There is no denying that the Super Mario Bros series is the most iconic and memorable game franchise in the world. The series's first title almost single-handedly brought the video game market back from the brink of extinction after the infamous video game crash of '83, and it has continued to thrive and find even more fans to this day. Even Mario, the series's titular star, has been shown to rival Mickey Mouse in terms of both familiarity and popularity. So, will it be no surprise that that a game celebrating Super Mario Bros's 30th anniversary would do well despite how poorly the Wii U's sales had been until this point? Well I've spent a fair amount of time with this game and I think I can give a solid answer...
Super Mario Maker is not your conventional Mario game. While it still has all of the familiar gameplay elements of past 2D entries, this title is allows you to make, customize, and save up to 120 of your own stages in one of four different styles based around past games in the series's history. These styles all also have their own unique play mechanics that make the game play a little more like the game that the theme originates from. For instance:
- Super Mario Bros: Has the most basic control scheme and you can't grab or hold objects.
- Super Mario Bros 3: Gabbing objects is possible and has a power meter to use for flight.
- Super Mario World: Same as Mario 3, but adds a spin jump and the ability to throw grabbed items upward.
- New Super Mario Bros U: Flight and upward throwing are absent, but adds wall jumping and the ability to ground-pound.
Each of these themes adds a subtle level of variety that perfectly encompasses most if not all of the 2D main series games. There are also sixty different objects that you place in each theme and six different theme sets that you can use for each overall style, but you have to unlock them over continued use of the stage maker; this will take around 2.5 to 3 hours. Most of these objects (specifically enemies and platforms) also have alternate forms that you can access by shaking them. This allows for even more variety than what was initially thought, especially since that many enemies can be altered even further by stacking them on top of each other like totem pole, powering them up with a mushroom or wings, placing them in Lakitu's cloud or a Koopa Clown Car, or even by having them launch out of a Bill Blaster. This has sparked a lot of creativity as I was making stages of my own. I even spiced things up further thanks to the sound effects that can be applied to just about everything.
Also, each game style has their own unique power-ups. While Mario 3, Mario World, and Mario U all have a flight themed power-up like a Super Leaf, Super Feather, or Propeller Mushroom respectively, the Mario 1 theme has three special power-ups designed specifically for it:
- Weird Mushroom: Makes Mario very tall and lanky, but greatly increases his jump height.
- Mystery Mushroom: Gives Mario one of 99+ special costumes based on amiibo and various other Nintendo characters. Pressing Up while wearing one will make Mario pose. Most of these costumes also have unique sound effects, death music, and victory jingles.
- Big Mushroom: Turns Mario into Big Mario which is kind of like a cross between Super Mario and Mega Mario. His increased size and weight can destroy unbreakable blocks and bricks and can even break them from the side or from above, but it can only be accessed with the help of one of the two 30th Anniversary Mario amiibo.
Well, say you don't want to make any stages and just want to play the game. Well Nintendo has that covered too. There are sixty-four pre-made sample courses you can play via the game's Coursebot or from the game's 10 Mario Challenge mode. Replaying through 10 Mario Challenge repeatedly unlocks more and more sample stages that you can play or edit and once you unlock them all, an additional four stages become available as a bonus. These four stages are the same stages that were shown off in the 2015 Nintendo World Championships. How's THAT for a bonus unlockable?
Now, if you ever get bored of any of the sample stages, you can also play the courses uploaded to the game's server via the Course World where you can find specific stages by using a 16-character code, follow your favorite creators, or even download your favorite courses to save for later. You can also play the 100 Mario Challenge game mode here. "Now what is the difference between the 10 Mario and 100 Mario Challenges anyway?" you may ask. Well, the 100 Mario version only picks the user created stages that have been uploaded to the servers and are set to specific difficulties depending on the stage's clear rate percentage. Also, each time you complete this game mode, you unlock one additional costume for the Mystery Mushroom.
There is just so much that can be done with this game's robust editor. When online, I have seen stages that build themselves as you progress, stages that completely invert when you enter a pipe, stages based on other games, and stages that even play themselves. There is even a hidden mini-game that you can randomly access while fiddling with the objects in the editor. This is by far the best thing Nintendo could've done to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Super Mario Bros and I HIGHLY suggest that you get it, but until then, I'll be seeing you.