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E3 2015 Hands-On: Super Mario Maker

Jonathan Higgins

When Mario Maker was revealed during E3 last year, I don“t think anyone could have imagined the things it was really capable of. Information about the game trickled out, then dried up — all leading up to its dramatic re-reveal during the Nintendo World Championships on June 14th. Super Mario Maker was now reality, and it was that night we got just a small taste of absolute insanity.


When it was first announced last year, I honestly never imagined that it would be such a versatile title that Nintendo would be confident enough to let it send-off their Digital Event during E3 this year, much less have a gigantic presence comparable to Star Fox Zero and Treehouse Live on the show floor. They had an entire live event devoted to it, where they spent hours explaining the game to passersby. I“m going to do the same for you all, having watched the show and both played and created in the game.


Did you get a chance to watch the Nintendo World Championships segment with Super Mario Maker? If watching the broadcast left you wanting to try out the Championship levels for yourself — you can! All of those levels, as well as the many available at the various Best Buy and E3 Demo kiosks, will be available in the full game for you to try for yourself. Playing through levels will be half the fun, so it“s great to know that there are already levels created that will be there on launch day, tried by thousands of people in Los Angeles and around the United States.


As many know, you can choose between Super Mario Bros., Super Mario 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U styles of levels. The physics of the level you“re playing are determined by its game chosen. Mario can do certain things in one game that he can“t in others. Certain levels have certain power-ups. One tid-bit you might not know: The Mystery Mushroom amiibo power-up announced in the Direct is only specific to Super Mario Bros. stages. So unfortunately you won“t get to see 16 bit or HD sprites of Kirby, Marth, Wii Fit Trainer and more.




There are a few new power-ups and features to mention besides the Mystery Mushroom, though. One thing you“ll notice as you“re playing through a level someone else created: if you die, you“ll see a red X where you fell — then, several other red X's will pop up on the screen, indicating that other players have died there. I think it“s interesting to seen where lots of people struggle in a level, so you can strengthen your resolve and be better than your peers.


Without going into too many specifics about menus and filters and stuff: every level must be completed by its creator at least once to be deemed playable. Every time someone completes your level after that, it“s given a "Completion Rate." You can guess the Nintendo World Championships levels have a painfully low completion rate of like 17%. It fractions how many attempts over how many completed runs. Handy!




There are also various modes besides 'Creation' that I haven“t really seen highlighted much outside of the show floor itself. One of these modes is the '100 Mario Challenge,' where you“re given 100 lives and 100 randomly generated Mario levels (no doubt from the pool of created levels online) and you“re tasked with beating them. That“s a fun challenge for those looking for a little more of a structured challenge as you play.


Creating levels could take five minutes, or five hours depending on your level of skill, but there are many things to consider. You can build a level with multiple layers (such as taking a pipe down to an underground portion of a level, then back up), a blocked exit that can only be broken with the power of the brand new 8-bit Mario amiibo (which smashes blocks from the side, by the way), and more. If you would have talked to me about Mario Maker last year, I would have told you it felt limited. But... Super Mario Maker gives you every bit of tools at your disposal that the Tokyo EAD team has, or otherwise. I“d even go so far as to say it goes beyond what those teams were capable of at the time.


Shaking, dragging and dropping various aspects of a level you“re creating changes them. You can turn a blooper into a Blooper-plus-family...make Bowser into Bowser Jr, and so, so much more. Want to make things giant? First place an enemy on the stage, then feed it a Super Mushroom. Every piece and part and enemy is universal across all Mario games, besides specific power-ups. Mario 1 has the Mystery Mushroom, Mario 3 has the Super Leaf, Mario World has the cape, and New Super Mario Bros. U has the Propeller Mushroom. Yoshi is in both World and U. Everything that makes sense to be there is there, and even some things that don“t really make sense are there.






It“s really the ultimate Mario toolbox. But it“s more than a toolbox, because you can play thousands of creations — either freely through a series of expert filters, or in a more structured way thanks to the 100 Mario Challenge. Each amiibo character activated through the Mystery Mushroom has surprises too, despite only being a cosmetic change.


Super Mario Maker is much more versatile and surprising than I ever really expected. It is a game with enough potential to carry Nintendo“s show at E3, and it“s more than worthy of being the focal point of his 30th anniversary. For more information, check here.


And don“t worry. That book you saw during the Digital Event comes with every copy of the game. I still haven“t seen the big Limited Edition Bundle with the amiibo anywhere, though!

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