What Frustrates Us About Super Mario Maker

The original Super Mario Bros. only has 32 levels, and we've memorized every pixel of them. While subsequent Mario games all added a limited number of levels to the best platformer series of all time, there's always been something missing. Enter Super Mario Maker, the creative game that promised to be the killer app for the floundering Wii U. While making levels for Mario to traverse is certainly fun, Mario Maker still failed to live up to its promise in a few important ways that are hard not to find frustrating.

Why Wii U?

There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of reason that Mario Maker is restricted to the Wii U console, but that's how Nintendo decided to play this one. All the game really needs is some basic touchscreen capabilities in order to easily organize sprites, and all of that's already possible on the lowly handheld DS. When creating a level in Mario Maker, you never even have to look up from the Wii U control pad to realize that the same junk is happening on the fancy big screen TV. It's truly something that could have been smaller, with just as much awesome packed in.

Amateur hour

When you're done crafting your carefully thought-out, playtested, beautiful level, you can upload it to Nintendo's central Mario Maker level jambalaya...provided you can beat it first. Unfortunately, not everyone really puts in as much effort as you, and the selection of online levels is mediocre at best. Many makers just want to show off their complicated Rube Goldberg levels where everything happens by itself, and others just jam as many assets into one space as humanly possible. Forget about smart, creative, interactive level design, because you'll only find one in a hundred.

This level brought to you by...

One weird thing about Mario Maker is that Nintendo and other companies use the game to market their own products. Whether it's a boring level full of Triforce-like shapes to promote some Zelda re-release, or you're a weird little racecar sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, seeing incongruous advertising delivered right to your console, inside a creative game, just feels a little greasy. Your reward? A new skin for Mario, which does nothing at all.

Working in the coal mine

So, you make the world's greatest Mario mash-up level of all time. What's your reward? Nintendo supposes that creativity is its own reward, and prolongs the longevity of Mario Maker by giving away all of the levels that creators make for free. For some, that's the definition of community, but for truly dedicated makers, time is money. There's only so much you can give to Nintendo for free, after purchasing their game and console, before the relationship starts to feel one-sided.

One at a time

For a truly mashable Mario game, Nintendo needs to allow elements from different Mario game series into the same level. As it stands now, your whole level has to follow the appearance of a single Mario, be it the original or any of the sequels. Certain elements from some games have been re-illustrated to fit across all aesthetics, but there's a certain level of inconsistency that remains, even though consistency is forced by the limited palette. What we're saying that we want all Marios, all the time. Screw coherence. Embrace madness.

Slow your role

When you plug Super Mario Maker in for the first time, you have a very limited number of resources that you can use, so unless you're content making entire levels out of pipes that go nowhere and wandering Goombas, you're just going to have to wait until tomorrow to get a few more assets. This goes on for day after day until all possible components are revealed, at which point you can finally go back to that first level and add a damn Lakitu like you wanted all along. While it's a solid way to teach level building and keep people from going HAM, we're all adults here, guys.

Expect the unexpected

When you slap a bunch of unrelated parts together in Mario Maker, it's sometimes hard to predict how they'll interact. Sure, creating a pipe that spits out endless Spinys into a death pit is fun, but the system limits quantities of objects available in any level, and that might really screw up your plans later on when you need a few more. Things don't bounce or break when they should, fireballs don't melt ice, and strange interactions cause the kind of unexpected chaos that can ruin a level before it begins. Puzzles focus on working around limited programming possibilities rather than just having fun.

Red-headed stepchild

Nerds know that Super Mario Bros. 2 was never really meant to be part of the Mario series, and is in fact an adaptation of a game called Doki Doki Panic, which explains the unusual mechanics of riding enemies and plucking throwable, skull-sized radishes from the ground. Regardless of the misfit game, SMB2 is still incredibly fun, but Mario Maker all but ignores that fact that it even exists.

Who's the boss?

While Mario Maker gives you plenty of grunts to mess around with, what's a Mario game without the Koopa kids? We've accepted the loss of all Super Mario Bros. 2 bosses and poured one out for Triclyde, but it's a bit shortsighted to cut out a major element of Super Mario Bros. 3. Without Lemmy and Iggy, it's just a whole lot of Bowsers, and all you have to do with that guy is jump over him.

Amiibo no you didn't

Imagine a version of Super Mario Bros. where you could play as nearly any character in Nintendo's collection, powers and all. Hacked versions of Super Mario Bros. have been floating around for years where you could do just that, and incorporating other characters into the anything goes world of Super Mario Maker seems like it would be natural, right? Instead, when you scan in your amiibo collection, all you get is a skin overlaying Mario, with all of the powers of...Mario. Poorly animated and poorly imagined, the lazy implementation of amiibos is the worst failure of all.