Back when Super Mario Maker was released, it actually sold me on the Wii U. I remember listening to the Idle Thumbs podcast and being so interested in this game. Hearing those dudes who were all working in the game biz talk about the potential of this Mario engine just blew my mind. And finally I saw that the Wii U was unique and could offer experiences that other consoles couldn't.
I told my wife that I thought we should get a Wii U, and she was all aboard for Mario Kart 8, so we headed to Target and... realized we had some house upgrades we should pay for first, so we ended up doing that instead.
So all these years later, while everyone is talking about the latest update to Mario Maker 2, I finally popped in my copy of the first game and my wife and I messed around with it for a while over the weekend.
It certainly seems like a game with near endless replayability. First we spent a little time messing around with making short levels to get the hang of it. I found it really cool switching between the 8-bit look and the HD look. Very neat. But really, we'd need to spend a lot more time to make anything really interesting.
We seemed to have more fun running through some of the pre-made levels in the little 10 Challenge mode. Most of these levels were pretty short, but they were always interesting and actually reminded me a fair deal of NES Remix (which is a good thing!).
When I have the time, I mostly want to check out some of the user made levels to download. A big selling point for me on this game was that people like Derek Yu and Igarashi had made content for Mario Maker. So I'll get to that. Someday. But for now, I'm just glad to have this one in my collection and know that we can come back to it when we have time.
I guess Trine 4 is NOT keeping my interest because instead I pulled Mario Maker off of my shelf. It's funny because the original reason I was really interested in MM was because people like Derek Yu had created levels for it and I wanted to play those levels, made by developers I enjoyed. I figured I could view them as mini indie games or something.
So I finally downloaded Derek Yu's level and... my goodness. This "level" is beyond difficult. And here's the juxtaposition - as interested as I am in these levels made by actual developers... I hate this kind of sadistic level design. I just don't have the patience. And possibly I don't possess the skill. Oh well.
So then I messed around with the 100 Level Challenge, which gives you 100 lives to play through 100 random user levels. It was kind of fun, but the quality is all over the place of course. And after fifteen or so levels I realized that way too many people are interested in making the most chaotic experience possible. Not my cup of tea.
But alas, I found something I found truly interesting here. There are "Event" levels, which are officially sanctioned Nintendo promotions. And they are actually super cool. I like reading the little blurbs about each one and why they exist. And I like the deep dive into the Nintendo's history. For instance one level was a tribute to Super Mario Land - a game often kind of buried by Nintendo themselves. Another level was a promotion for Splatoon. It's neat.
So I've started playing through some of these levels, and I kind of have the goal of beating them all. We'll see how that goes. The Mario Land level was a cool throwback, but ultimately very short (and easy). Same goes for the Super Mario Bros 2 level, but appreciated the charm. The Splatoon level was awesome. And I've been trying to beat the 2017 NWC level, but it gets pretty tricky toward the end - a section involving jumping over some spinning blades via bopping a flying koopa.
Ultimately, Mario Maker just cements my belief that the Wii U is a paradise for modern-retro gaming. The Mario Maker toolkit along with releases like NES Remix or Nintendo Land and things like that are these awesome experiences that feel like they're perfect for solo or multiplayer and short bursts of gaming. In a way, it recalls he arcade experience. The Wii U is an awesome and misunderstood beast.