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Turnip Time: Super Mario Bros. 2

Super Mario Maker has gone a long way to revitalize my passion for classic Mario.  Not that I ever really lost any love for those titles, but Mario Maker has really helped me reconnect with why I treasure those games as much as I do.  Of course, Mario Maker’s level editor has one glaring omission from the classic Mario cannon:  Super Mario Bros. 2 (Turnip Version).  SMB2 is the odd-man out of classic Mario, as it is actually a Mario reskin of the Famicom Disk System game, Doki Doki Panic.  The “real” SMB2 never made it to the NES as Nintendo of America considered it too hard for the American market.  (It’s also just a lackluster game, but more on that later.)  But even though we now look at SMB2 as an anomaly in the classic lineup, for those of us who were gaming at the time, the world of Mario was still very new and weird to us all, so the unusual setting of SMB2, the dream world of Subcon, didn’t feel all that unusual given the context of the series.  It also wasn’t all that unusual for sequels of NES games to be radically different from their predecessors, which means I don’t think I ever personally thought of it any less for being such a unique game amongst its brethren.

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It’s unfortunate that SMB2 was left out of Super Mario Maker, but actually fairly understandable.  Not being a “true” Mario game, the mechanics of SMB2 deviate significantly from the rest of the series.  In SMB1, 3, and World, Mario interacts with the world primarily by stomping on things and bumping/breaking things with his head as he jumps.  Jumping on enemies/objects to attack/break them ended up becoming a fairly standard mechanic in the platforming genre.  But SMB2 is fairly unique in that it is a game that is about picking up and throwing things.  The levels are filled with environmental objects to grab and toss, like buried vegetables, mushroom blocks, and keys, and the majority of enemies can be snatched up and used as projectile weapons against their allies.  While it doesn’t seem like a radical idea, I’ve racked my brain trying to think of platformers that use this mechanic, but while I can think of a lot of games where jumping on enemies is used as an attack (Sonic, Crash Bandicoot), the only platforming series I can think where tossing enemies and objects is a central mechanic is Donkey Kong 94 (and its sequel Mario vs. Donkey Kong) and arguably the Wario Land games.

What I really admire about SMB2 is how well it expands upon the adventure aspect of the original SMB.  While I enjoy a good challenging platformer, the thing I like most about the classic Mario games is the sense of wonder and discovery that comes with exploring the levels.  While SMB is a game about going forward from one edge of the screen to the other without turning back, the levels in SMB2 are about travelling up, down, left, right, inside, and out.  I think my favorite level is World 3-1 which begins at the base of a waterfall that the player must travel upward through.  At the top, the player must knock an enemy off a flying carpet which can then be ridden farther upward into the clouds.  The game even begins with a long straight fall down through darkness that lands in the world of Subcon.  These new degrees of freedom give the world of SMB2 a liveliness that didn’t quite exist in its predecessor.

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Beyond just level structure, there’s tons of imagination in SMB2.  The world of Subcon is filled with strange and unusual creatures and features.  A number of recurring Nintendo characters made their first appearance in this game including shy guys, sniffits, bob-ombs, and pokeys.  Easily the most memorable baddie in the game is Phanto, the relentless flying mask that pursues the player as they carry the cursed keys that are required to open the many locked doors that stand in their way.  Being chased by that nightmare abomination is probably one of the most tense memories that a lot of gamers have from their early years.  And the landscapes and artifacts of the dream realm are almost completely peculiar and unique to this world’s creative vision.  Mario and crew journey across the backs of whales in an icy ocean, jump into TARDIS-like vases that are bigger on the inside than they are on the outside,  and of course buried in the ground there are the iconic red potions that create doors to the shadowy subspace where power-ups are hidden.

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On my recent playthrough of SMB2, I was actually pretty amazed at how unique and memorable each level was.  It’s been many years since I’ve played the game, but most of the levels were immediately recognizable to me.  I’m afraid I can’t say the same thing about original SMB.  Outside of 1-1 and 1-2 (which I’ve played thousands of times), the stages of the original SMB just sort of blur together to me.  I remember specific types of stages, like the underwater worlds, flying fish bridges, tree tops, etc., but I don’t really remember the fine details of specific levels that well.  SMB2 has much more individually distinct stages to explore.  In addition to the aforementioned waterfall level, I’m a big fan of the level that is styled after Pitfall with caves that are visible beneath the character’s feet, and the ice level where the character must cross an ocean on the backs of a pod of water-spouting whales.  

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It’s also cool that the game allows the player to choose between Mario, Luigi, Toad, or the Princess at the beginning of each level.  No other classic Mario game really offers that.  At best, you can choose to play as Luigi (and usually only if you’re Player 2).  The four characters also control differently, and many consider Mario to be the least interesting character.  I think most people are like me and consider the Princess their favorite as she can float horizontally for a short moment during her jump.  To me, SMB2 is really a Princess Toadstool game.  I know the people who market games often have cynical attitudes toward the willingness of male youths to play as female characters, but all my friends at the time preferred the Princess.  I also know that many really like Luigi since he has the highest jump, although his movement is slippery and a bit harder to control.  I’ve never bothered much with Mario or Toad honestly.  Mario is supposed to be the well-rounded character, but he ends up being kind of boring.  Toad is slow and can…..ummm…. dig up plants really quickly???  

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Of course, there is that other SMB2 out there, the Japanese version that is known as The Lost Levels over here.  The Lost Levels was first released as a part of Super Mario All-Stars in the US, but I’ve only ever played the English localized 8-bit version available on the North American 3DS eshop.  After playing that version, I’m incredibly glad that game never made it to the NES.  I’ve found it to be such a joyless game, and I think it probably would have dampened my excitement for Mario back then.  

The Lost Levels focuses less on expanding the adventure aspect of Mario and more on greatly increasing its challenge.  The game was admittedly advertised on the box as being for advanced players, and while the original Super Mario Bros. could be quite difficult in later levels, The Lost Levels is much harder.  And not a fun kind of hard like Super Meat Boy or Mega Man 9, The Lost Levels has a difficulty that is more focused on just trying to screw the player.  Remember how amazing it was to discover the warp zone at the end of World 1-2????  Well, The Lost Levels has parts where the player can get trapped in reverse warp zones that send them back to worlds they’ve already beat. The Lost Levels is far from an insurmountable challenge, but in obsessively trying to beat down the player, it strips out all the wonder and thrills that were found in the original.  That’s not to say that fiendishly difficult levels don’t have a place in Mario games, but I think the best way they’ve been incorporated is as optional secret content like they were in Super Mario World.  An entire game that is nothing but those kinds of levels just loses its charm very quickly.

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Ultimately, despite it’s rationalizable exclusion from Super Mario Maker, I don’t think SMB2 is a particularly underappreciated game on Nintendo’s behalf.  It was the first game they remade in the Super Mario Advance series, as SMB1 and Lost Levels had already been remade in Super Mario Deluxe.  And certain aspects from the game have made their way into the “true” Mario games, such as pokeys and bob-ombs, although the most iconic enemy, the shy guy, has only been featured in spin-offs like Yoshi’s Island.  But I do hold out some hope that we might get some SMB2 love in Mario Maker.  After Nintendo’s excellent continuing support of games like Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon, I would like to think that it might not be impossible that an SMB2 tileset could arrive in the form of DLC.  I personally wouldn’t even really have any objections to paying for a piece of content like that.

 

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My Top 5 Game Picks from 2015

As the old year begins to fade into distant memory, we all take a pause to reflect on the passage of time and what we managed to experience and accomplish on the Earth’s latest spin around the sun.  In gaming, that usually means games of the year lists!  I have to say, there were a lot of great games released in 2015, and I’ve come to the regrettable realization that I just don’t have the time to play every game that I would like to pick up.  There were several big games that I didn’t manage to find the time for in 2015.  Namely, I’m thinking about Bloodborne, The Witcher 3, Soma, and Undertale.  I would like to think I’ll eventually get around to playing those games, but as I look forward, I see that 2016 also looks to have a lot of great games on the horizon, especially in the opening months of the year!  So I fear I might not ever really find the time to get back to those I’ve missed.

The existential regrets of a gamer aside, I’ve compiled a brief list of five 2015 releases that I really thought were highlights of the year.  They are listed in no particular order.

Super Mario Maker

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For a guy who grew up on classic Mario, Super Mario Maker was like the game I’ve been waiting all my life for, but I somehow didn’t realize how much I wanted it until it was here.  Having a vast and ever growing library of new levels in the mold of classic games like Super Mario Bros. 3 was a huge blast of nostalgia.  But what I found most impressive about the game was not the access to a huge collection of user-generated content, but how engrossed I became with the level editor, itself.  I had initially been somewhat worried that I wouldn’t have much inspiration to create levels, but everytime I sat down to create something, I found my imagination was immediately ignited.  It’s kind of amazing how quickly I found myself coming up with new ideas and twists for levels, and the sheer fun I found in creation ended up being the real draw to the game for me.  And the creative spark is incredibly well-facilitated as the level editor is amazingly easy and accessible to use, while still complex enough to grant the designer a fair degree of freedom to invent and experiment with entirely new ideas.

I also want to add that I’m really happy with the diligent continuing support Nintendo has given to the game.  A lot of my initial complaints have been solved in the many updates they’ve released which have made improvements like adding checkpoints and creating a better system to browse and discover new levels.

Until Dawn

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Here was another unexpectedly great horror game that released this year.  Until Dawn is not an action game like Resident Evil, but rather a story-focused adventure game, similar to Life is Strange or The Walking Dead.  Featuring a group of teenagers vacationing alone in a cabin in the woods, Until Dawn adapts the classic slasher film setup to an interactive story experience.  The story features a heavy emphasis on character relationships, and as the group’s situation becomes increasingly dire, we see the friendship of these characters put to a real test.

As the player guides the teens through a single fated night, the consequences of the player’s choices determines who lives and who dies.  It’s possible to do a “perfect” run where all the teens live, or they can all end up dying if the wrong decisions are made.  Ultimately, the number of survivors that make it through the night is less important than the player’s curiosity with how the story unfolds.  And for a video game storyline, I found it surprisingly refreshing.  Amongst all the terror, these characters have their moments of triumph, failure, redemption, tragedy, and affection, which I found made for a rich and standout experience amongst horror games.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

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Before Metal Gear Solid V, I was a lapsed MGS fan.  I know it’s beloved by a lot of gamers out there, but MGS4 really rubbed me the wrong way and turned me off from the series.  MGS4 was a big step away from the series’ roots, moving from the top-down perspective of the previous games to a behind the shoulder viewpoint, and I don’t think they quite figured out how to make the stealth gameplay work under the new camera conditions.  And on the action side of things, the gunplay was really awkward and lacked grace and fluidity.  But where MGS4 failed in its attempts to evolve the stealth action that Snake’s adventures are known for, I think The Phantom Pain really succeeded.

With its sprawling open world, The Phantom Pain is a huge deviation from its predecessors.  What I admire most about MGSV is the freedom it allows the player in pursuing mission objectives.  I played this game after finishing the PC version of GTAV, and what struck me about GTAV was how restrictive it was toward the player.  At every point in GTA’s missions, the game has very exact instructions that it expects the player to follow.  MGSV, on the other hand, merely drops the player in a huge playground with a mission objective and gives them the freedom and toolbox to devise their own solutions to achieving that goal.  

In some ways, The Phantom Pain doesn’t feel like an MGS game, which is why I’m very hesitant to call it the best of the series.  The gameplay is amazing and probably the best amongst its kin, but the story and characters are not as elaborate and interesting.  Many people feel that the story was probably unfinished due to the troubled circumstances of development.  Regardless, this game was just amazing to me and is a perfect illustration of the obsessive attention to detail that Hideo Kojima and his team are known for.

Resident Evil Revelations 2

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The original Resident Evil Revelaitons was a 3DS game that I thought was alright considering it was a handheld action game.  I don’t think it was a bad game, just not a particularly special one.  With that in mind, Revelations 2 was an incredible surprise to me.  While it still leans toward action, I felt it was much darker as a horror game than the previous two mainline Resident Evil games, which focus more on bombast than tension and dread.  

Revelations 2 stars series veterans Claire Redfield and Barry Burton operating in parallel campaigns.  The player trades off control between the two characters at predetermined points in each of the game’s episodes.  Once again, the Resident Evil series partners the main characters with AI companions.  This time newcomers to the series Moira Burton, Barry’s daughter, and Natalia, a mysterious psychic orphan, travel with Claire and Barry respectively.  Unlike in previous games, the player can switch control between the main character and the partner at will.  While the inclusion of companions in Resident Evil has been highly derided by fans, I think Revelations 2 is the first game in the series to use them well from a mechanics standpoint.  This is because neither Moira nor Natalia use guns, but rather have special abilities that are helpful to Claire and Barry in combat.  For instance, the psychic Natalia can “see” things that Barry can’t, like invisible enemies and hidden weak points.

And finally, the secret ending is just badass.  They really did a good job making all the characters in this game compelling and enjoyable, and the ending is really a “hell yeah” culmination for all their struggles.

Splatoon

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There’s no question that Nintendo is great at making multiplayer games.  I don’t know that there are any games that I’ve enjoyed as much with friends and family as Mario Kart and Smash Bros.  But nonetheless, I don’t think many foresaw just how successful their first foray into the world of online action games would be.  When Splatoon was first revealed, it piqued my interest (and made my highlights of E3 2014), but I really felt I was being cautiously optimistic.  Afterall, Nintendo had been great at making multiplayer games to play with real live human beings, but online competition had not yet been a serious focus of theirs.

But the success of Splatoon is not merely in Nintendo finally proving that it could compete in the arena of online gaming (when it wants to), but in the fact that it injects actual imagination and creativity into the rather stale world of online shooters. For better or for worse, Nintendo tends to go its own way and rarely walks in the footsteps of others, and Splatoon is a game brimming with ideas that are mostly entirely its own.  It was a huge breath of fresh air, and I really know of no other online experience which could be considered similar.   

My only complaint with the game is the single player campaign.  I’m not saying I think it’s bad, as I did enjoy it enough to see it to completion.  (The final boss is a really fun fight!)  Rather, I just expected something a little more memorable coming from Nintendo, but I guess the real focus of the team had been on crafting such a superb multiplayer experience.

 

Fall Gaming: MGS V, Lara Croft GO, Super Mario Maker, and more

As of last Wednesday, fall is officially upon us (or at least for those of us in the northern hemisphere).  I can already feel the summer heat beginning to chill, and my mood has turned with it.  Consequently, this will be a somewhat lazy post with lots of rambling and little focused commentary.  When I was much younger, I actually really enjoyed the fall.  Where I grew up, the cool of fall was often a welcome relief from the hot stickiness of summer.  But somewhere along the way I’ve come to find the fall chill to be rather dispiriting, and the older I get, the more I feel like I’ve become a creature of spring and summer.  But the good news is, video games tend to be great in the fall, so at least I have a lot of games to look forward to, and that brightens up my mood.

Metal Gear Solid V

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Right now, I’m deep into Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.  I actually picked this up on launch day, but only began playing this last week.  Someone told me it was best to play Ground Zeroes first, and fortunately, I had that from PS+ on the PS4.  Man, I knew that game was short, but I don’t think I fully realized that it was that short.  If I did, I would probably have beat it a long time ago.  Unfortunately, I’m playing Phantom Pain through Steam, so I’m not sure if I can pull through my Ground Zeroes save file through Konami’s servers and get the goodies that come with that.

I’m about 10 hours into Phantom Pain and really digging it so far.  I’ll be honest, I lost interest in the MGS series after Guns of the Patriots, a game which I really hated.  That game just wasn’t fun to me.  They were trying to evolve/modernize the gameplay of MGS beyond the original top-down games, but I just don’t think what they came up with was very fun to play.  It also doesn’t help that they took the convoluted ridiculousness of Sons of Liberty and cranked it up by an order of magnitude.  With Peacewalker, they took that new formula and tweaked it a lot (and added Monster Hunter style boss fights), and while I didn’t hate that game, I didn’t like it enough to finish it.  I think finally with Phantom Pain they’ve created a truly modernized MGS game that is really fun to play.  As an open world stealth/action game, the result is something that feels very different from the first 3 MGS games, but it’s so well-designed that I don’t mind that much.

MGSV has gone a long way to restore a lot of my excitement for gaming.  I was really looking forward to Arkham Knight this summer, and the awfulness of the PC version left me really disappointed.  I entertained the idea of buying the PS4 version, but I was just so annoyed about the whole ordeal that I swore off the game completely.  Part of the reason I wasn’t really all that excited for MGSV was because I expected it to launch in a severely broken state, especially around all the calamity that has been going on with the team behind the game.  But this seems to have actually been a very smooth release.  Even more so exciting is how well the PC version has come out.  I don’t think I expected so much from a team that appears so inexperienced with this platform, but the PC version runs very well.  Long story short, this game has gone a long way to restoring some of the faith I’ve lost in major releases.

Lara Croft GO

Lara Croft GO

I just finished Lara Croft GO.  I had heard good things about the game, and the real thing did not disappoint.  I’ve always thought turn-based and grid-based games were a good match for mobile and have been a bit disappointed that more console game translations to those devices don’t use such a structure.  These types of games work so much better with a touch screen interface than games that try to use a virtual controller.  

Lara Croft GO kind of reminds of a GBA game in a way.  Back then handheld gaming was a lot more technologically cruder than console gaming, with handhelds still focusing on 2D gaming and console focusing on 3D gaming.  Consequently, designers had to get really creative with the ways in which they translated their big 3D console games to a 2D handheld game.  Lara Croft GO is similar as it plays nothing like a standard Tomb Raider adventure game, but rather it takes the elements of those bigger games and converts them into a form that is more friendly to the mobile platform.

In Lara Croft GO, essentially all the elements of Tomb Raider, combat, puzzle solving, and platforming, are converted into a turn-based puzzle game with grid-based movement.  Lara takes a turn to move from node to node in a level, and after she moves, the enemies and traps in the level take their actions.  So the turns work sort of like how an old-school roguelike RPG works, the player takes their turn and then the dungeon takes its turn.  Maneuvering Lara safely to the end of a level takes some puzzle-solving.  For instance, if you walk onto a space adjacent to an enemy, they will attack Lara.  But if she’s on an adjacent space that the enemy isn’t facing, she’ll be okay, and in her next turn she can move onto the enemy space and kill it.  Some enemies will chase Lara if she crosses their line of sight, and this is sometimes needed to lure them away from blocking the way forward or to get them to step on a switch that needs to be activated.

I had a lot of fun with Lara Croft GO, and I highly recommend it.  The game is $4.99, but there are no microtransactions needed to win the game.  The only in-app purchases  are additional costumes, but you can also unlock more costumes by picking up collectibles strewn about the game.  In addition, you can pay for “solutions” to each level if you’re stuck, but I never found this necessary.  The later puzzles are far from easy, but it never got frustratingly difficult.  I would say it’s actually one of those rare games that is just “perfect” in difficulty.  And besides, if you do get stuck, I’m sure you can just YouTube the solution rather than paying for it.

Super Mario Maker

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I continue to play Mario Maker from time to time.  I’m not quite as enamored with it as I was that first week, but it’s become a pick-up-and-play game for me.  The perfect game for when I only have a small amount of time to play.  I haven’t posted any new levels since my last post, but I’m working on two that I hope to finish very soon.  I feel like these might have a little better difficulty tuning than my previous designs, but, of course, I have no way to judge that beyond my own feelings.

One other thing, I’ve started watch this game on Twitch a little.  I’m not usually a big Twitch watcher, but I find that SMM streams often show off little things about designing levels that I didn’t know before.  

Games I look forward to playing 

With the year winding down, we’re starting to get into the big release season for games.  Or at least this used to be the big release season for games.  There’s been a growing trend for a while now of Jan.-Mar. being the big gaming season, since so many games targeted at holiday release get delayed to these months.  

MGS V is mainly on my mind right now, but I hope to play the recently released Until Dawn soon as well.  Going forward I believe the two biggest games for me for the rest of the year are going to be Fallout 4 in November and Just Cause 3 in December.  These three open world games (MGSV, F4, JC3) are probably going to keep me occupied for a long while.  Most big releases right now seem to be really long open world games in the 30-50 hour range.  It’s strange how not that many years ago, during the middle of the 360/PS3 generation, there was some controversy that arose regarding how short games were getting.  Most of the big-name action games were averaging single player campaigns in the 5-8 hour range.  Now it seems like games are starting to get a lot bigger again, like what many of them were in the PS1 and PS2 generation.  Maybe it’s just a sign of how competitive the market for games has become.  If you’re a company wanting to sell games in $60 boxes, then you really need to pack a lot of content in there to stand out and capture gamers’ attention from your competitors.  

I may also pick up Triforce Heroes in October.  I really liked A Link Between Worlds, but I’m not so sure yet about this co-op focused game.  But lately I’ve realized that I’m like a moth to a flame when it comes to Nintendo games, so I have a feeling I’ll probably cave in if it gets decent word of mouth.  There’s also Fatal Frame V on the Wii U.  I first got into the Fatal Frame series last year, and I’m a little curious about this new entry.  But the game has been out for a while in Japan, and I’ve heard no word of mouth about it either way, positive or negative, so I honestly have no idea if it’s going to be worthwhile or not.  It also doesn’t help that it’s a full priced release that’s going to be digital-only, and I’m fairly hesitant to spending that much money on downloadable games from Nintendo’s outmoded online storefront. 

Well that’s all I have to say for now.  Other than the new releases I’ve mentioned above, I plan to play a few older horror games for the Halloween season, but hopefully I’ll be able to write more about that in the future.  

Guys, Guys. Super Mario Maker. Seriously.

This happens to me too often with Nintendo games:  I know I’m going to like their new games, but I completely underestimate how much I get hooked by them.  Captain Toad, Splatoon, and now the latest example, Super Mario Maker.  I’ve been completely surprised by how much fun I’ve had making levels.  I had reservations initially because, with a series that’s gone on this long, what could users really create for Mario that Nintendo hasn’t done already.  I was wrong, of course.  Designing levels has been one of those things where it causes the time to melt away without me noticing.  While in the level creator, I find there’s just this domino effect in my imagination where new ideas to try are constantly just coming together.  While creating, I’ve yet to reach a point where I’m stumped as to what to add next.  I seem to always find an idea I want to experiment with next.

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Consequently, as coming up with new plans for a level is rather natural, the challenge of designing a level really lies in executing those ideas in a smooth and fun way.  One of the things that really helps out while building levels is that you can seamlessly transition from editing the level to playing the level.  The smooth, load time-free transition from editing to play testing makes fine tuning a level or experimenting with an idea very accommodating and painless.  I’m not going to pretend like my levels are super well-designed masterpieces, but this aspect of the level designer means that they’re much tightly-crafted and less messy than they could have been.

For those who don’t know, there are four tile sets available in the editor: Super Mario Bros. 1 and 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U.  Furthermore, you can make levels in specific environments, such as underwater, ghost houses, airships, Bowser castles, etc.  Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA version) is left out probably because it is mechanically a major divergence from the other games (as it is based around picking up and throwing enemies rather than stomping them).  But there are doors you can place in a level that strongly resemble the doors to subspace in SMB2, so it is represented in a very token way.  

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I think, of all the tile sets, I find the best looking to be the SMB3 levels.  It may just be my own bias toward this game as my favorite of classic SMB, but the SMB3 pixel art just looks very crisp and sharp in HD.  The SMW visuals are a little busy, I think (although they look very good when playing on the gamepad).  Meanwhile, SMB1 looks a little bit off in HD.  I’m not sure why, but I think it might be because all of the sprites cast shadows on the background.  On the other hand, wall jumping is probably my favorite thing to do in a platforming game.  In Mario Maker, wall jumping is only possible in NSMBU levels (as that mechanic doesn’t exist in older games), so I tend to find myself wanting to design levels in that tile set more than the others.

With all that said, I do have one major complaint with the game.  As far as I can tell, there’s no way to set mid-level checkpoints.  This makes long, elaborate, and challenging levels a little more tedious than they should be, since any time you die you have to repeat the early parts of the level.  As I prefer to make levels that are on the tricky side, I find myself preferring to make them on the short side so they don’t wear too much on the player’s patience.  

Here are my levels so far:

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Crawling Caverns:  D553-0000-002A-057B

This level seems to have been my most popular so far.  It’s an underground level in NSMBU style, and wall jumping is required to succeed.  In addition, I experimented around with the idea of needing to use giant enemies, such as giant turtle (shells), to clear the way forward.


SMM3

Land Meets Sea:  27CE-0000-0030-E71F

The theme for this level is a normal ground level beset by a lot of traditionally underwater enemies, include flying bloopers (giant and normal size), cheep cheeps shot from cannons, and spiny balls.  As a tip, the player should try to move briskly through this level, or otherwise the screen can pile up with enemies from the cannons at certain points and make it a lot harder than it was meant to be.


SMM7

Hydroelectric:  FE51-0000-0044-A244

This underwater level started off as an attempt to create a tribute to the hydroelectric dam level from the TMNT NES game.  I don’t know if you would realize that from the final level design, but it definitely has a “don’t touch the walls” aspect to it.  I originally wanted to make this in the SMB3 style and use the electric jellyfish in that tile set as the walls, but the result was something that was a bit of a visual overload.  Instead, I used the SMB tile set and spiky balls as the walls instead.


SMM1

Hope you like wall jumping!:  C9AB-0000-004D-5CF4

A NSMBU castle level.  This one was meant to be heavily focused on wall jumping, because as I’ve mentioned, I love wall jumping.  It’s not a masterpiece or anything, but it’s actually probably my favorite I’ve created so far, and it taught me a lot about what Mario is capable of doing under NSMBU rules.  


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Under, Through, Around, and Over:  1C4B-0000-0027-43EA

This is the first level I designed.  I decided it was fitting to begin with the original SMB.  Ultimately, I think I was trying to be a little too clever with this one, and the result is something that is a little on the messy side.              


The year 2015 marks SMB’s 30th Anniversary, and initially I was a bit concerned that Nintendo wasn’t doing anything special for it.  There was a lot of concern about Super Mario Maker when it was first announced, because Nintendo has historically not been great at doing online systems, and a game like this needs a good online system for users to trade levels.  Last year there was even some confusion coming from Nintendo as to whether gamers would even be able to share levels online or not!  Thus, the end result of Mario Maker has actually been something much more incredible than many other people or myself thought it would be and has been a great way to commemorate Mario’s 30th.

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