One Year of Super Mario Maker

Super Mario Maker

It’s hard to believe that Super Mario Maker is already a year old. Nintendo’s take on the game-creation genre is not only one of the best titles on the Wii U, but one of the best games Nintendo has ever made.

Players have uploaded millions of stages to Super Mario Maker’s servers, meaning that Super Mario Maker has essentially become an endless source of Mario goodness (and frustration). A new, 3DS version will be released before year’s end, with a few tweaks to the formula (including a greater emphasis on local sharing of stages, as opposed to worldwide sharing, which has drawn some criticisms). But it’s the original Wii U version that has really captured that Nintendo magic.

Let’s celebrate one year of creativity. One year of sharing levels. One year of agonizing, Mario-based frustration. Why not celebrate by making another Mario Maker level?

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Five Nintendo Franchise I Want to see Receive the Mario Maker Treatment

Super Mario Maker

Super Mario Maker is undoubtedly one of the best modern Nintendo games. In recent weeks I’ve found myself playing it as extensively as I did when it was first released. That’s the kind of longevity and replayability most games couldn’t hope for.

Why is it so addictive? It’s like I’ve said in the past, it turns the process of level editing into something that’s not only accessible, but fun in its own right. And playing the levels of other players provides countless surprises (some pleasant, others not so much).

While there were some limitations when the game first launched (and there still are a few that could be addressed), Super Mario Maker’s updates through the months have smoothened things out all the more, and added some great new features (the Fire Koopa Clown Car allows for more accurate shooter levels, for example).

Playing Super Mario Maker again has made me think about what other Nintendo franchises I’d like to see receive similar treatment. So here are five other such Nintendo series that I would like to see get a “Maker” of their own. They may not all be realistic options for one reason or another. But I want them anyway. Continue reading “Five Nintendo Franchise I Want to see Receive the Mario Maker Treatment”

Top 5 Games of 2015 (Game of the Year)

2015 was a tremendous year in video games. We had AAA blockbusters, indie darlings, and games from all genres and categories reach great heights in quality.

Exceptionalist that I am, some games were undoubtedly better than others. Of all of 2015’s great games, these five stood out the most to me.

These five games, for one reason or another, proved to be the cream of the crop. They may not quite be the same games you’ll see dominate other people’s lists, but they are the games that had the most impact on me.

Without further ado, my top five favorite video games of 2015. Continue reading “Top 5 Games of 2015 (Game of the Year)”

Video Game Awards 2016: Best Gameplay

There is no greater attribute to a great game than gameplay itself. After all, even the most profound video game narrative would be pointless if the game itself were a stinker. Similarly, a game entirely void of narrative can be made into a masterpiece through gameplay alone. Gameplay is the heart and soul of game design. The glue that holds a great game together. I admit, 2015’s Best Gameplay was a tough call, but in the end, there had to be one.

 

Winner: Super Mario Maker

Super Mario Maker

This award was really a coin toss between Super Mario Maker and Undertale. But while Undertale may be one of the most fun RPGs I’ve played, I have to give the edge to Super Mario Maker due to the fact that it made level editing itself fun.

Let’s be honest, as awesome as the idea of making your own video game is, most games that allow you to create your own piece of the experience tend to be pretty demanding and tedious, to the point that it can take away from the fun of making your own levels.

That’s not the case with Super Mario Maker, which implements simple drawing and drag-and-drop mechanics to make the process of creating levels as fun as playing them.

Not to mention that Mario Maker features gameplay from some of the best platformers of all time. So there’s that.

Still, I have to give Undertale a special mention for giving a sense of interactivity to turn-based battles that’s usually reserved for the Mario RPGs, and for making every encounter a unique experience.

Runner-up: Undertale

Video Game Awards 2016: Best Content

Whether it’s all crammed in the box from the get-go, added through DLC, or the product of player creation, video game developers are always trying to find ways to provide bang for your buck these days. Some times, these efforts can just feel like bloated padding. Other times, they succeed in giving a game a great sense of longevity. As far as 2015 goes, it’s no question which game will have me coming back for years to come.

 

Winner: Super Mario Maker

Super Mario Maker

Do I really need to give an explanation here? Can’t I just say “lol infinite Mario levels” and basically say it all? Alright, I guess I’ll say a little more.

Nintendo really pulled out the stops with Super Mario Maker, delivering an accessible level editing tool that still retains a strong sense of depth. You can spend less than an hour or several days making a single level, and still produce a masterpiece.

Though not every level is bound to be good (there are way too many troll levels out there), Super Mario Maker’s star system encourages players to make levels that others will want to play by rewarding them with the ability to make more levels. So there’s always reason to delve deeper into those creation tools and get your creative juices pumping.

If, for some reason, the idea of making Mario levels doesn’t entice you (in which case you’re a terrible, terrible person), you can always just play endless amounts of levels made by players from all over the world. There’s never a shortage of things to do.

In short. It’s endless Mario. What’s not to love?

Runner-up: Splatoon

Top 10 Wii U Games (So Far)

Wii U

The Wii U is a devastatingly underrated system. It’s ousted the GameCube as Nintendo’s least-selling home console of all time. Because of that, gamers all over the internet, true to their  cynical nature, see that as a reflection of the quality of the system itself (of course, they also dismissed the original Wii because it sold well, so go figure). But despite being the butt of jokes on the internet and its less-than desirable sales figures, the Wii U actually boasts a really impressive library of games.

Sure, Nintendo really needed to emphasize the console over the controller in its early marketing strategies, the Gamepad needed to be used more effectively in more games, and one can’t help but think that simply naming the console “Wii 2” could have helped boost sales by itself (because seriously, what does the “U” mean?). Despite this questionable decision-making and marketing, the Wii U has ultimately proven to be a terrific console where it counts, and that’s the games.

Yes, the Wii U had a slow first few months, but once it started picking up steam around mid-2013 it’s released some of the best games in recent years. Arguably the best part is that you can’t play them anywhere else. Though console exclusives are becoming rarer on competing hardware, they often prove to be the more definitive titles of their generations, and it’s an area in which Nintendo always excels.

Though the Wii U still has some big games on the horizon (including a new Star Fox and The Legend of Zelda), I think it’s safe to say that rumblings of Nintendo’s next console, codenamed “NX,” means that its days as a priority for Nintendo are slowing down. Sure, Nintendo has stated that they’ll still support the Wii U even after NX launches, but I think the Wii U’s underwhelming sales will make it a short-term continued support (Wii U might have a good few months and a couple of big games after NX, but I can’t imagine it would go much farther). I feel now is a good time to reflect on the many great games the Wii U has provided over the past three years, even if I may have to make a revised edition after the last waves of big games hit the console in the year ahead.

Despite Nintendo being backed into a wall in regards to the Wii U, or perhaps because of it, Nintendo has ended up creating some of the greatest lineups of games in their history for the console. It’s given us the most balanced Mario Kart, the most intricate Smash Bros. and the best version of the best 3D Zelda yet made. But which Wii U games are the best?

The following is my list of the top 10 greatest Wii U games. The ten Wii U titles that are the most fun. The 10 most definitive. The 10 games that all those people who still refuse to get a Wii U are missing out on the most. Seriously people, stop using the whole “waiting for Zelda” excuse as a crutch. Nintendo consoles are more than just a Zelda title.

One final note, I have decided not to include The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD in this countdown. Despite being one of my favorite video games, it would feel kind of cheap to list a remake here with all the original Wii U titles, even if Wind Waker HD has some of the best uses of the Gamepad.

So without further ado, the top 10 Wii U games! But first, some runners-up! Continue reading “Top 10 Wii U Games (So Far)”

More on my Mario Maker Levels (with IDs)

Super Mario Maker

 

I already wrote a quick bit on my first batch of Mario Maker levels, but I’d thought I’d write a little more about them, plus the additional stages I’ve made since then.

 

1: Great Scarier Reef (F27B-0000-001C-C0D7)

Great Scarier Reef was my first Mario Maker level, and is one of those “swim through a cage of spikes” type of levels. I created this level on the day of the game’s release, so I was unaware that this type of stage would become such a frequent sub-genre of level, otherwise I might not have made it.

Mine differs slightly from most such levels I’ve ended up playing though, since I wanted it all to take place on a single screen. It uses the original Super Mario Bros. theme, and you’re supposed to play as Mega Man (though it’s easy to lose the single costume provided). The idea behind the level was taking those segments from the old Mega Man titles where the Blue Bomber would fall through a series of spikes, and avoiding them on the way down, and reversing it. So instead you have to go upward (by swimming), and eventually working your way down to the flagpole.

It also uses the heartbeat sound effect throughout its entirety, which I like to think adds to its overall tension.

 

2: Mega Man on a Mission (2C78-0000-0031-45D4)

Another Mega Man themed level using the Super Mario Bros. theme. This one is simply based on the Mega Man segments where you had to jump on one tiny platform after another, though I threw in some cramped corners and enemies for a little variety. I admit I probably could have done this one better, but it’s still a simple but tough little platforming stage.

 

3: Showdown in the Clouds (5A4E-0000-0033-B42F)

My first stage using the Super Mario Bros. 3 theme. This level is just a gauntlet of boss fights. I tried my best to make them mandatory (since Mario Maker’s lack of forced boss fights is one of its few drawbacks), but the level ended up being frustratingly difficult to the point of not being fun. I had to go back and edit it a few times, and unfortunately some of the boss fights can only be fought halfway and then skipped. This is a concept I might go back to, but if you enjoy boss fights you may want to give it a shot.

 

4: Bowser Jr’s Wild Ride (E32C-0000-0034-1DF4)

This is a really simple “keep running” style of platformer, where you simply have to keep your momentum as you make some jumps and avoid some obstacles. It uses the Super Mario Bros. theme, and you play as Bowser Jr. It’s a stage that I like to go back to and play myself, though it is really simple.

 

5: The Tingle Zone (C190-0000-0035-E891)

Here I took the simple “keep running” style from Bowser Jrs’ Wild Ride, but made it more extravagant and a whole lot wackier. It still uses the Super Mario Bros. theme (it’s the only one with the character costumes), but this time you play as Tingle.

Though it uses a similar setup as the Bowser Jr. stage, I added in a lot more challenging platforming and obstacles, not too mention a purposefully excessive amount of the game’s sound/visual effects to add a dose of surrealism to it.

It’s simple, and maybe not a great level to a lot of people, but it’s one where I felt I did everything I wanted to do with it.

 

6: Weighted Companion P-Switch (63AE-0000-003A-1ED5)

For some reason, it wasn’t until my sixth level that I finally used the Super Mario World theme. As it’s title suggests, it’s somewhat of a spoof on the Weighted Companion Cube of the Portal series.

I actually feel this is something of a spoiler, given the nature of the level, so if you want to play it and just experience it don’t read any more of this paragraph. One of the ideas behind this level was rewarding patience and hard work over taking the easy way out. The level only provides you with one P-Switch (with the word “friend” written above it in coins), and you need to carry it through the entire level. Along the way, there are some puzzles that can either be solved or skipped over if you simply hit the P-Switch. But taking the easy way out ultimately makes the level umbeatable, since the end goal is surrounded by blocks that you can’t go through unless you hit the switch at the end, turning them into coins.

I admit I could have done a better job with some of the puzzles, but I think for the most part I got the level’s point across.

 

7: Banjo-Kazooie Inspiration (7C63-0000-0040-89A7)

Probably the easiest level I’ve made. As it’s name suggests, “Banjo-Kazooie Inspiration” is simply a tribute to Banjo-Kazooie. It once again uses the Super Mario Bros. theme, and you play as Duck Hunt, seeing as the duo is the closest thing to Banjo and Kazooie that the game provides. I recreated Spiral Mountain, Banjo’s house, the entrance to Gruntilda’s lair, and some of the early portions of Mumbo’s Mountain. You can even visit Mumbo (a Dry Bones) to transform into a “termite” (Pikmin).

There’s also a secret room hidden somewhere in the level that pays tribute to Rareware and the ending of Banjo-Kazooie. See if you can find it!

 

8: Slippy’s Maniacal Test Run (803B-0000-0051-76E1)

For this level, I went back, once again, to the “keep running” platforming style. Only this time, it’s less wacky and more difficult.

Yet again it uses the Super Mario Bros. style (I really wish at least some of the costumes were available elsewhere). In the game’s opening you play as Slippy Toad from Star Fox, with the opening representing his “workshop.” Almost immediately, you “jump into” an Arwing, which you play as for the rest of the level, which is a dangerous obstacle course.

I tried to slide it a very simple scenario, with Slippy testing out a new Arwing in a “maniacal” test course of his design. Hopefully I did a decent job at it.

 

9: Nothing Can Stop King Dedede (0561-0000-0062-5F77)

I realize now that this level probably needed a different name. Originally, the idea for the level would be something that would make the player feel invincible (it would have been a really easy but bombastic course filled with Starmen and the like). But somehow it actually ended up being one of my harder levels. Go figure.

Anyway, you play as King Dedede (again meaning it uses the Super Mario Bros. theme). The first half also falls under that “keep running” category. But to prevent my levels from becoming too repetitious, the second half requires you to stop and take time before jumping ahead.

Perhaps sometime I’ll make a different “invincible King Dedede” level, but for now, this one provides a nice challenge.

 

10: Banjo-Tooie Inspiration (E749-0000-006A-31C0)

After making my Banjo-Kazooie level, I felt the need to make a Banjo-Tooie one as well. Not just out of obligation for the two games, but also because it gave a fun opportunity to take a preexisting level, and change it into something different, much like the Banjo games themselves.

Once again it’s Super Mario Bros. and you play as Duck Hunt. I originally copied the Banjo-Kazooie level, but then spent a good while in the editor to change it into something else.

I do admit, the references are a bit vaguer and less direct here, and I feel I could have done a better job with some aspects, but hopefully those with a keen eye will spot the references.

Spiral Mountain and a now dilapidated Gruntilda’s Lair return. I tried to recreate some of the boss fights with Klungo through a giant Bowser Jr. Jamjars shows up as a Rocky Wrench. Bottles’ ghost is a Monty Mole with a Boo on his head. Humba Wumba (a Magikoopa, because nothing else fit) can change you into a baby T-Rex (Yarn Yoshi), or an adult T-Rex (Mega Yarn Yoshi). Jinjo Village shows up as a few little boxes with Koopas inside them (the houses and Jinjos…I work with what I have). The only killable Koopa represents a Minjo. You can temporarily control Mumbo (here represented by a Shy Guy). And you even stop by Jiggywiggy’s temple (he appears as a Giant Blooper on top of a Goomba, because he simply can’t be recreated in this game).

Again, I don’t think I did as good of a job here as I did with the Banjo-Kazooie stage. But if you play the Banjo-Kazooie stage first and then this one, maybe at least you can appreciate it for how they echo each other.

Also, this one contains even more secrets! It even includes secret rooms to become DK and Diddy (because Rare references), and an entire hidden segment based on the Hailfire Peaks stage from Banjo-Tooie.

 

11: Thwomp the Yard!! (E936-0000-0089-48AB)

 

This was my attempt to make an incredibly difficult, but fair, level. I don’t think it’s for the feint of heart, as it took me over 200 tries to finally beat it in order to upload it (or maybe I just suck).

It uses the Super Mario World theme, and most of its platforming and puzzles, as the title suggests, involve Thwomps (though Boos, spikes and Yoshis also show up).

The level is completely fair, with no invisible blocks, blind jumps (I use arrows) or any other troll mechanics present. It’s simply a level I made to require very accurate precision. I was originally going to make it even longer, but I felt it was difficult enough and didn’t want to simply frustrate people.

If you’re up for the challenge, go for it.

 

12: Love is a Powerful Thing (87A2-0000-0092-50CF)

This level, which uses the Super Mario Bros. 3 theme, is simply a punchline. It’s a joke level. One where players will probably die the first time, but realize it’s actually pretty easy with the second go. My intention wasn’t to troll, just to give a simple joke that hopefully some people will find funny. I won’t give the joke away here though.

 

 

Those are all of my Super Mario Maker courses so far. If you want, why not try them out? Feel free to give any feedback on them. Tell me if you liked them, or how I can improve them. And be sure to give me stars so I can keep uploading more!