Mario Maker

Wii U


Mario Maker’s le­gacy, even if it achieves noth­ing else, will be its ex­po­sure of just how pre­car­i­ously Mario lev­els hang to­gether. A plat­form placed just a block’s width out of whack or a sin­gle en­emy not syn­chro­nised with other nearby trou­ble­mak­ers can play havoc with a level’s flow and leave play­ers feel­ing cheated. After toy­ing with our own con­struc­tions for a while, we cer­tainly have new­found re­spect for Nin­tendo’s level de­sign­ers.

While it may be tough to match Miyamoto and co’s ge­nius with­out prac­tice, Mario Maker at least makes it easy to start build­ing your own worlds. It’s helped along by Wii U’s GamePad, which might be strug­gling to jus­tify its ex­is­tence else­where, but proves an ideal tool here. A sim­ple in­ter­face lines up the var­i­ous block types, items and en­e­mies at your dis­posal across the top of the screen. Once one’s se­lected, you can tap to place it or drag it onto the edit­ing grid.

Some blocks are fixed to one size, while others, in­clud­ing earth and green pipes, can be stretched to your de­sired di­men­sions. Pleas­ingly, the chime that ac­com­pa­nies ev­ery place­ment stays in tune with the back­ground mu­sic, mak­ing the act of sim­ply plac­ing blocks a plea­sure. If you do get caught up in the melody and place too much, there’s an eraser (you can also dou­ble tap an item to delete it), an undo but­ton and even a screen­clear­ing rocket, should you need it.

Most of the avail­able brushes can be edited, so the di­rec­tion in which an el­e­va­tor moves, for ex­am­ple, can be changed by tap­ping on it, while green Koopas turn red if shaken. Mario can also be moved around and placed where you want, and shak­ing him will cause him to grow as if he’d just in­gested a Su­per Mush­room. You can add wings to any en­emy – in­clud­ing Pi­ranha Plants – and they’ll au­to­mat­i­cally trace a char­ac­ter­is­tic flight path through the level when you play it. Place wings on their own, how­ever, and they’ll cheer­ily flap off the top of the screen.

Switch­ing be­tween the edi­tor and Play mode is in­stant, so you can quickly playtest your fiendish as­sault course ( Mario Maker was orig­i­nally de­vel­oped as an in-house tool for de­sign teams, after all). But switch­ing back to the edi­tor after run­ning through a course re­veals Mario Maker’s best fea­ture: a time­line of your route is drawn across the level in a string of trans­par­ent Mar­ios, help­ing you nudge am­bi­tiously placed plat­forms and power-ups to within reach. Your qual­ity-as­sured ef­forts can be ren­dered in clas­sic Su­per Mario Bros or New Su­per Mario Bros skins – again, with in­stant switch­ing. Hope­fully, Nin­tendo will even­tu­ally in­tro­duce other styles – Pa­per Mario and Yoshi’s Is­land modes would cer­tainly get our at­ten­tion. Pro­ducer Takashi Tezuka has said that he wants to in­clude non- Mario graph­i­cal ap­proaches, too, though he’s been care­ful to stress that noth­ing has been fi­nalised yet.

Other com­po­nents in the plan­ning stage in­clude com­pos­ing your own mu­sic, and level shar­ing. Nin­tendo is re­main­ing se­cre­tive on the lat­ter, how­ever, re­fus­ing to con­firm any de­tails on ex­actly how it will work yet. Tezuka has, how­ever, stated that “shar­ing with friends is re­ally the whole point of mak­ing lev­els”, but the game’s suc­cess will rely on this be­ing as sim­ple as de­sign­ing a level in the first place – hav­ing to en­ter a 12-digit code, for in­stance, or be­ing lim­ited to only those in your friend list risks un­der­min­ing Mario Maker’s size­able ap­peal.

Even so, at this early stage Nin­tendo has ex­tracted a sur­pris­ing amount of mileage from the sim­ple act of muck­ing around with a lim­ited toolset. Mario’s in­her­ent charm un­doubt­edly props up this toy’s ap­peal, but if Nin­tendo can make Mario Maker as so­cial as the flag­ship Mario games – with level shar­ing, leader­boards and per­haps even down­load­able re­plays – this tool should give GamePads some long-over­due work­outs.

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