Sharing with the world

But once your perfect Mario level is complete, you need someone to share it with. Which raises the question: how does the online half of Super Mario Maker hold up? Really, really well. Players can share levels with the push of a button – although you need to beat the level before uploading it, to make sure it’s even possible to beat the level before others are tasked with trying it out. Players can then search through a list of courses to find one that looks interesting.

Players then have the option of downloading (which allows them to edit the level and turn it into something their own) or playing the level, after which they can choose to give it a star. These stars will make the course easier to find for other players. If you get more stars, you will also have the ability to upload more courses – you can only upload ten at the start. It is also easy to see your own info. By hitting “-“, you can see your uploaded, starred, and played courses.

By heading to “Course World”, you can search for levels in a couple of ways. You go to courses, and then filter through several options: you can choose between several difficulties, global/regional, and the time period of when the levels were made. Then you can choose between featured levels, high star rankings, and up and coming levels (that is, levels which have gotten some early attention and praise from players.) Each level also has a unique course ID, so specific levels can be shared with friends or on social media through that.

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You can also search by Makers, with many of the same filters available. This was by far my favorite way to find courses online. Once you find a maker who is making levels you like, you can play more levels by them immediately. You can even follow your favorite makers to make sure you don’t miss what they create in the future.

Or you can try out the 100 Mario Challenge. In this, you are given a hundred lives to play through 8 or 16 levels made by other players. In truth, I did not enjoy this mode much, if at all; the game tended to pick boring or frustrating levels, and you can’t stop playing a level without restarting the challenge. All-in-all though, the online sharing is excellent. Everything is done with very little wait time – loading screens are extremely fast.

Unfortunately, from what I’ve experienced, not many levels are that great. It’s a lottery as to whether you will get a good level or not, and an even bigger lottery as to whether you will get a well designed level or just a cool idea. There is a reason some people are level designers for a living; not everyone can do it, especially in these early days of Super Mario Maker (and I’m sure I am no different.) Still, as time goes on the average quality may improve, and it’s quick enough to get around that you can get out of a bad level and try a new one without much trouble.

One issue I have with the online systems is more a nitpick than anything else: there is no world sharing. That is, there is no way to share groups of levels at a time. It would have been grand to play through several levels made purposefully to go together thematically and from a gameplay and pacing perspective, and it would be interesting to see what makers could do with that added option – especially if we could make world maps as well. Instead we can only play through disparate, unconnected levels. The 100 Mario Challenge was supposed to fill this void, but it doesn’t quite succeed. This really is a small issue, but it could have drastically improved the experience of playing others’ levels.

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If only we could edit this, as well….

There are also several pre-made courses which you can unlock by playing through the 10 Mario Challenge. In this, you must complete 8 courses made by Nintendo with just ten lives. By beating these courses, they will be added to a list of sample courses on Coursebot, which you can then edit and change at will. There are about sixty total pre-made courses to play through. Most early levels aren’t very good; they are more “proof of concept” levels – remakes of classic Mario levels and idea generators you can play around with more than anything else. But, they do offer some solid enjoyment on their own, and some of the later levels are truly devious.

I suppose this is kind of a moot point, but how are the visuals? Well, it is classic Mario from various eras, all of them unchanged. So of course it is nice to look at, it’s just just nothing surprising or noteworthy (nor would one expect it to be). Menus and icons are clean and well presented as well. The music is particularly excellent. It is mainly classic Mario music – when actually playing levels, it is unchanged from the originals – but it is very dynamic. Tracks shift seamlessly into an adjusted, lighter version when you hit edit, and back again when you hit play. And again: as you place objects in the level, the noises will line up with the music, which is a small touch that I absolutely adored.

Super Mario Maker is something we’ve dreamed of our entire lives. Who hasn’t played through a Mario game and thought of ways to change it, to make something all their own within this world? Super Mario Maker embraces this dream and gives it to us neatly in a gift wrapped package. The amount of options and polish on display mixed with the simplicity of the design offers something wholly satisfying. Outside of one or two omissions, there are practically no complaints to find. Super Mario Maker is a sleek, excellent way to design levels and share them with the world. What more could you ask for?

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