Super Mario Maker (Wii U) Review

By Adam Riley 03.09.2015 15

Review for Super Mario Maker on Wii U

"Let's Super Mario!" It's-a, time-a, for-a Super Mario Maker on Nintendo's Wii U. Woo-hoo! Cheesy fake-Italian accents aside, it is indeed the birthday of Mario - the 30th birthday, to be precise. Wow, has it seriously been five years since the Super Mario 25th Anniversary compilation package came out on Wii? Time does indeed fly, but rather than churn out another melee of dusty classics, Nintendo has decided to take a different slant and whack the old school Mario template onto a disc and put it firmly in the hands of gamers the world over to enjoy and tinker with. Super Mario Maker gives a starter-for-ten, but then leaves everything up to the end-user to get the most value out of this intriguing Wii U release. Does it prove too much work for not enough gain, or is the freedom a true breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale marketplace?

How many times over the years have people either thought a level in a particular Mario game was too tough and wanted to tweak things slightly to make it a bit more 'fair' or even mulled over how a new stage did not quite meet up to the standards set in older entries of the Nintendo mascot's universe, wanting to make the necessary amendments yet obviously having no choice but to soldier on regardless? Well, now that has all changed. That Nintendo Power is being firmly placed in the hands of the gaming public. Quite a daunting prospect, right? In fact, it actually is, and when starting up Super Mario Maker for the first time and wanting to delve straight into the depths of the creation tools, a massive blank may well be drawn. Where to start?

Everyone thinks they are the best designer, but when it comes to the crunch, building a smart level with enemies in key locations, moving platforms perched in such a manner as to warrant accurate jumping skills but nothing too unfair, power-ups both hidden or otherwise, and numerous other caveats to formulate a level like no other, is arduous, to say the least.

This is where Super Mario Maker immediately wins over some of its naysayers because right off the bat there are a wealth of pre-prepared stages across the Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U skin choices - 100 levels in total, albeit bite-sized affairs aimed at introducing people to the concept of stage design, more than anything. There are even random levels where it is total hands-off, watching as things go from start to finish, although whilst novel at first, these become a pointless addition very quickly, since who wants to merely sit back and watch? This is meant to be a hands-on sort of experience!

Screenshot for Super Mario Maker on Wii U

Dilemma time. Play the small tasters, fiddle around with the 'maker' aspect long enough to unlock newer pieces to do some trial-and-error work with (nine days to unlock all tools and graphical tiles is excessive, though, and may warrant some internal clock adjustments to bypass, á la Brain Trainin), watch the pre-recorded runs, or just wait until smarty-pants users from across all corners of the world have done all the hard work and enjoy their creations?

There is no doubt it will be enjoyable to mess with the mechanics - especially the parts where regular enemies and objects can be twisted and turned into never-before-seen forms - but there is limited scope to what can actually be done overall in the 2D Mario universe, without the proper knowhow. Whereas Nintendo's boffins spend years mastering the art of manipulating the world to offer up engaging arenas that leave the mind boggled and get the adrenaline pumping, no matter how intuitive the stylus-based controls are for level management (it seems Mario Paint-esque in many places), it will not take long before frustration kicks in and placing the odd block here and there, only to find they are in fact out of reach when doing a test run, will become irksome fast. Nintendo has attempted to alleviate concerns on this front by bringing in 'shadows' to highlight how far Mario can jump in differing circumstances, and 'quick fill' options to place blocks and erase them swiftly, so there has been a concerted effort to minimise the annoyance factor as much as possible, but obviously removing it completely is an impossibility because most will truck along without using them. With any luck, though, moments of magic like augmenting the soundtrack with pre-loaded sound effects and musical ditties, or even some snippets recorded via the GamePad, will work as enough of a distraction to 'charm' players sufficiently to wipe away the potential frustrating moments, or at least the memory of them. For the record, sound effects done via the GamePad's microphone are not included in online versions of courses, so the fun that could be had from sharing all sort of amusing or inappropriate utterances globally has been ruled out...

Screenshot for Super Mario Maker on Wii U

Super Mario Maker will become an expert's game, and everyone else will find it loses its muster over time...unless Nintendo whips out a whole batch of intriguing DLC and new stages, which is highly likely given its recent tactics to keep Splatoon and Mario Kart 8 alive and kicking. There is already amiibo interaction implemented (over 50 at current count), whereby 8-bit versions of other Nintendo characters can be brought into play, so there is scope for future expansions on that side. Also, could the 'personalisation' sections included have their restrictions removed with an update, allowing for more than one sound to be recorded using the GamePad and added to levels, or new graphical amendments permitted? For now, there are plenty of barriers in place and too many unknowns for the future. Buying a product with the hope that it fulfils its true potential further down the line is a bit too risky, but, fortunately, there is sufficient content currently to keep things ticking over for those that make the leap, leaving a pleasant taste on the palette when it comes to the value side of matters.

Online courses, it should be noted, have to be ones that creators can complete before being uploaded, making life easier as there was an initial fear of some horrendous dross being shoved onto the servers. Sure, there is no way to prevent boring content being upped, but there is the opportunity to better someone else's design, giving the chance to be all boastful when re-uploading, and the proof is in the pudding when checking out the ratings system - really helping to weasel out the really bad eggs, and allowing for the following of favoured content creators.

Screenshot for Super Mario Maker on Wii U

There is no real hand-holding, nor are there any in-depth tutorials, which might grate, especially for those unsure of where to start. Nintendo's approach is to drip-feed features instead, in the hope that between playing through the pre-installed stages, checking out others' creations, and then gaining access to new elements along the way, the process of learning will be a gradual and simple one. In reality, it does not quite work like that, and there is a chance that some will grow increasingly frustrated with the whole affair and either switch off entirely, or park it for a long while until other users have created sufficient content to make it worthwhile jumping back in. Nintendo being Nintendo, and normally loving the concept of painstakingly walking people through even the tiniest of details, has surprisingly changed its tact here, and possibly not for the better. After all, who buys the majority of Nintendo's games? The younger crowd. What does that group normally lack? Any shred of patience, especially for trial and error gameplay. Therein lies a major problem, but many will overlook this, and the price-point, because of the endless possibilities to be had, and simply because this is Mario, and most people's dreams have just come true.

Screenshot for Super Mario Maker on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

For all its drawbacks in terms of relying on the gamer to actually put in the effort to enjoy the experience, Super Mario Maker is a fresh approach to the old 'RPG Maker' mould, taking the key elements that any 'build-a-game' title requires and then making sure that there are sufficient in-built goodies to give those less inclined to while away the hours making new content a sense of value for money. Additionally, the online element for stage sharing, as well as potential for new extras to be unlocked via DLC, ensure that Nintendo's anniversary project will certainly not be resigned to a fate of 'dust collector' or 'drinks coaster' anytime soon.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (3 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

Comments

I've got this on pre-order but I don't think I'll actually play much of it at launch, as I'm certainly not the type of gamer who likes designing their own levels...no matter how good the level creator is. I'll try out some things, but for the most part this will be a game I'll play every now and then to see what the community or some of my friends have made. Unlike myself, there are lots of dedicated people out there that will make this game worth buying, which has been my mindset ever since it got announced.

This isn't very convenient to do, but I did read you can play around with the system clock to unlock all the content quicker. Not exactly quick and fun to do, but it's the only option really if you're dying to use more options on day 1.

Disappointed sound clips recorded from the gamepad don't share online. I understand why and I half-expected it, but it would have been really fun. Kind of takes away the point of that feature for me. They should have allowed it with friend sharing.

Sounds like a good package overall though. I think I'm going to enjoy it more than Little Big Planet for actually creating stages. The simplicity of Mario Maker makes it much more accessible, while still allowing for people to create some crazy stages.

SirLink said:
I've got this on pre-order but I don't think I'll actually play much of it at launch, as I'm certainly not the type of gamer who likes designing their own levels...no matter how good the level creator is.

That's part of the reasoning behind my overall score - it's got all the hallmarks of a classic Mario title, but there are severe limitations that a lot of buyers won't realise until it's too late. Hopefully there will be lots of user content online very quickly, or Nintendo will put up stages to fill the gap.
Marzy said:
This isn't very convenient to do, but I did read you can play around with the system clock to unlock all the content quicker. Not exactly quick and fun to do, but it's the only option really if you're dying to use more options on day 1.

I did the same with Brain Training on DS Smilie But it's an awkward process and most regular buyers either won't know how to do it, or won't be bothered.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Adam Riley said:

SirLink said:
I've got this on pre-order but I don't think I'll actually play much of it at launch, as I'm certainly not the type of gamer who likes designing their own levels...no matter how good the level creator is.

That's part of the reasoning behind my overall score - it's got all the hallmarks of a classic Mario title, but there are severe limitations that a lot of buyers won't realise until it's too late. Hopefully there will be lots of user content online very quickly, or Nintendo will put up stages to fill the gap.

To be fair, I didn't say that because I think there'll be a lack of good levels to play around launch, it's more because I'll be busy playing other games anyway, namely a highly anticipated replay of Xenoblade Chronicles. I even reserved a week off work just for that. Smilie

Ah, Xenoblade, how I miss that game. THAT's deserving of a 9 or 10, rather than Mario Maker. I've been reading lots of the 9 and 10/10 reviews and just shaking my head. This is in no way the most comprehensive 'maker' title by any means. People will no doubt make some fun stages, but there is no way the levels of mastery that Nintendo produces will be matched because of enforced limitations to prevent just that from happening. After all, nobody would buy the next Nintendo-made Mario, would they? Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Fair and solid review - I don't think I'd get this day one, it looks like a great experience, but I think I may just hold off a little - maybe get it for Christmas, would be a good one to tuck into alongside turkey and films. 

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

I saw on IGN that Amazon Prime members get $10 off their Super Mario Maker preorder.

Michael (guest) 03.09.2015#8

When I was a kid, my dad used to review movies for our local paper. If it was a kid's movie and school wasn't in session (and sometimes even if it was) he'd bring me along and I'd get to see the movie, too. This made all my friends jealous. I loved the movies. I guess I don't have my dad's critical eye. Anyway, he hated the kid's movies. In his reviews, he would always give them one to two-and-a-half stars and then complain and complain. The complaints started well before he ever got to his electronic typewriter. In the theater, he would sigh after every joke. I could feel his eyes roll with every expected plot turn. His love was foreign cinema. He tolerated American movies, but loathed children's films. I didn't think that was fair because a children's movies are different. The reason I bring this up is because this review reads a lot like my dad's review of children's movies. It's clear the writer here doesn't like "build-a-game" games. I didn't think it was fair that my dad always gave children's movies a bad score because they didn't compare to the foreign masterpieces he loved so much. Likewise, I think this critic lets his own biases cloud his judgment of this game.

I know where you're coming from, Michael, but I actually do like build-a-game titles. The problem is that this one is far too restricted for its own good and tries to fob people off by throwing in some pre-built stages, rather than guiding them carefully through the elements for making stages...and even then it holds back a lot, meaning 9/10 people will struggle to do anything more than make a linear level with some weird and wacky variations on characters they grew up playing with. There are some amazing 'DIY' style affairs out there, with even Nintendo's WarioWare DIY being one such example, and the fantastic RPG Maker series being another.

This, ultimately, is a solid game with a solid enough 'maker' element included, but it's nowhere near the perfection other reviewers are making it out to be. For me, personally, I'm reading other people's reviews and thinking 'They've never played a build-it-yourself game before'...everyone keeps citing Little Big Planet, and that's it. How about the amazing track building section that Firebrand put into titles like TrackMania and Race Driver: Race and Create on the humble DS? Those are how you can put together not only something that engages people enough to make them feel like creating is fun, but something that has a full game included as well, rather than short demo-style affairs.

So yeah, I get where you're coming from, and sorry it sounds like I'm your dad in this particular review, but I have indeed played numerous games of this ilk and feel that this example isn't the sheer perfection others are making it out to be.

It's a 'Very Good' title overall, which falls into our 7/10 category.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]
Our member of the week

This is fair in my opinion, as it is true that the people who will get the most enjoyment out of this are likely few. Personally I don't see myself enjoying this quite much for the creation aspect of things. But more for trying out great creations from great creators, being put online for people to try. I tried my hand myself at a Super Mario World editor program in the past, for creating my own courses (that's on PC obviously) and finding it indeed really hard to make something really good myself. I've been playing full games however made by other people using the same tools, which defy Nintendo's finest Mario moments in terms of pretty much every aspect of them. And that's the kind of experience I'd be hoping to find through Super Mario Maker.

But I guess it's a bit early to judge that aspect of things, the game not being officially out yet, I guess there can't be too many great creations already put up on there yet, if any at all, as I don't know if the online was already open in time for this review? I take it that yes from reading the aforementioned since the rating system was mentioned.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

I think the possibility of DLC is definitely there further down the line. There's lots of content they can still add and maybe they didn't want to throw too much in there to complicate things at first. Just like they've done with the unlocking of content over time.

I'd love the ability to add slopes, add checkpoints and also have some more choice in level type, like snow and desert. I guess the problem is that all the different Mario styles need to work. For example, did Super Mario Bros have slopes? Super Mario Bros 3, World and NSMB do. Same for desert and snow type levels, Super Mario Bros didn't have those either. So how would it convert those? Maybe this is the reason that stopped it from having extra content we see in newer 2D Mario's.

( Edited 04.09.2015 14:29 by Marzy )

Jay (guest) 21.09.2015#12

You're right. Super mario bros didnt have slopes nor did it have desert or snow levels, BUT it also didnt have the ghost houses or boos but they are in super mario maker and they translate very well into the smb skin (actually kinda creepy) so i dont think thats why they didnt add the other content. I think it could be just a chance to add some dlc and to see how well over smm goes. Maybe they are saving it for a part 2? Who knows, other than nintendo. Personally, i love the game and love seeing some of the creations others have come up with. It really is amazing to see how creative people are with a mario game.

I've never known what to think of Super Mario Maker, because I've used Lunar Magic to craft my own harder version of Super Mario World, aiming for something more like The Lost Levels than Kaizo Mario. Lunar Magic is free, extraordinarily powerful, and relatively easy to use--it's not any more complex than RPG Maker, at least. Super Mario Maker initially made me ask myself: "How would people react if Bethesda had sold the Skyrim Creator's Kit for $50?"

Because that's really what this is, in a way, only more limited and by Nintendo, featuring Mario, so these things get overlooked. I grew up with Nintendo; I love Nintendo. The NES and SNES probably spent more time raising me than my parents did. But I simply can't look at their actions in recent years and say, "Yeah, that's perfectly fine," because we would crucify Bethesda, EA, Ubisoft, or any other company if they tried this. I don't think the gaming world is doing Nintendo any favors by letting them get away with things that we'd basically revolt on EA or Ubisoft for trying.

Although this is rare in that it's available for a console (the substantially-more-powerful but also impossible-to-use-effectively RPG Maker 2 was on PS2, as well), it's certainly not unique, except that it's endorsed by Nintendo. I kinda feel like it's simply that endorsement that people are buying, because SMM could never be as powerful as Lunar Magic.

Granted, I'm clearly not the target audience. The people who did want to make an in-depth Mario game/level have pretty much already done so with LM. So I think you hit the nail right on the head (excellent quip about young people, btw Smilie) that it's mostly for younger audiences and is meant as a novelty more than a serious platform for level design. I don't take issue with what it is, I just don't get it, and it causes me to think it costs at least twice what it should. Or infinitely more than it should, because we would rip other game companies to pieces if they sold us a SDK for their games, no matter how streamlined they made it before selling it to us. So I don't know what to think. I'm confused by its existence. lol

And I don't say that facetiously. I genuinely don't get it.

Edit: Fixed a number of mistakes.

( Edited 02.12.2015 05:35 by Anema86 )

Has Anyone Really Been Far Even as Decided to Use Even Go Want to do Look More Like?

I think you have to consider Nintendo's general audience. Although the average age of a Wii U owner is actually pretty high, going off previous supposed stats because of the old-school hardcore Ninty fans that have bought it, it's not like most kids that play Mario would likely have access to PCs and level editors or know how to download, set up, and create. I think Mario Maker makes the whole process extremely simple for that child audience. Sure, you don't have the freedom of Super Demo World, but I think they sacrifice that for ease of use for the youngest of Mario players.

And frankly, this hits an audience that likely can't be arsed doing it all on PC. The audience might not generally play on PC, so at least this level editor title is reaching the exact people Nintendo wants it to hit - Nintendo and Mario fans.

I still haven't put much time into this at all tbh, even tho I thought I would. I would kill for a Yoshi's Island theme (without any Baby Mario crap - just the level design style).
 

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