Punishing Mario in New Ways
This year at E3 2015, we had a chance to play a game that is far more fun than it has any right to be: Super Mario Maker . You may remember this game, which was just called Mario Maker at the time, from last year’s E3. Back then, it was just a very bare bones level creator that made very rudimentary Super Mario Bros. 1 levels. I said that it could very well become the most addictive Mario game ever made, as long as they expanded the editing capabilities and added more power-ups and obstacles. Well, that’s exactly what they did, and as a result, it’s as addictive as I always thought it would be.
Before you even start to make a stage, you have to pick a theme. Current themes include Super Mario Bros. , Super Mario Bros 3 , Super Mario World , and New Super Mario Bros U. About a year ago, these themes were merely aesthetic. However, now they change what power-ups you can play around with. The Super Mario World theme, for example, allows you to place power-ups like Yoshis and capes, and allows Mario to spin jump while playing the level. New Super Mario Bros. U allows you to use power-ups like the ice flower and propeller hat, while Super Mario 3 will give you items such as the Tanooki suit.
Unfortunately, this means you cannot play any level in any theme. When you pick a level made by another person, you must play in the theme they chose. You can download them and attempt to convert them into another theme, but note that certain things will disappear. For example, if your level has Yoshi in it and you change it to a basic Super Mario Bros. theme, Yoshi will disappear, replaced instead with a boo.
There are a number of new items that are available in all themes, however. For example, Mario can now climb into a koopa clown car or a lakitu cloud, he can wear a buzzy beetle helmet, eat a mushroom that makes him thin, and then there is the new mystery mushroom. The mystery mushroom allows you to turn into another character that you have the amiibo for. So, for example, if you have a Wii Fit Trainer amiibo, you can use a mystery mushroom that turns Mario into the Wii Fit Trainer and grants him extra abilities along with it. Super Mario Maker will have its own amiibo, a giant eight-bit Mario amiibo, and using it allows you to create a mushroom that, of course, turns you giant.
As far as level editor options go, you can do just about anything. You can put almost anything in pipes, blocks, or bullet bill launchers, from enemies, to coins, to power-ups. You can make pipes into warps that take you to subterranean levels and bring you to other portions of the level you were just in. You can give anything wings to make it fly, turn anything into a giant world version of itself, and even rudimentarily alter enemy A.I. and create your own bosses.
While you fool around with enemies and stage layout, a simple press of a button allows you to try out your stage. When you go back into the editor, it will show you the last path that Mario took. This way you can do things like make a jump and then place platforms in the way of that jump in order to create a precision platforming course.
But with enough knowhow you can make courses very unlike anything you have seen in Mario games before. For example, one of the courses I played featured Mario in a clown car, wearing armor, and essentially playing bumper cars on his way toward the goal, dodging fireballs as if he were in some sort of bullet hell game. Another stage I played required me to do nothing but run. It had a ton of threats that made me want to look back, from lava balls to boos, but as long as I kept running forward the level completed itself. It was sort of a fear test. Finally, there was a level that simply allowed Mario to “surf” on enemies. If he did nothing, the level completed itself like a Rube Goldberg device. There were so many other interesting levels, like racing levels and mazes of doors, and before we stepped away, we had to make our own.
The Cheat Code Central level is a particularly devious gauntlet of thwomps that start falling as soon as you enter the level. The thwomps are arranged at different heights, and the height lets you know whether you need to be walking or running past them. Then, I placed cannons of varying heights around the stage. The height of these cannons determines whether or not they shoot enemies or invincibility stars at you. Finally, the entire level is littered with goombas. Jumping on them will allow you to easily wrack up one ups, but puts you in the path of the thwomps. Finally, the end of the level requires you to find one pipe amidst all the thwomps that leads to the goal.
While particularly sadistic, I enjoyed playing it, and the people who stepped up to the demo booth after me did as well. If you are reading this and E3 is still going on, check it out yourself!
Super Mario Maker will release this September.