A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Super Mario Maker lets gamers create and share their own Super Mario games. As with the games they're based on, this new title is a 2-D arcade game with platforming elements, where players travel from the left side of the screen to the right to navigate the levels, stomp on enemies, and work toward rescuing a princess. If anything, Super Mario Maker encourages imagination and design as players make their own worlds to play in. There isn't any controversial content parents need to worry about; violence is limited to jumping on cartoonish enemies or throwing fireballs at creatures such as man-eating plants. Parents should be aware that created levels look like older games in the Super Mario franchise, which could build interest in those titles. Players also can use amiibos for specific created effects; amiibos can be purchased at retail or online stores.
What's it about?
Most games let you play content created by other people, but not Nintendo's latest for the Wii U console. As the name suggests, SUPER MARIO MAKER lets you design, create, and share your very own Super Mario adventures with easy-to-use digital tools. There are 60-odd playable Nintendo levels, too, in case you don't want to make your own games right out of the box. As with past and iconic two-dimensional Super Mario games, you'll mostly run from the left side of the screen to the right, leap across platforms, break open power-ups, climb into pipes, and jump on enemies to destroy them. Gamers can choose from the past Super Mario games to start with as a template -- such as the classic Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario 3D World, or the newest New Super Mario Bros. U -- and after they've designed their world, they can play it through, hand the controller to a sibling or friend, or upload the level to an online community. You can, of course, download other creations -- not unlike other games that blur the lines between gaming and designing (such as LittleBigPlanet and Project Spark).
Is it any good?
Not only is this game fun and accessible, but it lets you play a near-limitless number of Mario levels created by Nintendo and players from around the world. You too can try your hand at making Super Mario adventures to play and upload. The stylus and touchscreen on the Wii U GamePad controller works very well for the task at hand, as you add backgrounds (such as an airship, an underwater scene, a castle, and so on); environmental items such as girders, blocks, and pipes; enemies; and other objects. You can mix and match some (but not all) elements between games, such as a power-up from a newer Super Mario game added to the original 8-bit Super Mario Bros. Or you can tackle the 100 Mario Challenge mode that makes you play randomly selected levels made by other people. There also are secrets and other Easter eggs worth discovering.
It's not a perfect 10, mind you -- your hands are tied in some areas, such as only using Nintendo's art and music assets instead of uploading your own -- but Super Mario Maker is an engaging and exciting package nonetheless.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about games that encourage learning with technology. How well does this title straddle the line between playing games and creating them? How do you feel about sharing levels you've created with others?
Talk about consumerism. Since this is the latest installment in a massively popular franchise, do you think its release automatically promotes other games in the series?
- Platforms: Nintendo Wii U
- Subjects: Language & Reading: following directions
Science: energy, physics
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, decision-making, strategy
Creativity: imagination, making new creations, producing new content
Self-Direction: achieving goals, time management, work to achieve goals
Tech Skills: digital creation, using and applying technology
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: September 11, 2015
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses and Fairies, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: E
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.