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You've Always Dreamed Of Making Your Own Super Mario Game. Now You Can.

Super Mario Maker is a hard game to evaluate because, at its core, it’s more of a tool than a game. You use it to create levels for Super Mario Bros., and then upload them to the internet for other people to play. It’s more akin to reviewing a bottle opener: without bottles to open, what good is it? But with Super Mario Maker, the actual creation of the levels is at least half of the fun.

I should mention that this is generally not the case with level editors. Most other games I’ve played like this have a tool that is cumbersome and clumsy to use, and I’m usually impressed with myself if I make something even halfway playable. With Mario Maker, though, everything is intuitive and straightforward. It works just as you’d expect it to, and the game gives you tools a few at a time, so you can learn to use those before they give you more.

The levels I’ve played range from easy with a fun gimmick, to very nearly impossible. No level you’ll find is truly impossible though, since the author must clear the level before the game allows them to upload it. I don’t want you to think that this has resulted in an online universe filled with the most clever and amazing Mario levels possible-- actually, probably most of the levels out there are pretty horrible. But Nintendo added a rating system, so it’s easy to find the best levels out there, and you can also discover levels through the 100 Mario Challenge, where you get 100 lives to get through 16 randomly-selected user-created levels. You could play this for years and maybe never play the same level twice.

It’s fun to make levels that resemble those you might find in a real Nintendo game, but there’s also a certain joy in subverting that, and making cannons that shoot flying piranha plants, or floating turtles that toss 1-Up mushrooms at you.

Samuel McConnell is a games enthusiast who has been playing games in one form or another since 1991. He was born in northern Maine but quickly transplanted to Wichita.