Mario Maker Review (UK)

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“I stole this outfit from Ronald McDonald’s corpse!”

You probably already know what Mario Maker is about. If you don’t, the name says it all. But maybe you’re wondering if it’s as intuitive and user friendly as we’ve come to expect from Nintendo. Good news for you: it is. We were creating a brand new Super Mario level within seconds of firing the console up. That’s not a figure of speech either. Seconds!

After the title screen the game dumps you in a NES-style Mario level and sets you loose to play. Run with the D-pad, dash with B – so far so familiar. The graphics have a smooth, HD look and Mario has a kind of drop-shadow effect we don’t remember seeing before but other than that it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect.

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All the world’s a stage, Mario…

So anyway, your gaming instincts kick in and you hop the gaps, punch the blocks and make a final leap for the flagpole. Except you realise mid-air that you’re probably not going to make it. Some idiot designer made the gap too big and you’re about to plummet to an early death in the mysterious abyss at the bottom of the screen.

The game pauses and switches to editor mode. By way of tutorial, you’re tasked with filling that death-gap, then switching back to gameplay mode and clearing the level. And that’s about all the guidance you get, a complete godsend after Wario Ware DIY and its seemingly endless tutorial mode. Adam, with his hummingbird-like attention span, still breaks out in a nervous sweat just thinking about that one.

Game creation is a stylus-only affair. You’re free to doss about, drawing blocks, adding coins and enemies, and stretching or rotating level furniture like pipes and the like. If you make a mistake you can use the eraser tool to rub it out. We cracked up when we went to “erase” Mario and he started shitting himself.

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“Don’t-a kill me, wahoo!”

The Ninty magic is back in full force. Everything is done in that tongue-in-cheek silly way that Wario Ware players will find familiar. Old NES sound effects and remixed Mario music accompany every tweak and edit, proving that Nintendo are masters of audio design as well as visuals.

You can create levels in the style of the original SMB, Mario 3, Mario World and New SMB, and switch between them at any time. Gimmicks or items that were previously game-specific will cross over (with one or two exceptions), sometimes taking on new forms in order to fit in visually. It’s amazing how switching between styles can breathe new life into your levels.

The game will occasionally throw some curve balls, and enemies or items will behave in unexpected, hitherto unseen ways. For instance, you can put Goombas underwater or suspend Chain Chomps from moving platforms. If you so choose, you can add decidedly odd HD effects that clash with the pixel artwork.

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You pressed paws! Arf!

The game, outside of the editor, is pretty barebones. Features like uploading and playing pre-loaded levels are accessed from a small drop-down menu in the corner. What this means for you is that there’s no loading and jumping from screen to screen. It’s all business, all the time. Even the title screen is completely interactive and lets you immediately start making new levels.

Our one complaint is that the game gradually drip-feeds new items and level styles depending on how much you’re using it – and no, you can’t leave it running overnight to unlock everything (we tried). You might be absolutely sick of the sight of it before you unlock the clown car or the Princess Peach costume. The popular consensus is that it takes 9 days to unlock everything, and as far as we know that’s the official word from Ninty.

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Adam had to be restrained by seven men once he learned that ‘the pony bums’ weren’t an available item

But…! Stay your hands, baying hoards, before you storm the Kyoto headquarters and demand Miyamoto’s head on a pike: There’s apparently been a patch released in time for the UK launch. No one is quite sure what exactly the criteria are now, but one thing’s certain, the game breaks its own ‘one update a day’ rule. Fantastic!

To sum up, the game is presented with all the finesse you’d expect from a first-party Nintendo title. It makes any game you’ve ever played on your PS4 look like a Sega Saturn tech demo, and it’s so polished it’ll make Mr. Sheen mess his pants with envy.

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You can remake Alex Kidd in Miracle World!

The interface is so intuitive that you can do anything your heart desires without so much as thinking about what button to press or where to click, and the game will constantly charm you with its creative flair and neat little touches. You can effortlessly switch between the different game styles depending on what kind of nostalgia hit you’re looking for, and you’ll probably surprise yourself when you unleash the game designer hidden inside.

TMW Rating: – 4/5

The game loses one point for not having a “Mario 2” mode. Nintendo’s staff evidently don’t consider it a ‘true’ Mario title, along with the rest of Japan, and its unique mechanics (such as not jumping on enemies) wouldn’t fit with the rest of the game. But to the western world, that game was the real deal and we loved it more than the first. Still, there’s a lifetime’s worth of play in here.

“Gradually drip”

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Silicon Symphonies

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Music, as they say, is food for the soul. Or is that KFC? I’m a vegetarian, so I hope it’s the former. I once tried to see how many Bargain Buckets I could feed my friend Damian before he exploded. That was good for my soul, I must say.

Seems random, I know, but search for "Curse of the Colonel" for many laughs.

Seems random, I know, but search for “Curse of the Colonel” for many laughs.

I digress.

Music is a big part of games. It can make or break them, really. Just play Streets of Rage 3 if you have any doubt. So I’ve decided to list my top five (uh, maybe six or seven) “Best Game Songs”. Very creative name for the list, I know. I might rechristen it as I go.

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Console Wars

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It’s a debate that to this very day causes bloodshed. It turns brother against brother, and sons against fathers: The 16-bit Sega-Nintendo console war. That’s what it became known as, anyway. At the time, although people picked sides and advertisers took cheap shots, it was all in good fun.

I’ve been lucky enough to play and eventually own all the Sega and Nintendo consoles. In the early to mid nineties, I went from Sega to Nintendo and back again – my friends would happily swap consoles back and forth so we all got to play each others’ systems. I can say that the Super Nintendo was my favourite, but armed with experience, I feel it is my duty to put an end to hostilities once and for all. So, which console really was better? The Mega Drive or the Super Nintendo? Read my completely objective comparison to find out.

Versus

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Comp-U-Zone #6

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#6: Sequel Shenanigans

There’s an interesting phenomenon that exists entirely within the world of video games. I call it “The Super Streets of Sonic Fighter II Effect”. I’ll break it down:

  • New game is introduced. It’s novel and exciting and blows people’s minds.
  • Shortly afterwards, a sequel to this game is released.
  • It proves to be better than the original in every single way.
  • There’s no going back to the first one, and you feel a fool for ever having loved it.

The SSSFII effect is distinct from other observable phenomenon of this kind as the technology used to make video games often takes huge quantum leaps in a short space of time. This was especially true in the eighties and nineties. When you bought your computer or games console, you could be sure it was obsolete by the time you got it home and opened the box. Things just kept changing and getting better – we seem to have reached something of a plateau these days, but back then you could be sure that the sequel to your favourite game would do something you’d never seen before.

Join me as I take a look at games of yore, and try and parrot back our thoughts as we played for the first, second or last time!

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Comp-U-Zone #3

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#3: Virtual Reality

I own a great many computers and video game consoles. I’ve been a gamer all my life and I’m sure in some small way they’ve shaped who I have become. But I wonder… what can games really teach us? Can they be applied to the real world and better our lives? So, to that end, I shall go through a few of my favourite games and do as they tell me to do in the real world. IT’S NOT JUST A GAME ANYMORE.

#1 Mushrooms make you big and strong. (Super Mario)

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I’ve never liked mushrooms. The smell of them cooking is enough to make me vomit. Uncooked, they’re a bit like rubber – rubber that’s coated with a layer of grime and soil. And they have gills. To disseminate their filthy spores. They are altogether a disgusting organism that no sane person would put in his mouth. But today, I put those inhibitions aside and follow in the footsteps of Mario. Here-a we go! Wahoo!

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