Super Mario Maker review

What lies beyond the first pipe in World 1-2? Don’t pretend you have not asked this question – if you are of a certain age, that is, and of a certain disposition. The first pipe in 1-2 is a taunt, the greatest taunt in all of games. And, come to think of it, when it comes to 1-2, what’s the deal with Mario?

Super Mario is all about the player’s control. But when 1-2 first loads in the original Super Mario Bros., Mario is already walking and there is nothing you can do about it. You have no control at all, and even 30 years after the fact, this is still enormously irritating. Mario pads into the first pipe he sees like he’s on rails, and then you’re underground and – oh! – now you’re in control again. But what about back up there? What wonders lay beyond the pipe that you could not help but head into?

This question used to drive my sister and me mad. All of one summer was basically devoted to exploring it. Much of the year beyond, too. We felt there must be a way to wrest back control, to break Mario out of his hypnosis, to jump the pipe and explore the expanse of 1-2 that lay above ground, just out of reach. This degree of devotion, this degree of investment, probably explains why Super Mario Maker is not just a level editor from the people who make Super Mario games. In Super Mario games, the levels are not just levels.

But, yes, this definitely is a level editor from the people who make Super Mario games. And it’s interesting stuff, too. Mario has split a little over the last few hardware generations, and it’s tempting, at first, to see Super Mario Maker as a continuation of the New Super Mario line. You know, the 2D one.