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Big N Breakdown @E3 2015: Super Mario Maker

mariomaker-title

Welcome back dear siblings, to The Book of Frog! The past few days have been tragic for Nintendo and their fans, as we are all suffering the loss of one of the gaming industry’s greatest developers and leaders, Satoru Iwata. However push forward we all must, and today I want to get back into my articles from E3. So lets put one foot in front of the other, and keep doing that until we’re going somewhere!

Last time I took a look at reveal trailer and the Treehouse Live events coverage of the up coming reboot of the Star Fox franchise: Star Fox Zero. Nintendo have received a lot of criticism over the years for repeatedly re-releasing the same games over and over. Star Fox 64 was a remake of Star Fox on the SNES, then came Star Fox 3D which was a remake of the Nintendo 64 version, and now Star Fox Zero looks to be yet another re-imagining of that same game. Admittedly there were a number of other games in between like Star Fox Adventures, Assault and Command, all of which were significantly different, and many people forget that. So what does the world think when Nintendo release a brand new side scrolling Super Mario platformer?

Same old, same old? The only thing that’ll be different about it is the power ups. Play one you’ve played them all.

Well if that’s what you think, do you reckon you could do any better?

Let’s find out shall we, in Super Mario Maker!

Brothers and sisters, welcome back to Big N Breakdown @E3!

supermariomaker

SMM-images002Developer: Nintendo
Release: September 11, 2015
Platform: Wii U

Back then though there wasn’t really much to talk about, we knew what Super Mario Maker was going to be; a level editor, and we knew that it would span multiple game styles; including Super Mario Brothers and New Super Mario Brothers U. That was pretty much it, but with a game like this, the concept is what creates the massive draw, and the rest is just trimmings. Today though there is only really one way to discuss Super Mario Maker, and that would be to look at the heart of the game, to do that I want to play for you the Nintendo Developer’s Story from the Nintendo E3 Digital Event, hosted by Shigeru Miyamoto and Takeshi Tezuka. Please take a look….

Well if that wasn’t enough to explain it for you, then uh… I guess I’m going to have to do my job.

SMM-images003Simply put Super Mario Maker is a Super Mario Bros., 2D side scrolling level designer. Using software and tools that were developed by Nintendo for use in the development of actual games, you create stages in one of four Super Mario Bros. game styles: Super Mario Bros. from the NES, Super Mario Bros. 3 from the NES, Super Mario World from the SNES, and New Super Mario Bros. from the Wii and Wii U. Switching between these four styles not only change the the graphical aesthetics, but also the mechanics by which you play and some of the items and power ups that you’ll have access too.

In the Super Mario Bros. version, you play a basic game of Mario, you start at the beginning and make it all the way through the level to the goal pole. In the Super Mario Bros. 3 style, the power bar mechanic is implemented, allowing your running speed to increase more gradually then in other games, and once your power is maxed out, if you have a Raccon Tail or Tanooki Suit, you can launch yourself into the air to fly for a short time. These levels also include the Super Mario Bros. 3 level ending, where you collect item cards. Super Mario World introduces the use of doors and multi-area dungeons, check points, and item save feature, that stores an item in a box at the top of the screen, as well as maintaining similar flying mechanics from SMB3 with the cape. Finally the New Super Mario Bros levels include access to abilities like wall jumping, wall sliding, and mid air cancels, for more technical jumps and platforming.

SMM-images001While it appears that a number of power-ups will be stage style exclusive, this may not necessarily be the case for all items and power-ups, as we have already seen so many enemies and equipment in environments where they shouldn’t be found, such as the Bowser Clown Car and Wigglers, which first appeared in Super Mario World, available to place in SMB and SMB3 levels. As for power-ups that require a specific mechanic, like the Racoon Tail for flight, or Yoshi eggs, it does appear that these features will only be available in the game styles that they actually appear in. Which while a shame, makes a lot of sense.

Something that has been in question for a while is whether or not you can actually construct worlds, or simply just single stages, well the answer was revealed at this year’s E3, you can string four levels together to make a world, and you can make multiple worlds worth of stages, though no upper limit is yet known. I suspect there is not going to be an upper limit, or at most, you will be able to make eight worlds, as is tradition, and then make multiple “games”.

Probably one of the best aspects of this game, is the online database and the ability to share your creations with the world, when players of Super Mario Maker will have access nigh unlimited levels and worlds through the community sharing, Nintendo need not ever make another 2D platforming game. Through the stage database players are able to comment and rate levels, pushing well made courses to the top of the recommended pile, but also, so new submitions aren’t entirely left behind, there is also a section called Up and Coming, which are brand new levels that haven’t necessarily even been played yet.

Amiibo-e3

SMM-images005It has been confirmed that there is Amiibo support for Super Mario Maker, and forgive my bragging but CALLED IT! Yes, almost exactly as I predicted it last year, before I even knew how Amiibo would function fully, and before we had much of an idea of how in depth Mario Maker was going to be, I predicted that Amiibo could be used to switch out who the main character is. There is another step between tapping an Amiibo and playing the character though. What happens is, when you tap an Amiibo, you insert a Mystery Mushroom or I’ve also heard it called a Costume Mushroom, and you can place it on the course as you would any other item, and when Mario collects it, he becomes that character. This is a really cool idea for thematic reasons, one of the levels they demonstrated at E3 was called “My Body is Ready” and it’s all about quick jumps and vine climbing, and you play as Wii Fit Trainer, it’s cool, it’s cute. Unfortunately there is a downside, something that I’ll be honest, has disappointed me about the Amiibo functionality in this game. The Amiibo only function with Super Mario Bros. stages. Meaning if you were thinking as I was, running through a New Super Mario Brothers U level as Link, or Samus… that’s not going to be happening.

Another downside, the Costume Mario characters do not function any differently from normal Mario. At least as far as we know from the ones we’ve seen. Shulk does not use the Monado, Samus does not have her arm canon, Rosalina doesn’t have any unique mechanics with Lumas. I don’t think anyone expected additional mechanics to be included for each character, but now that we know that these characters only appear in SMB mode, they come off as incredibly limited, compared to what they could have been. If the costumes were available in all four styles, then I would expect them to be ONLY a skin, but seeing as they are only available in one style, not having unique mechanics, makes them rather ‘meh’.

SMM-images008On the plus side for you Amiibo enthusiasts out there, a 30th Anniversary 8bit Mario Amiibo is also coming our at the same time as the game. 30th Anniversary 8bit Mario comes in two styles: if you get the special edition Super Mario Maker package, you will receive with it a Classic Colours, (shades of brown) 8bit Mario Amiibo, and separately you can also purchase, the Modern Colours 8bit Mario Amiibo. The 30th anniversary Amiibo seems to act as a Mario Amiibo in some games, while others may have specific compatibility with the 8bit Mario. Super Mario Maker is of course one of the games that recognises it as it’s own thing, and when tapped, the Amiibo will add a 30th Anniversary Mushroom to SMB stages. When collected the Anniversary Mushroom, will make the TV look like an old CRT, will make Mario huge while maintaining his small Mario design, allowing him to smash through walls, and jump higher (similar in some respect to the Mega Shroom from New Super Mario Brothers on the DS), and it also changes a lot of the graphics. Goombas now rock Mario ‘staches, and red caps, cannons fire Luigis, and many other crazy things. once again though, these only apply to SMB mode, and not the other three styles.

MyThoughts-E3

SMM-images004When I made my Top Ten from last year, Super Mario Maker only just about scraped onto that list at Number 10. That’s not to say that I thought that the game was bad by any means, as I fought really hard to get Mario Maker on to the list, I loved the concept, and I really wanted it represented. Even to the extent where I bumped Splatoon off the list to make space! I’m not the best at predicting outcomes when it comes to the popularity of games, and I had no idea that Splatoon would end up being the blast that it is! Super Mario Maker though I loved from the start, it’s one of those strokes of genius, that is so obvious, that you have to wonder, why didn’t anyone think of this years ago? To quote myself from last year:

“I … love the idea of this game, and can’t believe I’d never thought of it before now…This game was originally designed as a tool for Mario game designers, to make it easier for them to produce the levels… That was until someone came along and suggest that they sell the editor as a game. Whoever came up with that idea deserves a raise. And a boat. Made of gold.”

SMM-images007Those sentiments have not changed, I think this game is a great example of the future of the Mario franchise. Super Mario Maker is a game that bridges the gap between player and developer, by putting the actual tools that are used by Nintendo’s Mario developers in the hands of the consumer. I’ve heard it said that games like this will usher in the end of the Super Mario Brothers 2D side scrolling platformer series, while I don’t think it’s going to be quite that much of a game changer, I can completely understand the sentiment. Why buy new Mario 2D platformers, when you have access to the near limitless courses found on the web, created by other players who are striving for a greater and greater challenge? Why would Nintendo bother going through the effort of releasing a whole new 2D side scrolling game when they can just produce new stages relatively quickly for instant user consumption? Why bother with releasing a whole new game when you can create DLC packs to add new features and mechanics to Super Mario Maker?

These are all very good questions and this could be a move forward by Nintendo, as they once again step away from the 2D platforming scene in the Mario franchise. Super Mario 3D World is a fantastic, well made, and above all fun game, full of flawlessly recreated classic Mario tropes, with multiplayer compatibility, without any of the chaos and frustration that four players on a single 2D stage creates. This has shown in the games popularity and sales, and Nintendo would do well to focus on producing games like this for Mario in the future, while leaving the 2D platforming space to the player with more installments of the Mario Maker series, and lots of future DLC for expansion of the core title.

AndFinally-e3

Making Mario stages is something that I’ve wanted to do since I was a child, and this gives me, and probably hundreds of thousands of others, the opportunity to live that dream. I can’t rate this game highly enough. In fact I’ve already preordered the special edition, that comes with the guide/art book and 30th Anniversary 8bit Mario Amiibo! This is quite simply something that I’ve wanted for a very long time, and I’m looking forward to it!

Thanks everyone for once again sticking with me while I’ve been inactive, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get more articles done a little bit quicker now that things have started to settle down. Doesn’t look like I’ll be able to keep up with that “article per day” schedule that I was talking about in the Star Fox Zero article, which you can read by clicking the link.

Thank you for reading this, and if you enjoy it, please share it to social media, tell your friends, and of course comment in the comments section below. I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the game and the article, and any suggestions you may have future articles!

Until next time dear brothers and sisters, I’ve been Andy Frogman – The Priest of Gamers, and this has Big N Breakdown @E3, only on The Book of Frog!

Peace and High Scores!