendo outpace the fan community? We will have to wait and see.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: June 12, 2014