Occasionally here at Player2.net.au we will play something that deserves your attention but probably doesn’t need a full review written for it. Be it DLC for the latest AAA title, a little indie game or even an Android/iOS title. We play these titles for a blockbusting amount of time (2 – 5 hours) and report back to you the reader on what we found. So grab your popcorn and settle in for the latest episode of Blockbuster Gaming.
Blockbuster Gaming – Super Mario Maker
For the first time in ages, I am actively thinking about my Wii U. I own a plethora of Wii U games, and I think they are all, for the most part, absolutely wonderful. Of the more recent ones, Splatoon is one of the most engaging shooters I’ve played in years and Yoshis Woolly World is a pleasing amalgamation of art design and classic side-scrolling platforming.
The problem is, despite how much I love to wax lyrical about how gorgeous and well made these games are, I end up falling off the bandwagon after not all that much time for whatever reason. I’d like to think that it’s just because I’m a busy guy, but it’s not that; I just get interested by other things. I’m a bit like the cat who leaves the mouse alone because it’s spotted a butterfly.
I think that changed last weekend.
I went a bought myself a copy of Super Mario Maker, spurred on partly by the generally positive response it has received online, but mostly out of my own curiosity.
I am SO GLAD that I did.
My first level was nothing special; a few platforms, some goombas, a mushroom and one jump in particular that’s nothing more than a D-grade troll. Pretty basic stuff, but it has to be when you first start out. The tools are basically limited to what you find in world 1-1, which tethers the imagination in a way that I think is necessary in the beginning. It’s easy to get carried away early on and fill a world with a 100 goombas, but you aren’t going to learn anything other than what it looks like to put 100 goombas in to a level. Spoiler alert: it looks like a lot of goombas.
Exploring the boundaries is important, though, because you have to learn what you can get away with. I found myself wondering things like “What’s a good balance between challenging and fun?” Surprisingly, I don’t think it’s very much. Given that everything in Mario is grid/block based, the difference between removing a block and adding a block can be quite large in terms of gameplay repercussions.
By the time I rolled onto my second level, I’d found the reset button and started from scratch. From there, I started building the level in sections. I’d meticulously craft out one section, test it, make some changes, test it again. The process was surprisingly free flowing, even for a guy like me who struggles to turn the creative switch on and off whenever I like. Mario Maker’s ability to help switch on my imagination in a different way is why I just can’t stop thinking about it.
I’ve spent more time on my Wii U these last few days than I have my other consoles or my PC, which is something that hasn’t happened in a very long time. Super Mario Maker might just be thing I need right now, and I think you owe it to yourself to try this thing out – it’s beautiful in a way I wasn’t sure I could find in another Mario game.
James Swinbanks is a Games Critic currently writing for GameSpot, although you’ll still occasionally see him popping up on Player 2, because frankly, he loves the smell of the place.