If Mario Maker is a success, then what?
With the 9/11 Super Mario Maker release, it seems like a lot of people spent the weekend playing and making levels while I spent the weekend playing more Metal Gear, eating too much at an Indian buffet, and watching sports.
The embellished tool set (replete with bizarre idea books and all sorts of unique touches) doesn’t quite feel like a Mario release. I was hoping for more from the authored levels provided, but you’re fed through them seemingly at random, and the casserole of four distinct Mario aesthetics doesn’t leave it feeling cohesive.
For the impressiveness around a well-designed Mario level, I think some of that special something came with said level’s placement within the context of the whole. That first descent into 1-2 made more stark by the preceding 1-1, and so on. Of course the unique art styles (well, before the New Super Mario Bros. repetition), collectibles, items, and so on also went far to unify past games.
Mashing these aesthetics (including the HD replication) feels a bit uncanny, while playing individual levels piecemeal is a bit off. But, really, so is playing an official Mario game with such a distinct, recognized look where “BUTTS” is written out in coins. So I’m ambivalent, but people are enjoying it, and making cool things.
This is new territory, and a surprising route for domineering Nintendo, but recent moves like opening up its IP to mobile show a company that’s adapting. The mad success of all-ages, creative ventures like Minecraft and even Sony’s now-flagging LittleBigPlanet are easy answers for the shift. The PS4 has a dedicated Share button, but I saw as many people sharing pictures of their Super Mario Maker codes (with their phones, off their TV screens) as I did Metal Gear videos. Part of that is novelty. But, also, opening up a beloved series to fan-goofing and sharing could give Mario Maker a long tail.
Then what? Super Mario Maker support with DLC, or expansion packs bringing in new 2D Mario aesthetics? Or would you like Nintendo to go whole hog on Sony’s “Play. Create. Share” and start making tool sets for other popular series?
I mean, it’s not like Nintendo wants to make a 2D Metroid itself, clearly.