So here’s the thing about Super Mario Maker: you can never go back.There’s no putting the toothpaste back in the tube. Once you know that you can make Super Mario Bros. levels, you can’t just play Super Mario Bros.anymore. I know this because I tried. For funsies, I revisited Super Mario Bros. 1, and immediately, I sized everything up with Maker eyes:
“It’d be cool if they put an invisible block here…”
“I wonder if a second Koopa Troopa here would trip you up…”
“THIS WOULD KICK ASS WITH MORE FIRE FIRE FIIIIRRRRREEEEEEEE”
You get the point.
Super Mario Maker is the perfect tool; you’re given damn near every enemy, background, foreground, process, brick, block and powerup that you encountered in Super Mario Bros. 1, 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U. You could make (and I have) a level where there’s no ground and in order to move forward, you’ve got to bounce from one enemy to the next, all while somehow dodging flying Bloopers that Lakitu is throwing at you.
Or you could make a level like this, which took people 11,000+ tries before anyone beat it. And even then, it was beaten by a speedrunner:
The game has a built-in content gate, so not all of the game elements unlock at once (you can’t make a 500-long fire bar hallway until day four). Initially in the preview build and even the retail copy, it took a total of nine (excruciating) days to unlock all of the Super Mario Maker elements. Day one, you’d start with Super Mario Bros. 1 World 1-1 blocks, enemies, terrain and (some) powerups. As you played, you’d queue “deliveries” of new content – underground elements, underwater, castle, SMB3, sub-worlds and so on. There’s word that Nintendo has since patched the game to unlock elements more quickly (but I’m still on the slow boat in the retail build).
The building feels incredibly intuitive and smooth. You’re using a palette of elements right there on the WiiU gamepad, and it’s such an easy system that my 6 year old is able to make a start-to-finish level without my help. Nintendo has always been great at accessibility like that.