What was it?
A 15-minute hands-on with both the creation and play elements of the game.
What did we learn?
— Wii U GamePad is well utilised, a natural fit.
— Interesting creative combinations on offer, emphasising playfulness.
— Five tiers of creation equipment, from warp pipes to enemies to coins.
— Flip between different themes and art styles in real-time.
— Being a level designer is hard.
How was it?
Fun, engaging, and a reminder that Miyamoto is a genius. Super Mario Maker is a great showcase for the Wii U’s GamePad, with players using the stylus to drag and drop into the world and building out stages from there. It’s simple, intuitive, and can be iterated easily. Players have five tiers of game elements to pick from, encompassing enemies, building blocks, platforms, and the rest of the stuff you’d expect to be able to mess around with. There’s even scope to use the famous pipes to create sub-worlds, or combine mushrooms with enemies to give yourself more of a challenge.
As expected, it’s remarkably easy to use, and seemingly flexible enough to enable players to create the masterpiece that they’ve been dreaming up all these years. There’s no denying it’s a thrill to be able to build out a Mario level, and being able to seamlessly flip between art styles from Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario World is a delight.
The main issue so far — outside of the fact that it’s sometimes difficult to know which elements of the ground you can extend so Mario’s not left with just a ledge and an abyss (which may have been a problem with the build) — is the rather annoying reality that not everyone is a genius game designer, so expect a lot of chaff among the wheat. That said, if Mario Maker is half as flexible as Nintendo says it will be then there should be a few great stages to choose from within hours of it going live, and uniquely generated ID’s for each stage should make it easy to find and share the best work. A great advert for the GamePad, if probably not for people’s design skills.
You are not Miyamoto, so stop thinking that right now.