I've mentioned this before, but as someone who's creative in my daily life, I'm generally not very interested on games that are focused on creativity. So it took me a while before momentum had built up to the point where I broke down and picked up a copy of Super Mario Maker for Wii U. By that time a significant number of Miiverse friends had the game, and official courses had been released, including Event Courses, which grant you new costumes such as Daisy (heart, heart) and the Nintendo Badge Arcade bunny.
I was really glad that Mario Maker was different from a regular platformer, and really glad it's not just another New Super Mario Bros. game. The game actually throws in enough brand-new elements (and rarely seen elements, such as the awesome and classic Kuribo's Shoe) that just playing the included sample courses was entertaining. Making courses is pretty fun, although I don't have enough patience to actually sit down and come with anything really good. But it's fun to fool around with the different elements. A lot of people have complained about the slow rate of unlocking elements, but as someone who prefers focusing on small sets of elements anyway this didn't bother me at all.
But for me the main draw was always going to be the courses, and by now there's a nice number of official courses as well as some fantastic player-created courses. Some of the official courses are much more pain than pleasure, though. I spent a stupid amount of time beating one of the official courses, which has a 0.52% completion rate. I'm glad I can say I beat it, but I'm definitely not looking forward to the other official course with a similarly low completion rate. Playing through levels such as these, fun as some of them might be, brought up my main complaint with the game which is that even the hardest levels can be gotten through with enough repetition and memorization, so the overall experience isn't as much fun as a regular platformer because there's no story or different worlds or some other sense of progression.
The way that creators have used the Mario elements and created levels has been impressive, and I enjoy that the majority of them have a distinctly non-Nintendo feel. There's a lot of variety, and seeing what friends have created is fun (although why there's not friends list feature within the game is a bit of a mystery). It's also fun to see recreations of levels from other games, like Super Mario Bros. 2. The accompanying bookmark website is a great addition, as it makes it easy to queue up a bunch of courses you want to try out. Finding good courses to play is definitely not a problem, as there are features within the game and no shortage of sites (including the official site) posting their recommendations. One of the other complaints about the game is that creators can only upload a limited number of levels unless they get a certain number of stars (i.e. votes from other users). Since this is a way to force some self-regulated quality control I didn't have a problem with this, and if people stopped to think about it they would appreciate it rather than see it as a limitation.
I admit that I liked the game much more than I expected. I'm happy to have spent time playing through levels and I'll continue to dip back into the game as new event courses are released and more friends get the game. I don't feel the need to play through the practically infinite number of levels the game provides, but it will definitely be fascinating to see where Nintendo and Mario's classic platforming go from here.
Check out these creative Super Mario Maker links:
- Official website
- Miiverse community
- Who can forget what was the best ad for the game, aka the inclusion during the finals of the Nintendo World Championships at E3 2015? This was the first time I'd seen anything in the game that actually made me want to buy it.
- Review at NintendoLife
- Some course recommendations from Nintendo's official Facebook page
- Some course recommendations at kotaku.com