Mario Maker: Remixing The Play, Create, Share Genre

With LittleBigPlanet, Media Molecule defined a new genre. Although we had seen map and level editors in games before – particularly in the realm of PC gaming, where mods have seemingly always been prevalent – we had never seen this been so readily applied to gaming conventions, and so seamlessly deployed under their Play, Create, Share tagline.

The PS3 exclusive allowed people to create anything beyond their wildest dreams, at first in the form of two dimensional platforming levels and then even more complex things with the sequel, such as top-down shooters and even 3D gaming experiences, achieved though the wealth of tools available and the ingenuity of certain creators.

But among these levels, there were many more homages to other games, with level creators taking inspiration from one of the most popular platformers of all time, Super Mario Bros. Search for “Mario” and you’ll find over 50,000 results, many of which are an exact recreation of Mario’s debut level, World 1-1.

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Nintendo are now looking to replicate this creation aspect themselves, though instead of expecting players to create Super Mario Bros. 1-1, they’re hoping players will remix, create and share their own Mario levels with creation tools of their own – creation tools that could easily make any future New Super Mario Bros. titles obsolete. It’s a risky move, though it looks like it might just pay off.

Mario Maker is already an extremely streamlined experience. You can switch from editing a level to playing in seconds, you can edit and change aspects easily with the use of the touchscreen on the GamePad, and you’re able to play in multiple Mario styles, from classic Super Mario Bros. to the New 2.5D look, switching between them at the tap of a button – there’s no need to create.

It’s a testament to how Mario’s 2D platforming was already perfected from the beginning; levels in New Super Mario Bros. play almost identically to the Mario games of yore, yet it still feels like a complete evolution when you change between them. Even the old Mario skin looks new, with an almost pop-up effect making for a brilliant style and easy editing of the level.

The developers have made it clear that they aren’t expecting people to follow tradition in creating their levels, with the three they had created showing some wacky yet brilliant design. Goombas with Piranha Plants atop them; gigantic chains of Piranha plants seemingly spawning out of the mouth of the one below, as though Mario were trapped in an Alien game; areas littered with moving platforms and an obscene amount of Hammer Bros.

MarioMaker-IL1

There are some excellent touches with in the editor itself, the main one taking place when you switch to play mode to test your game and then back to edit mode – you’ll see Mario’s exact trajectory as a line of ghosts follow his exact path, allowing you to judge distances and heights of things very easily.

It’s easy, but it’s also empowering. You’re developing a Mario game here, and you’re doing it without too much hassle – there’s no code, and practically everything is just simple drag and drop gestures. It’s superb design, and something which the developers may even be able to adapt and use themselves for future endeavours.

So, the Play aspect is naturally brilliant and the Create even better, but as of right now, we’ll have to wait to see if Nintendo can match Sony when it comes to Share. After Mario Kart 8’s online support, with sharing of highlight reels and time trial competitions or online tournaments, it seems likely that they’ll nail this aspect too, and they’ll really need to for Mario Maker to flourish.

Just know that people probably won’t be recreating LittleBigPlanet’s First Steps level – and I’m not quite sure that they could, if what I’ve seen is as far as the editor goes – but do expect plenty of new and exciting Mario levels, which should really push the boundaries, twisting the formula and perhaps bettering any of Nintendo’s esteemed level design.

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4 Comments

  1. This actually looks pretty great. LBP is a bit tedious for my tastes when it comes to designing stages (love playing other people’s creations though), so I’m liking the look of how simple this is to use by comparison. Anyone know if its a retail game or a download? Not sure I’d cough up £40 for it but I’d check it out if it was on the eShop

  2. This is a really great idea. If they pull it off, it’ll be fantastic fun. Mario is truly the king of platformers after all.

  3. Looks pretty good and really easy to use.
    Will be good to see what comes from it once the players get hold of it.

  4. Looks like a winner to me. Some of the levels created could be better than the brilliant originals. The talent and imagination is out there among the gamer population, some of those public LBP level creations were superb.

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