Super Mario Maker is a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Super Mario Bros. franchise and encompasses nearly everything that entails. The franchise was initially known for super-tight controls and some of the best level design ever made. It was also renowned for making sweeping visual changes with each new entry, adding little changes that added tons of replay value, and finding new ways to take gaming soundtracks to places they had never been before.

In the three decades since its debut, Super Mario Bros. has been remixed by Nintendo themselves in various ways officially. The original Super Mario Bros. 2 was just a revamped version of that game while Super Mario All-Stars gave the first three SMB games 16-bit facelifts and showed just how far graphics had advanced in that fairly short time frame.

Fans have done things like ROM hacks that completely reinvent classics, with things like Kaizo Mario taking an already-challenging series and making them nearly impossible.

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Gameplay

Super Mario Maker gives you two games in one to some degree, with one-half being a playable game and the other have been a comprehensive game creation tool. The game-playing portion of things is the least intimidating part of the package for most players because it’s the part they’ll be the most familiar with.

No matter what age group you’re in, you’ve likely played and enjoyed some Super Mario Bros. game. Maker lets you create worlds set in SMB 1, 3, and World styles for those seeking an approach from the 8 and 16-bit eras and New Super Mario Bros. content from players raised on those games.

Each setup can be mixed and matched to some degree, enabling things that couldn’t be done before.

Super Mario Maker allows you to do things you simply couldn’t do in the original games – like having a thwomp in the original game, or throw a Super Mario World version of Bowser throughout a stage.

You can also make ghost houses in the SMB 1 style, which is one of the best parts about crafting scenarios that couldn’t exist before.

You can also mix and match enemies together with various parts. If you want to have a piranha plant shoot fire, you can. If your dream stage involves a giant stack of enemies coming towards you with only one possible way to defeat them, then go for it.

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Storyline

You have the freedom to make stages as challenging as you want or as easy as you want with the tools. They’re incredibly user-friendly and exclusively use the Gamepad’s screen to get things done. A horizontal menu up top lets you pick which game style you want to use and drop-downs let you choose various parts to place in the world.

You can add level elements like bricks, power-up bricks, pipes, coins, beams, springboards, or combine things. If you want to put a mushroom inside every block, go ahead – or change it up with some 1-up mushrooms in there too.

If you have access to extra costumes via Amiibo, throw some in there for the stage as bonuses for hitting certain blocks and get through the stage using that other character’s costume.

The online setup for downloading stages is more than a little cumbersome because you can just search by creators – like you could for a YouTube channel creator you’re a fan of.

You have to use a complex code to do something that should be far simpler, and this substantially limits the exposure of creators and high-quality content for players.

Fortunately, there is a most downloaded field that allows you to at least figure out some of the highest-rated content along with little costume mushrooms that show you which stages you can unlock costumes for just for beating the level.

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One neat thing you can do is download stages if you so desire and then edit them. It is one way to teach yourself the creation tools in a way that goes beyond the already-extensive in-game help.

The included manual (which is also available as a free digital download from Nintendo if you buy the game on the eShop) explains things thoroughly too.

Much like spending half an hour talking to someone who is an expert in their field will allow you to learn more than spending two weeks with someone with average knowledge; you will learn the ins and outs of the tools just by seeing what has been done and studying it.

You might not think about something like adding a warp zone to send you to a different stage, or maybe configuring the toolset to craft a makeshift shooter with fire-spewing Mario riding around in a Bowser clown car. However, once you see it done, it seems far more doable, and you can unravel the puzzle by seeing it completed and then figure out how to make stages like that yourself.

The creation tools aren’t quite as all-encompassing as the ones in the actual games, though. Sloped surfaces are gone, as are the Super Mario Bros. 3 and World power-ups. Fortunately, there are so many new things added in that couldn’t be done before that the few omissions don’t hurt the overall game very much.

The only reason these issues even came to mind was an extended playthrough of the initial games, so casual players will likely never even notice them being gone to begin with.

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Visually, Super Mario Maker perfectly replicates the look of each game it’s styled after. Super Mario Bros. content looks exactly as it either did or would have had that content been available in the initial game. The same holds true for SMB 3, World, and the more modern-looking New Super Mario Bros. styles.

The animation is on-point too, and everything fits into each world seamlessly even when you’re just switching between each visual style in real-time in the game creation tool. It’s so much fun just to see what your level would look like in each style, and sometimes, you’ll tinker with each style before picking the best-looking one if you haven’t tailored the stage to work with that particular game’s power-ups.

Musically, there aren’t quite as many songs as there could be for each game, every song choice is memorable. The music is enhanced a bit with things like sound effects and fireworks that you can add to the game via block destruction and bouncy block hops.

It’s a little extra layer to new stages that was never possible before and allows for the creation of music-heavy levels akin to Rayman Legends and its fast-paced auto-scrolling music-filled stages.

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The Verdict

Super Mario Maker is a must-have for anyone who has ever enjoyed a Super Mario Bros. game. It combines the best platforming elements of the series into one game while allowing you to make essentially Super Mario games yourself.

With fan-made Mario games already out there, Nintendo creating an officially-licensed way to do that made sense, and they did an exceptional job with it. If you love Mario games and always wanted to try your hand at level creation, buy it as soon as possible because it’s the most user-friendly level creation tool ever released to the public.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Gameplay
10
Controls
10
Graphics
8
Sound
10
Replay Value
10

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