The normally secretive, selective, protective and somewhat aloof Nintendo offers fans a rare glimpse behind the curtain with Super Mario Maker, a near-endlessly entertaining creation suite for classic 2-D side scrolling platformers and the best reason yet to own a Wii U. Maker starts out innocently enough, giving you access to just enough tools to build world 1-1 of the first Super Mario Bros, but over a ten day period, as more “delivery trucks” arrive, you’re gifted with everything you need to build underwater levels, castles, ghost houses and airships in the vein of Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros.
Once your creation reaches perilous plumber platforming perfection you can upload it to the Big N’s ultra-quick and reliable servers (after beating it for yourself to prove that it can be done) for the millions of other Nintendo-philes to test it out themselves. And therein lies the most genius aspect of this very smart product, there’s already a near-infinite amount of stages out there and there’ll only be more on the way as more gamers pick up their copies, unlock all the tools and hone their level creation skills.
Nintendo makes it extremely easy to browse this wealth of content, being able to sort levels by creator, community rating, and most recent uploads, and also offering randomized sets of levels organized by difficulty in a 100 Mario Challenge, giving players a set number of lives to complete anywhere from 8 to 16 levels, and earning a new secret character to insert in their levels (Amiibos can be used to unlock characters early, but aren’t entirely necessary) for their trouble. The process is seriously addictive and literally never gets old, there’s always something new to discover and a greater challenge to conquer.
It’s been a somewhat slow year for the venerable Japanese giant after last year’s unbeatable one-two punch of Mario Kart and Smash Bros, along with the news of the highly anticipated new Star Fox being pushed back until next year. I’m here to tell you none of that matters. Nintendo could sell this thing as its own dedicated $300 system and it would still be a critical and commercial juggernaut. Killer apps, triple A games, blockbusters, whatever you want to call them, this package completely transcends the very idea, and makes every other gaming experience on any system this year, from expensive tentpoles like Batman: Arkham Knight to more clever, retro-minded indie fare like The Binding of Isaac and Hotline Miami pale in comparison.
Super Mario Maker will consume your very soul and you’ll be a better person for it. Say goodbye to your life and hello to it’s a’me.