Welcome to the first entry in the 2015 Holiday Gamers Gift Guide. This series will take a look at the best holiday gifts for the gamers in your family, both young and old.
Few video game franchises are as iconic as Super Mario Bros. First introduced 30 years ago by Nintendo, the adventures of Mario and Luigi have enamoured multiple generations of video game fans on every Nintendo console. Earlier this year, Nintendo finally decided to give people the chance to not only play within the iconic Mushroom Kingdom, but to actually help create it. The result is Super Mario Maker on the Nintendo Wii U, the most universal family game of 2015.
Using the Wii U gamepad, users of all ages can quickly and easily create their own custom levels in the styles of Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and more. The learning curve is perfect, providing more than enough options for an adult to enjoy while providing a simple enough interface for a 6-year-old to understand. Custom levels can be saved and shared with players all over the world. Statistics that available that show how many people have played your level and completed your level as well as what areas they may lost a Mario. Users can also leave comments and hints on the custom levels for the world to see. Players can experience custom levels directly, or via other game modes such as the 10 Mario Challenge and 100 Mario Challenge, which give gamers a specific number of lives to complete a series of custom levels from all around the world.
From the start, Super Mario Maker contains a great deal of unlockable content yet manages to make it fun to unlock it all. Additional items and enemies for custom levels are unlocked on each successive day the user plays the game, giving players incentive to keep coming back. These items can also be unlocked through immediate usage of all recent unlocks in the edit mode, rewarding players who spend time on the game. Nintendo found the perfect balance here, providing people with equal ability to unlock new items and challenges regardless of their life schedule. Everyone from an eager child to a busy working adult can quickly and easily unlock all the new items within the first several days of getting the game.
Nintendo’s infamous amiibo figures can also be used to unlock various costumes for use in the original Super Mario Bros. game modes. A mystery mushroom can be added to those stages, allowing players to transform Mario into almost any amiibo figure on the market, from Pac-Man to Link to R.O.B. the Robot. Each mystery costume acts in place of a normal super mushroom and comes complete with sound effects and musical snippets specific to the character. These costumes can also be unlocked for use by completing the 100 Mario Challenge mode, so if you aren’t into amiibo and don’t want to be, Nintendo has provided you with another method of unlocking portions of this fun game feature.
Perhaps the only real flaw in Super Mario Maker is the difficulty in sharing custom levels directly. While a special code is provided to share, the ease of sharing these codes does not fit in with modern technology, requiring users to share the codes with friends and social media manually. While this takes little away from the game, it seems as if Nintendo could have taken advantage of modern social media platforms to provide a quicker and easier way for players to share their level codes.
The most amazing discovery during this review was excitement of the children involved. Boys of ages 6 and 10 were eager to create custom levels and experiment with different gameplay ideas and challenges. In fact, these same children showed more desire to be creative on Super Mario Maker than on the iconic Minecraft, going so far as to map out level idea while away from home. This makes Super Mario Maker a unique game that is not only fun for children to play but one that sparks their creative process, showing them cause and effect concepts in a way they can quickly understand. They just aren’t playing, they are creating, providing kids with a sort of modern day art time.
Adults, especially those who wax nostalgic for the good old days of the Nintendo NES and Super NES, will have plenty to do as well. Best yet, this is a game where both adults and kids can play and create on a fairly even playing field and within a similar level of interest. Families looking for a video game to play together should look no further. Super Mario Maker bridges the gamer generation gap unlike any other video game product on the market today.
For those who have yet to purchase a Wii U, this game should be the one to change that, especially for families who want to game together. Nintendo is selling a bundle back that includes Super Mario Maker with the game console, perfect for a gift meant for the entire family.