Published Sep 24, 2015Modern gaming is replete with DIY level editors, many of which boast admirably elaborate toolsets, but none are quite as gratifying as Nintendo's latest success in turning the term fan service into a compliment.
Nintendo arguably created the concept with the primitive Design Mode in its 1985 classic Excitebike, one of the NES era's coolest accomplishments. But now their level-editing vision has reached its apotheosis with Super Mario Maker.
There's a reason why Nintendo has been around so long despite occasional hardware stumbles, and it's because their software is unparalleled. The nostalgia factor of retro gaming sometimes masks subpar gaming experiences, but what Shigeru Miyamoto accomplished with those original, side-scrolling Super Mario games is timeless because even if the graphics can be upgraded, the intensely creative gameplay and structure needs no update.
When Nintendo brought the 2D series back on DS and later their home consoles, the best they could hope for was to stand tall alongside their ancestors, which is rare in gaming. Nobody is begging for Rock Star to bring Grand Theft Auto back to its top-down late '90s origins, after all.
But Nintendo has not only stayed true to their perfect platforming formula — they're now letting us jump in. Mario Maker allows fans to create their own intricate worlds out of assets pulled from across the years. The 8-bit all-time champions Super Mario Bros. and even better Super Mario Bros. 3 provide all the pixelated pipes and koopa troopers an old-school purist might need, but there are more recent HD assets from the Wii U edition to unlock as you go.
The gamepad touchscreen has arguably never been used better — and this is probably the first time I've used the stylus at all — and, well, it's pure magic to play a Mario game you've designed yourself.
Of course, there are always more dedicated amateur designers than you — or me, anyway — so the share function (which only works after you've beaten your own level to avoid trolling) in the Course World also gives you a theoretically infinite number of free, downloadable Mario levels to play.
You can also try 10 Mario Challenge, which includes in-house course designs and serves as a further reminder of just how hard it is to build a Nintendo game as well as Nintendo, and why the company still matters so much to so many 30 years later. (Nintendo)