When Nintendo first announced Super Mario Maker, one of the most exciting things about it was that it promised to remain an active, growing community. Year after year, levels would keep showing up and new, creative ideas would be brought out. So the question presents itself: six months later (give or take a week), what’s going on with Mario Maker?
Fortunately, things are looking pretty positive! Nintendo has done a decent job of responding to fan requests, adding new tools to the level creator and tweaking old ones. Early on, many bemoaned the lack of checkpoints, which were added in November. That same update also added the ability to make “status-dependent” power-ups, meaning that you could add a Fire Flower into the level but it would become a Mushroom if you weren’t already Super Mario. Late December brought in Koopa Clown Cars that shot fire, doors that only appeared when you pressed a P Switch, and Bumpers that would harmlessly repel Mario but allow other objects through.
Even this month, Nintendo brought in Skewers, locked doors, keys, and collectible coins, fulfilling many a fan’s wishes. If you felt like you ran out of ideas back in October, these new objects really do open up entirely new level ideas and they’re well worth fiddling around with.
On the level-playing front, things also improved. Nintendo has consistently been uploading fun, officially-made courses that unlock new costumes for the Mystery Mushroom. The course and maker tabs have had some new filters added, and the 100 Mario Challenge was streamlined so as to be faster to dive into. Of course, one of the best improvements is the cross-platform functionality with the official Mario Maker Bookmark site.
Super Mario Maker Bookmark allows you to search for Mario Maker courses to a more refined degree than the Wii U software itself. If you’re a level creator, you can also get a better insight into who’s playing your courses and how difficult it is for them. Any bookmark you make while logged in will add the bookmarked sites to a tab in Mario Maker, allowing you to avoid the annoying level ID tag copying.
What’s especially nice about this site is that it makes sharing levels with anyone very convenient, and even suggests levels for you to play based on your preferences. It still doesn’t provide the detailed search database many were hoping for, and it would have been nice to see some of these tools integrated with Mario Maker itself, but it’s a definite improvement over the lack of any real search early on.
There are other Mario Maker communities that have developed over the last few months, however. Dedicated and free of Nintendo oversight, they are a fantastic place to both find levels and share your greatest creations. The Mario Maker subreddit is well-curated, very active, and just about any kind of level you search for has probably been made and shared at some point.
Particularly cool are the “Level of the Week” contests, which stretch your creativity by inviting everyone to make a level around a particular theme or object. Other level-sharing websites seem to have gotten discouraged by the creation of the Bookmark site, but Mario Maker Levels and Mario Maker Hub still have an impressive backlog to sort through, and hey, who knows? They could come back someday.
In the meantime, I’ve rounded up four great lesser-known levels from the last few months that you might want to try!
“Ashley in Boo Boo Tower House”
A very tricky mix of platforming and puzzles that stays just shy of frustrating. But you’ll inevitably be saying, “Okay, okay, I got it this time; 10th try is the best one.” The ghostly theming is pretty great, too.
A puzzle-based level involving the Raccoon Leaf and a lot of shells. Getting the hang of the mechanics is tricky, but thankfully a “tutorial” section is provided. Once you get it, you’ll feel smart, and hey- who doesn’t love knocking things around with that cute little tail?
One of my favorite creators hasn’t made anything for a while, but this, their most recent creation, is a fast and fun exercise in creativity. The use of Fire Bars to make swelling waves of lava is genius, and running to escape them is adrenaline-pumping giddiness.
This feels like the great Mario ghost house that never was. The theming and design of this level is wonderful, and the puzzle mechanics clever. But the whole thing isn’t a dry brain exercise, the danger throughout keeps you moving, and the varied threats keep you on your toes. It even has a fun and clever boss battle, a true rarity in Mario Maker.
Even I’ve forayed into Mario Maker now and again! Though the flaws in the software have really shown themselves, so have the wonderful aspects, and the community that has built around it is both welcoming and creative. How could I resist? If you’ve been holding off on Mario Maker or letting it collect dust, know that things have truly become more refined over the last six months.
Have any fresh ideas for Mario Maker, or even some great levels you want to share? Let us know in the comments!
All images credit of: Nintendo