Building the night away with the very fresh Mario level builder.
Ever since I got my hands on Super Mario Maker at E3 2014, I was in love with the concept. The idea of building your own Mario levels from scratch seemed awesome and found myself creating some mean stuff at the every opportunity. When the chance rolled around to play the final game, I screamed yes and started building for a good few days. Now I have explored everything the game has on offer and found myself pretty satisfied so far.
You will likely know what Super Mario Maker is all about. With the Wii U GamePad at the ready, you will use the controller's touchscreen to craft levels from scratch. You will place blocks, enemies and objects into the landscape and try to give it an overall good structure. You can make levels as crazy or easy going as you want them to be and the fun part is just mixing up all the elements you have. You can give a Thwomp wings for example or hide a Hammer Bro in a Question Mark block to freak others out.
Unlike E3 or Gamescom, the final retail release of Super Mario Maker won't have everything unlocked from the start. After playing the game, I honestly think that is the best move. It asks you to learn the process of making a level and you will get rewarded with new daily tools to expand your horizon. I mean, it is cool to have everything from the first minute, but that can be honestly overwhelming. With every set, you will get a sample course and some ideas on what you can perhaps create. You will go from the basics to underwater and airships courses, which you will approach truly different. In the end, you will have like five rows of icons to pick from and one extra empty one to select the icons you will use the most.
Next to the tool sets, additional features will unlock every day to give you even more to play with. Naturally, the Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World play styles are the big thing here, but there is more. Options such as changing the amount of time for the level, enabling automatic scrolling or seeing Mario’s path will unlock during the first few days as well. The final unlock is, however, the most spectacular one. You will be able to add sounds and effects to your custom made courses and some of these are absolutely fantastic. There is a lightshow extravaganza, fireworks, wilhelm screams, holy lights, omnious atmospheres and so much more. Just like every other option in the game, you will get a different effect by shaking it, so be sure to try them all out. If that isn't enough, you can also your own three second sound clips, which allows you to give it a more personal touch. I just had a grin going through all of these options and it makes me very excited to see what people will make.
Something that you don't have to wait for is using the various amiibo that you have. With the Mystery Mushroom in the Super Mario Bros. style, you can bring your favorite characters to these sidescrolling levels. By tapping the specific amiibo once, you will unlock them as costumes in the game forever. When you drag a Mystery Mushroom to the playing field, you can tap it and choose the specific character that you want from a list. It is quick, painless and a great way to give your levels a twist.
While I can't talk about most of the characters today, I do want to highlight a few of them. Isabelle is one I unlocked by using the Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer card and it gave me adorable jingles when I dropped the costume on Mario and reached the flagpole. Most of the characters have this, including a certain tone for when they jump or do a stance. These stances can be actived by crouching or pressing up on the D-Pad. I love how Isabelle gives you a puzzled look when you press up and it gives this pixelated version its own flavour. Every characters has his/hers own animations when it comes to jumping, running and swimming and that is makes worth it to explore every single one.
Isabelle is just the start though. Another one I truly adored was Donkey Kong, who gives you a dumb look as he slides after running. His various sound effects come from the original Donkey Kong game and it is quite a feast of recognition. The tunes from Peach can be classified the same way as they all come from the western version of Super Mario Bros. 2. Other ones to look out for are Luigi, Link, Bowser, Wii Fit Trainer, Marth and Yoshi as I adore the little things about them. Even if you don't own amiibo, you won't be locked out of the Mystery Mushrooms. From the get go, you can transform into a Question Block, Jump Ramp or even a Goomba. By completing 100 Mario Challenges, you will unlock additional costumes to use and this goes far beyond what is offered by the amiibo themselves!
Speaking of the 100 Mario Challenge, let us discuss the Course World. This is where creators and players will meet one another to chat about levels. With the 100 Mario Challenge, you are presented with eight or sixteen different stages, chosen from the big variety made by players. While 100 lives seems like a lot, the courses can be very unpredictable. Some can be easily overcome, while others will put your Super Mario skills to the test. There isn't a fair balance yet, despite having various settings in place. This will likely get better once the game releases, but it remains to be seen. A nice touch is that you can save between levels and quit whenever you like. This allows you to endure the hardest levels in not just a single sitting and get back to the mode whenever you feel like it.
The other two sections put more focus on the creations and are named Courses and Makers. Courses allows you to find Featured, Highly Ranked and Up & Coming courses right on the Wii U GamePad screen. You can search by Location, Time Period and Difficulty to find the experience that you want to play. When you want to upload a level, you will need to play it first to ensure that others can beat it. After that, you will put a final name in and send it off Miiverse, which generates a post. Through this post, you will see how people reacted to the course and if they actually like it. Every post also has an ID, so you can look up levels from friends in the actual game.
The profile for every course is straightforward. You can see the basic layout of the course and the game where it all takes place. Next to that, there is a star count to see the amount of likes and footsteps to tell how many people played through it. If you fancy a closer look, you press the button and it expands with more options for you to gander upon. You can take a good look at who played/liked it, the clear rate and you can either download or play it from here. Considering you will have limited space for your own levels, that first option is really nice to have. It makes the amount of Mario levels you can play truly endless.
With Makers, you can see the best creative people in the Super Mario Maker business. All the Makers are ranked by the amount of liked they received this week and all-time and there is even an option to sort them by region. By pressing on a creators profile, you will be able to see all the courses he created and instantly play them right there. You can also follow them and keep track of them in the Following section of your Makers menu.
With every Maker, you can also see the courses that they have starred and the overall look at their Play Info. Here you will see the Mario Challenges that they have conquered and the courses that they have played in their lifetime. All of this is mostly the same in your own personal profile, but you will also be able to see all the stages you recently played. If you like to keep track of who has played your course, the notifications tab will keep you up to date while you play. It is also the place where Nintendo will send you news about the happenings surrounding all things Super Mario Maker!
The final section of the game is the 10 Mario Challenge, which is how you can unlock the various sample courses. Similar to the 100 Mario Challenge, you will play through eight levels here constantly. You will do this until you have unlocked the more than 60 stages available. Most of these stages aren't overly challenging and are just meant to give you some ideas for the future. It isn't very likely that you will return after you completed everything, but it is a nice way to introduce someone to the game without making things too complicated.
Super Mario Maker is shaping up to be quite a lovely package. With (hopefully) an endless amount of courses to play when the game releases, this game will both inspire creators and makers to make the best out of it. While nine days seems long to unlock of the tools available, you will gradually learn the ropes over the course of those same days. They will prepare you with sample courses and simple concepts and it is your task to start building right there. For some, this will be easier said than done and it depends a lot on your creativity to make it all work. Once you get into zone and get a correct feeling for it, you just can’t stop building and I wouldn’t trade that feeling for the world!