Weelcome to Wii U week, where Dan and Nate wax poetic about their favorite failure of a console.
Super Mario Maker’s existence makes little sense. Why Nintendo would allow its users to endlessly customize their most successful and hallowed franchise with expansive level design boundaries is strange. This is a company that released an absurdly in-depth manual of bios for their most beloved characters (did you know that Toad has family in the Fungus Federation? Or that Yoshi’s full name is T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas? You did? You must be killing it on Tinder, brah) down to their goddamn psychological leanings! Nintendo was so notoriously secretive about the Switch that it wouldn’t even confirm the game title that appeared in its official trailer! This is a company that operates to the most specific of measures and holds its cards close. And yet, the game that most effectively captures the inventiveness of its failed, eighth generation console, is one that was made for aspiring designers and fuckwad trolls alike. It banks on a risky idea that the player can design his or her own levels (in multiple Mario skins starting with the NES title and all the way to Super Mario Bros U) and then upload them to a worldwide Mario Maker player hub. How the fuck does something like that NOT fail? But forget not failing, Mario Maker absolutely shines.
So the game revolves around two dominant player modes: designing levels and playing other people’s designed Mario Maker levels. Apart from allowing users to upload their own creations for the rest of the player hub to discover, there is a ’10 Mario Challenge’ where players have ten lives to beat eight levels created by Nintendo designers. It’s…fine. I think the point of implementing it was to better prepare players for a skin they were familiar with but enemy placement and mechanics that they were not. Since these levels often go for absurd difficulty levels and absurd…well, an absurd for the sake of being absurd approach, it may be a good idea to at least start with this challenge as it eases you into this strange new world of Mario, but if you’re like me, you’ll never go back to revisit. The ’10 Mario Challenge’ is like a tub of plain Vanilla ice cream sandwiched between Rocky Road and fuckin’ Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Fuck outta here, Vanilla. Seriously, does anyone eat plain Vanilla ice cream on its own? You do? You’re a monster. Go play some ’10 Mario Challenge’! The real fun is discovering how batshit this game can get.
Just look at this glorious goddamn nonsense!! This three second loop of the very start of some random, crazy level makes me want to unearth the rotting Wii U corpse and turn this shit on. Finding levels like this are very easy, as each upload is given a ranking, displays the amount of plays and completions, and a clear rate. There will be PLENTY of levels with a less than 5% or even 1% clear rate, and these are the ones I find myself trying to beat the most. You can also add users to your ‘favorites’ list to check out all their uploads. Seriously, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole for hours on end just trying to beat two-three levels from a user whose style I reacted to most favorably. Weeding through what you like and don’t like is paramount for navigating the player hub. I can not tell you how much I hate these fucking levels where you literally don’t press a button and the design takes you to the very end. What is that shit?
Ugh. Isn’t it cute how craaaaazy it is?! …no. It’s not. It’s stupid and I hate it and I hate that the sanctified Mario 3 (probably the best Mario game ever made) is painted on it. BUT, it is cool that this type of design is possible. There’s something to be said about a game that permits its player to work within extremely broad limitations to produce something as weird and dumb as this. Which really brings me to my ultimate point, that this game most operates as a Wii U game than any other I’ve played. And that’s mostly attributable to the use of the game pad when designing levels.
This is so fucking cool! Look at how the game was specifically designed around the mechanics of the hardware and controller you have to work with! It’s almost…Christ, it’s almost as if Nintendo actually wanted their players to have a unique experience that was exclusive to the capabilities of their console. It’s like they wanted people to know the Wii U was different! It’s as if they wanted their customers to feel valued!! Everyone get the fuck in the bunker!! Batten down the hatches!! THE CENTER CAN NOT HOLD!! NINTENDO!!!!!
Taking that little plastic pen out and operating as an amateur architect on your gamepad is one of the most clever ways of playing a game I’ve ever experienced. I love fucking with all of the subtleties of placement of platforms, enemies, power ups that I had always wondered how designers came up with. This is of course nothing at all like creating a game, because that’s a miserable experience. But this is fun and surprisingly easy! I was worried that the presentation of the design would be so overwhelming that I would have no idea what to make, but it’s not. It’s accessible and encourages creativity. One small complaint (come on, this is me after all) is that all available options (enemies, power ups, etc) are not given to you from the very start. You need to play the game over the course of several days to unlock all of them. Ugh, why?!
With each passing year, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for this old codger to feel as though his dollars are being well spent on video games. That and I’m thirty and a sizable portion of my income is STILL going toward games. And you think Nate and I make any real money from running this piece of shit blog? Where are all our investors?! Daddy needs his milk money! Nonetheless, I would buy this game again and again. Because it would be worth it every time.