Top-8 things about Mario Maker which annoy a Mario Purist

Super_Mario_MakerLike a lot of other people, I’ve been playing around a lot with Super Mario Maker, the level creation and sharing title on the Wii U. If you are out of the loop, Mario Maker is Nintendo’s self-published title that allows you to create levels using the styles of four Mario games: Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. Playing around with the different styles is a lot of fun and creating your own levels is a really interesting experience, especially for such a hard-core Mario fan as myself.

However, there are also things about Mario Maker that really grind my gears as a Mario fan. Not wanting to limit players’ ideas, Nintendo decided that all enemies, power-ups and level themes should be available regardless of which gameplay style you choose. Even though Mario’s controls do alternate depending on which gameplay style you choose (in SMB1 levels you can’t pick up shells), you can for instance have enemies from SMB3 in SMB1 levels and so on and so forth.

But that’s not a big deal though. You should still be able to make traditional Mario-style levels easily by simply not including things that aren’t part of the original game, right? Well, regardless, there are still some elements that make a Mario purist such as myself a little frustrated and here are 8 of the more glaring things…

SMB8. Background decorations & Shell spin in SMB1

This is a criticism I also share with many indy-games that try to “look” retro, but I just really have a problem with games that are supposed to look old school but neither play, sound nor sometimes function according to system limitations that once existed. But that aside, I really don’t like how Nintendo came up with completely original background decorations for all the SMB1 levels and even some SMB3 and SMW levels as well. I would have thought Nintendo could have kept the background elements consistent with the original games or, at the very least, allowed players to choose where to place clouds hills and bushes in the background. Still, this is a very minor annoyance which is why it’s so low.

I did not like that they recycled the shell spinning animation from SMB3 in SMB1 levels as well. C’mon, Nintendo! Was it too much to just have the normal shell sprite stay the same when you kick it?

7. Vertical scrolling in SMB1

This is another very minor annoyance but it needs to be said. The first Super Mario Bros. didn’t have vertical scrolling and it’s annoying how easy it is to accidentally add it in your Mario 1 style levels. Thankfully, it’s also easy to avoid. You can see the limits of the sky-box in edit mode and just as long as you don’t place anything above that line, the screen stays on a single plane. Still, it would be nice of Mario Maker had a feature that allowed you to automatically keep the screen on a single plane.

flagpole6. Levels only run from left to right

Of course it’s completely possible to change this by creating a pipe-section that runs in the opposite direction, but it does surprise me that Nintendo would choose to always default levels to running from left to right. You would think they would at least give you the option of running the level in the opposite direction. The thing that limits this is the placement of the finish-line (flag-pole, axe etc.) which is always oriented left to right.

And while we’re on it, how come levels always have to end in the same space? Why not have the Ghost Mansion entrance and exit just like in SMW?

5. Doing things that aren’t part of the traditional control scheme

Another very minor thing, but the game does allow you to break traditional Mario rules very flagrantly. Basically, it boils down to things like being able to exit the Kurimbo’s Shoe by pressing the shoulder button (which an NES controller obviously didn’t have). I get it that this sort of feature would probably be necessary for SMW or NSMB (neither of which had the Kurimbo’s Shoe), but why rope SMB3 into it as well? If you wanted to get rid of the Kurimbo’s Shoe in the original game, you had to get hit by an enemy intentionally. Why get rid of this element (or again, why not let the designer of the level decide how to get rid of it).

Yoshi4. Not being able to carry an item with you in SMW levels

I have to imagine that Super Mario World fans would be a little steamed by the fact that a core gameplay feature of that title was entirely ignored in Mario Maker. Those of you who haven’t played Super Mario World, in the game it’s possible to carry two power items with you. If you for instance have a fire flower and then get a magic feather, you’ll turn into Cape Mario but retain the fire flower in your item box at the top of the screen. However, if you run into an enemy or a place where you feel the fire flower would be more useful, you can drop the item from the top of the screen and switch powers on the fly.

Was there any reason not to include this ability in Mario Maker?

Lakitu3. Lakitu (cloud jacking)

Lakitu is one of my favourite Mario enemies but using him in Mario Maker is a terrible gamble I would prefer not to take. It’s true that in a few instalments of Mario (such as SMW) it’s possible to steal Lakitu’s cloud after you kill him and use it to fly around. This feature was not in SMB1 and 3 however originally, but it is part of the normal gameplay in Mario Maker.

This also makes Lakitu into an enemy I really don’t want to use as a consequence. Why? Because if you put anything in the level that allows the player to get high enough to kill Lakitu, then the player can very easily use that same thing to steal his cloud and skip most of the level as a result.

Again, being able to steal Lakitu’s cloud is another feature I wish the player could either switch on and off from the control scheme.

Drybones2. Enemies who don’t act the same way as they did in the original game

I was a bit ticked off by the fact that Hammer Bros. in SMW mode are not the same Hammer Bros. as in the original game, but considering the acted quite differently from Hammer Bros. in every other game, it sort of made sense to me that Nintendo wanted to redo them in a different style. I also think it’s cute that enemies such as Goombas move differently underwater whereas they originally didn’t feature in underwater levels at all. This at least is cute and original design.

However, what was inexcusable in my view is that Dry Bones for some inexplicable reason throw bones in Mario Maker in SMW mode, something they certainly didn’t do in the original Super Mario World. Altering sprites and creating new mechanics for enemies in situations where they didn’t originally appear in is one thing but giving enemies abilities they never originally had is something I can’t understand.

Mario Block1. No hierarchical ?-blocks

Okay, this is something I have to imagine that I’m not alone on. How come every question-mark block in Mario Maker can only give you one type of item? In the original Marios, if you were tiny Mario and hit a ?-block that had an item designation, you’d get a mushroom and become big Mario. However, if you came to that same block as big Mario you would get a fire flower or a magic leaf or whatever equivalent power you’d have in another game. Basically, it’s the game developer’s way of rewarding you for playing well. However, you can’t have this hierarchical question mark block system in Mario Maker which probably limits level designing more than any other feature I’ve listed.

I honestly would have wanted to make levels where as a reward for playing well in a certain section of the level, I could reward someone with a power-up to possibly allow them to skip parts of the level or get by them much more easily. However, the lack of the hierarchical ?-block system means that I’m forced to load up question-mark block with mushrooms and usually hide all the useful items in hidden blocks across the level.

Seriously, why is the most basic feature of a Mario game not part of Mario Maker?