Super Mario Maker – Super ROM Hack Bros..
I’m usually not a big fan of game editors. Either the kits are too simple and do not allow any real creative development or they break my motivation with infinitely complex mechanisms that justify my own courses.
Accordingly, my anticipation when Super Mario Maker was announced was low. Set individual blocks meticulously and keep repeating jumps to get the perfect level structure? Not my thing. I was also hardly interested in the levels created by other players. After all, there have been countless Rome hacks for years that satisfy my craving for almost unfair levels of difficulty. So why get Super Mario Maker?
That’s my attitude. At least until the screening at the final of the Nintendo World Championships 2015, which took place the day before this year’s E3. There, the last two opponents of the event fought for victory and had to compete against each other in four brutal stages. These levels showed for the first time the crazy ideas that Super Mario Maker makes possible. For example, grab a Koopa Troopa, enlarge it with a mushroom and then grab the guy between four other completely different enemies. Or you stack dozens of piranha plants to form an insurmountable wall and put them on a flying hammer brother.
The nasty levels not only made for extremely entertaining moments, they finally aroused my interest in the game. Suddenly I was completely thrilled by a title that moments before I had described as completely superfluous. Of course, just looking at it is not enough to make a firm judgment. Fortunately, I was able to play Super Mario Maker extensively and in peace shortly after the hustle and bustle of E3. The mere fact that I started the demo version, which is limited to 20 minutes, three times should prove my euphoria.
While I wanted to master the tricky levels of the Nintendo World Championships first, my curiosity about the editor grew. Would it really be that easy to create such complicated levels, or would the number of different tools and options directly overwhelm me?
Well, less than 20 minutes passed and I already placed the last blocks of my first stage, the length of which could keep up with the pre-prepared courses. The parkour consisted only of blocks floating freely in the air and goombas, which had to be jumped almost perfectly in one go. So how could I find out such precise positions in such a short time?
In order for a level to be published, its creator must finish it at least once.
The answer is as simple as it is ingenious, and for me it is by far the best feature of the entire game. You can switch between editor and game mode at any time to test your creation. Now jump at full speed at the end of a platform, then let yourself fall into the abyss and quickly return to editor mode. At the push of a button, you can view every single frame of Mario’s previously executed movements, which makes placing the next platform incredibly easy. You repeat this process for each maneuver and in no time you conjure up complex constructions on the screen that would have driven you to the brink of nervous breakdown in other level editors.
The rest of the operation is also a prime example of intuitiveness. For example, instead of packing the different variants of enemies or objects into hideously nested menus, you naturally combine a mushroom with the Goomba on your map to enlarge it. In this way, the developers keep the interface slim and at the same time encourage the joy of experimentation, as you feel inspired to try new combinations in the role of the hobbyist.
The whole game is designed to support your creativity. How often have you had a cool idea in another editor, only to discard the approach a little later because you weren’t even sure whether the project was feasible? In Super Mario Maker, every idea takes less than five minutes to realize the prototype. As soon as you have an idea, you can easily transfer it to your levels.
Activating certain blocks even turns you into other Nintendo characters like Link, which of course has an impact on the gameplay. Fantastic!
I was also very impressed by the implementation of different types of physics. In total, the templates from four Mario games are available to you. Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U all have their own jumping mechanics for an authentic feel. The same goes for their skills. While the more methodical movement of Super Mario World enables more trick levels, you can create areas in Super Meat Boy style with New Super Mario Bros. and the wall jumps introduced there.
In the demo it was unfortunately not feasible to switch between the game styles within a stage, but the rather silent answers to my questions in this regard certainly do not rule out such a feature in the finished version. Until the release on September 11th, 2015 – better not ask – there is still some time and I personally hope that one or the other surprise will follow.
Two weeks ago I belonged to the camp of skeptics, who saw Super Mario Maker as a nice pastime, and now I’m already writing about my almost fanatical obsession. I would never have thought of having so much fun with an editor that is as diverse as it is intuitive. If, like me, you deleted the title from your wish list at an early stage, now would be the right time for a revision.
Order Super Mario Maker from Amazon