Super Mario Bros. is the first video game I can remember ever playing. I was just a kid, and we were at the children’s hospital for my sister. We went down to the play area, and that’s where I discovered it. I was fascinated. I just couldn’t get over the fact that I was moving images on the screen. I ended up not getting a Nintendo console until the GameCube. By that time, I’d forgotten all about Mario, having taken the Sony route. With the release of Super Mario Maker, Nintendo has made me a fan again.
My wife’s not very interested in video games, but Mario is the one exception. She’s played a ton of the games all the way through multiple times. I’ve watched her playing them, and I’ve done a level here and there, but the games have never really grabbed me. Despite this, I was intrigued when I saw Super Mario Maker. The Mario aspect of it wasn’t appealing, but the ability to build levels seemed like fun. Since my wife had run out of Mario games to play, it seemed like a good idea to get a game that could conceivably produce endless Mario levels. I knew she’d enjoy it, but I didn’t realize the effect it would have on me.
This is what the creation view looks like.
I’ve always enjoyed building and customization options in games, so I was excited to get my hands on the editing tools of the game. If you haven’t gotten a chance to play the game yourself, you’re given a set of building materials to choose from at the top of the game-pad. You can drag and drop these to different squares in the level. There is a little more to it than just that though. You also have control over which version of Mario (the options are Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U), what type of level (Ground, Underground, Underwater, Ghost House, Airship, and Castle), and some extra options that have never been in previous games. It’s these extra options that really make the game shine. Want a bullet bill launcher that fires giant goombas? You can do that. How about a coin piloting a Koopa clown car? You can also do that. These absurd possibilities make me feel like a kid again.
Things can definitely get wild.
Mario first held my attention and utterly fascinated me, because it let me do something that I didn’t think I was allowed to do. As far as I knew up to that point, you couldn’t manipulate images on a TV screen. Mario changed that for me. Now, over fifteen years later, Mario is again letting me do something that I didn’t think I was allowed to do. There have been plenty of games built for the sole purpose of building. Just take a look at Terraria or Minecraft. What I haven’t seen before, is a high profile video game series hand over creative power to the user. Nintendo has led us behind the curtain and given us control of something we never thought we’d be allowed to control. These are the kinds of decisions that cause people to fall in love with Nintendo.
After having spent a fair amount of time with the game, I suddenly understood why people liked the Mario games. Once I had seen what went into creating the levels, I had an appreciation for the design found in the previous games. I decided to go back and give Mario a proper chance. It was different to transition from the wackiness of levels found in Super Mario Maker to the uniform levels in other games, but it was still a lot fun. Although in some ways, I feel like I’ve already ruined my chances of having a pure experience with past Mario games. I’ve already jumped to the conclusion of the games’ progression. Going back to linear levels and being locked to one style seems like a step backwards. I’ll still enjoy the games, but not as much as others who have followed them all along. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not deeply excited to follow the series from this point forward.
If you’re a massive Mario fan or if you’ve never gotten into the series, give Super Mario Maker a shot. It really is a unique gaming experience. It’s given me a glimpse into both Mario and level design; causing me to have a greater respect for both. Nintendo took a risk and opened the doors to one of their most beloved franchises. In the case of myself, it gained them a new fan. Super Mario Maker is currently $56.00 and can be purchased here.
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