Without a doubt, one of the finest series of 2D platformers out there is none other than the Super Mario series. Super Mario World is my personal favourite, but each entry in the series is always a great game.
Nintendo have nailed level design, with obstacles placed to get the player to learn about the world – the first Goomba from Super Mario Bros. World 1-1 was placed there in order to have the player jump and realise that ? Blocks contain items.
Anyway, my Game of the Month for September allows you to place your own Goombas, ? Blocks and a whole host of other items and enemies to create your own levels.
If you haven’t been able to work it out yet, Super Mario Maker is the game that gets the honour of being my Wii U game of choice for September.
The game presents you with a selection of items and obstacles that any Mario player will be familiar with, and you can place them down however you like. Want to place a giant Bowser right at the beginning of a course? Sure, go ahead. What about a giant tower of enemies? No problem. How about placing wings on Spinies and turning the platformer into something more like a bullet hell game? I’ve got a stage like that in the works…
There’s almost countless possibilities with what you can do. You start the game with limited resources, but unlock more as you go on – spend 15 minutes editing and you’ll receive more pieces (which was changed from unlocking things on a daily basis over the course of 9 days).
You can set your level to one of four themes – Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. U. The physics and Mario’s abilities depend upon which theme you select; Mario can’t pick up shells in Super Mario Bros., for example.
Many familiar power-ups are available as well – the ever-present Super Mushroom, Fire Flower and Starman are available, naturally, as well as the 1-Up Mushroom. Coins are accounted for too, naturally.
Each theme has a specific power-up – Mystery Mushroom for Super Mario Bros., the Super Leaf for Super Mario Bros. 3, the Cape Feather for Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. U has the Propeller Mushroom.
Mario also gains a new power-up thanks to the shells of Buzzy Beetles and Spinies. He can wear the shell of either on his head, thus making him immune from attacks from above. The Spiny shell can also be used to smash blocks that are otherwise unbreakable.
If you’re stuck for inspiration, you can play ’10 Mario Mode’, in which you tackle some sample courses – you have 10 lives to clear 8 courses in a row.
You can then edit the sample courses to create your own spin on them, or you could use some ideas you may not have thought of before. Playing through every available course on 10 Mario Mode unlocks the stages from the Nintendo World Championships for you to play and tinker around with.
Of course, there are other people who have been and will be making their own courses. You can access these through Course World, where you can search for specific courses or makers.
Alternatively, you can tackle 100 Mario Mode – just like 10 Mario Mode, but with 100 lives and 16 player-created courses on Normal and Expert difficulties. Finishing all of the course in this mode awards you Mystery Mushroom costumes. Alternatively, you can scan amiibo to unlock the costumes for those characters.
100 lives for 16 courses might seem like a lot, but there are some downright brutal ones in there. Fortunately, stages can only be uploaded if the maker was able to finish the stage so you won’t come across stages that are impossible to finish.
Sometimes, whilst you’re editing a level, you’ll move a block and unleash flies onto your screen. You can engage in a fly-swatting mini-game by touching them, much like in Mario Paint. There’s also the option to add sound effects to your courses, something which is demonstrated in the sample courses you can play through. Another option allows you edit the time limit and you can also have your level auto-scroll at one of three different speeds.
There’s a whole lot to do and see in Super Mario Maker. If you’re not feeling particularly creative, you can tackle other peoples’ levels and possibly gain some inspiration from them. Super Mario Maker is potentially the greatest Mario game, and its players can be responsible for making it that way.