Super Mario Maker is a pretty powerful level-making game. It’s on the Wii U, so it obviously makes use of the GamePad controller and stylus in order to give players direct touch control for building levels. It combines items, themes and graphics from four separate Super Mario titles, too. You can build levels using tools from Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. U.
There’s a lot of content offered in the game; but, really, I wish Nintendo had gone just a touch further.
Yes, it’s absolutely amazing that you can cram Bloopers into pipes and have them shoot out at unsuspecting Marios, but there are some even more basic concepts missing from this game. The best platformers introduce new mechanics at regular clips. Simply running and jumping isn’t enough, and the Super Mario series has always been great about making players do just a little bit more.
These are the things I wish Nintendo had included in Super Mario Maker.
7/6. SAND AND ICE
Nintendo did fine with the templates they included in Super Mario Maker, but there’s always room for more. So far, we have the basic above ground levels, underground levels, underwater, castles, ghost houses and airships.
What’s missing? Well, a lot. There are no straight cloud themes, for instance. You might remember the cloud world from Super Mario Bros. 3. Honestly, I’m fine with this one’s absence.
Instead, what about the desert and snow templates? Every single Super Mario game since the first on the NES has had snow levels. Super Mario Bros. 3 introduced the desert kingdoms, and they’ve been a series staple, too.
The snow and desert templates offer mechanics that take the standard platformer and hurl it in different directions. The desert boasts stuff like quicksand and tornadoes, while the snow offers slippery surfaces, falling icicles and a complete change in vibe.
Now, you have access to ice blocks in Super Mario Maker, but the snow stuff stops there. In platformers like Mario, the fun comes from the evolution of challenge. As each game progresses, its themes give way to the invention of new mechanics that put a spin on platforming.
You might be able to push players into running faster and being less cautious, for instance, by making the ground entirely quicksand. Or, like in Super Mario Bros. 3, the falling quicksand could lead to secrets below the surface of each level.
The snow and desert templates would keep Super Mario Maker fresh visually, but they’d also afford players a completely new range of tools to toy with. Let’s hope for some downloadable content—or a sequel!
5. THE ANGRY SUN
Just like the snow and desert templates give users access to more thematic mechanics, Super Mario Maker could do with some more compelling gameplay changers.
The two in-level oddities I’d like to see added to the game both started in Super Mario Bros. 3. I’ll start with one of them: the Angry Sun that plagues players in some levels.
The Angry Sun essentially chases players across levels by flying overhead and swooping down randomly to deal damage. Much like the aforementioned quicksand in the desert levels, the Sun would push players to throw caution to the wind and stay on the move. That makes platforming tougher by requiring quicker precision.
4. A QUICK DIP
The second tool? Above ground water! Right now in Super Mario Maker, the only way you can have water in a level is by choosing the underwater theme. There’s no swimming to the surface of the water and jumping out, and there’s no way to actually have water serve as the bottom of your level instead of bottomless pits.
Above ground water would let players make use of the giant fish that follows Mario around levels. It would also let players do things like create log flume style levels or let players swim up waterfalls to secret locations.
3. A PENGUIN, A FROG AND A TANOOKI WALK INTO A BAR…
There’s a fair amount of power-ups in Super Mario Maker, for sure. However, some of the best suits in the series were left out. Again, all of these things alter gameplay in compelling ways, and that’s what leads to the longevity of platformers.
I’ll start with the Tanooki Suit. Initially, this power-up seems like little more than a fuller version of the Racoon Tail. However, pressing up on the controller lets Mario turn into a motionless statue, completely invincible to enemies.
Level makers love to through tons and tons of enemies at players at once. Why not give players a sensible way to combat this by turning into a statue with the Tanooki Suit? How awesome would player-made stealth Mario levels be?
The other suits basically make Mario better with different elements. The Penguin Suit gives him the ability to flop down own his belly and slide through snow levels at high speeds. This could, if Nintendo adds snow levels, bring a whole new layer to the more athletic approach to Mario platforming. The Frog Suit lets Mario swim with infinitely more precision and at higher speeds. Why not toss 9,000 Bullet Bills and Cheep Cheeps below water and watch players dance through the fray with The Frog Suit?
2. ALL OF THE KOOPA KIDS
Maybe I’m crazy. Based on their presence in games like Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, Mario Kart 8 and New Super Mario Bros. U, I sort of assumed Nintendo would give creators access to the likes of Roy, Larry, Morton, Wendy, Iggy, Lemmy and Ludwig.
These world bosses have been a part of Bowser’s arsenal ever since Super Mario Bros. 3, and they’d offer completely unique mechanics when it comes time to throw castle levels at players.
Right now, you can fight either Bowser or Bowser Jr., though how many of them and where is up to the creator. Super Mario Maker, simply given the nature of the game’s design, is really missing those true boss fights. Given the right creator and full access to the Koopalings, we might actually see enclosed boss rooms and unique boss battles.
1. THE MISSING LINKS
Finally, and this one makes the most sense to me, I wish Nintendo would add a way to link together levels into full campaigns.
Instead of just playing a single level at a time or getting a random assortment of levels through the 100 Mario Challenge, creators should be able to create levels and string them together in line of progression. Let the challenge evolve as the levels introduce new concepts and push players to test their skill.
Better still, the levels could tell a succinct story if players string together items and moments from course to course. Let us search for campaigns and share the ones we love or make.
That’s not just a Super Mario level maker; no, that’s a Super Mario game maker, and I’m all aboard that bullet train.
Joey Davidson has been on the internet writing about video games and nerd crap for something like a decade. Yell at him on Twitter @JoeyDavidson. If you want.
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