Nintendo's biggest release of 2015, Super Mario Maker, comes out in just a few weeks. I've been playing it this week for review, but that doesn't mean I have access to all of the content in the game. In fact, I've only seen a small selection of the creation tools. Nintendo utilizes a system in which new creation tools unlock each day – it makes sense in theory, but the actual practice of unlocking content in a set order both helps and hinders player creators.
News surfaced last week of Super Mario Maker's drip feed system in which course creator tools unlock over a series of days. Spend a least five minutes in the creation mode to unlock the next day's set of tools, and repeat the process over the course of a week. It takes nine days to unlock the full suite of options, and it's a conscious decision on Nintendo's part. The company wants players to gradually learn how to create course as they become familiar with the many possible combinations and possibilities. Unfortunately, it also has an adverse effect.
I'm creatively challenged when it comes to crafting virtual worlds. My few attempts at LittleBigPlanet levels were laughable at best. Thus, I entered the course creator in Super Mario Maker with some hesitation as a result of my own limitations. Nevertheless, I managed to create a respectable level that people actually played when I uploaded it. I still have yet to get any stars on the level, but some day a person will favorite one of my creations.
Constructing the level was simple enough, and the few options at my disposal prevented information overload. At the same time, I felt a tinge of disappointment because I wanted to try my hand at something a bit more elaborate. Oddly enough, my lack of creativity requires even more tools in order to mask flaws. I have a much harder time finding multiple uses for a single item than I do adding a bunch of different obstacles and enemies to a level. As they say, variety is the spice of life.
The way in which Nintendo handles the course maker mode also affects the more talented creators out there. I've already seen some surprisingly clever levels uploaded by other players, but the size and scope of the levels are a lot smaller than they'll be a few days from now. It's only natural that creations become more complicated and intricate as the additional tools unlock. But what about the person who buys Super Mario Maker on day one and has a brilliant idea for a level? They have to keep their imagination in check until the ninth day.
Fortunately there are enough inventive people out there crafting brilliant levels in an effort to circumvent the limitations. I've already played a number of courses that seem impossible given the tools currently available, and yet players figure out clever workarounds. Even if Nintendo stumbles in its content delivery, the players are there to brainstorm solutions and upload their results. I can only imagine how much more pronounced that will become when Super Mario Maker officially comes out on September 11.