An Idiot’s Adventures In Gameland: Steve McNeil

15: I Am The New Miyamoto (Fri 11th September 2015)

If you own a Wii U, stop reading this now and go and buy a copy of Super Mario Maker.

If you’re still here, stop reading this now and go and buy a Wii U and a copy of Super Mario Maker.

If you’re reading this, you’re either an idiot or incapable of following the simplest of instructions, but we’ll soldier on regardless. While you read the witterings of a man who is made almost entirely from pizza and whisky, everyone else is playing on one of the greatest games ever.

They’ve cracked it. Nintendo are the first studio ever to create a level editor that is as much fun as the games on which it is based, possibly more fun. Every corner and crevice of the game is crammed to bursting point with charm, warmth and joy. Even the act of placing a single block on screen is satisfying, thanks to the accompanying sound effect playing in time, and in tune, with whichever iconic backing track is currently squirting into your ear pipes.

Of course, the appeal of the game isn’t in placing musical squares. It’s about finally taking the reigns and creating the Mario level you always dreamt of, then sharing it with the world. It’s a proposition that gamers have been tempted with since the very beginning. From the promise of learning how to program your own games in Basic on the Amstrad CPC (or similar, 8-bit computer snobs), to the point-and-click charm of LittleBigPlanet, for as long as there’s been games, there’s been the desire in many of us to have a go ourselves.

But it’s never really delivered. Basic was HORRIBLE – and debugging is a less-than-appealing proposition to your average seven year old with a bicycle. Media Molecule came as close as anyone but, in truth, LittleBigPlanet’s “Popit” was a cumbersome and confusing device at times, despite their best efforts to minimise faff. Super Mario Maker, on the other hand, makes the process as simple as drawing a picture of what you’d like, thanks to the inspired use of the Wii U’s gamepad. You couldn’t ask for a more perfect interface for turning your ideas into reality.

Having gushed unbearably, I should point out that there’s a couple of things that aren’t QUITE perfect. The absence of checkpoints means that, if you fancy creating a really fiendish level, you can’t give people the chance to save progress half way, and the inability to search for user-created levels solely amongst your online friends makes sharing with your peers more difficult. These are minor quibbles though. If you’ve ever enjoyed a Mario game, or even thought that you might, this title will bring you hours upon hours of joy.

And speaking of joy (shameless plug alert), my live videogaming comedy show, Go 8-Bit (, returns to London next weekend (Sunday 20th) after a three-month break. If I’ve got time, one of my Mario Maker levels might even be turning up in the show as a challenge. If you can’t make that, or simply don’t want to, I’m also at EGX and Play Expo in Manchester in the next few weeks so, if you’re planning on attending either of those, come and say hi!

Or don’t. It’s entirely up to you. Do tweet me (@stevemcneil) if you make some cool Super Mario Maker levels though. I need my fix.

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