First off, this not a list of my favorite games that were released in 2015, but rather games that I played for the first time in 2015. Future installments will be released very soon, so check back often!
I’ll admit, I’m not as much of a fan of Mario now as I was when I was younger. I don’t go out of my way to buy new Mario games, be they platformers, kart racers, RPGs or whatever. While Mario was certainly a big part of my childhood, I’m just not in love with the series anymore.
Still, I was obsessed enough with Mario as a kid that I would even have dreams about games that didn’t exist. With Super Mario Maker, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make my own Mario levels, and maybe try to make some of those childhood dreams come true.
As a game-making tool, Super Mario Maker is quite impressive. It’s detailed, flexible, easy to use, and it allows creating just about any type of Mario platformer experience (missing only a few details, like sloped surfaces, or nearly anything from Super Mario Bros 2/USA). Most interesting of all is that it’s not just an editing tool, but it’s like a game in and of itself, encouraging and rewarding experimentation. Combining different elements may create unexpected results, and even just playing around with the editor might reveal secret minigames or other unexpected surprises. Leave it to Nintendo to turn game creation into a game in and of itself.
More important, perhaps, is the online component where you can upload your own levels for other people to try, as well as have literally over a million other player-created levels available to play. It’s true that not everything other people create is necessarily as good as something you would find in a true Mario game (or even good at all), but there is quite a bit of excellent content out there. Some of it is traditional Mario-type levels, some are novel “automatic” levels that play themselves, some create music, some are designed simply to kill you, and some are centered around clever gimmicks. Discovering a great level on your own is actually quite rewarding.
Even if you never touch the level editor, there is a staggering amount of content at your fingertips in Super Mario Maker. You could probably spend years with it, and never have to play the same level twice (unless you choose to, of course). It is essentially Super Mario Unlimited.
I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that it’s made me fall in love with Mario again, but it’s such an amazing, well-made game/tool that I can’t help but be impressed with it. As many have pointed out, Super Mario Maker feels like the ultimate expression of 2D Mario platform games. It’s hard to imagine what even Nintendo can do with the series now that players around the world are creating their own visions. But based on comments from Shigeru Miyamoto, it sounds like he’s already looking ahead at what’s next for Mario.
And you know what? So am I.