Link: A Critique of Super Mario Maker

This article in the Washington Post raises an interesting question: to what extent is a level editor’s potential limited by the game it’s editing? Level editors are often held up as mechanisms for expressing creativity, particularly for those without coding experience. However, the original Super Mario Brothers offers a very limited palette of technologies and tools–and limited palettes are the least forgiving to work with. The difficulties people are having in improving on the original game suggest that Super Mario Bros.’ simplicity is making it easier to understand the editing process–but much harder to express creativity in an interesting, rewarding way, and to get a good final result.


2 thoughts on “Link: A Critique of Super Mario Maker

  1. Interesting article. I think there are two problems here. One here is that any quality level editing requires quality testing, which validates whether the level is really fun. Nintendo probably made thousands of levels, or pieces of levels, that never got released. If you filter user-made levels through a similar strict process, you are bound to end up with better quality.

    Another issue is that when people enjoy Mario games, they enjoy a series of levels, or worlds, in a contiguous fashion. So I would argue that if you really want to simulate the innovation and fun of real Mario games, you would need not just good testing but also need to package a bunch of levels into worlds.

    1. Both excellent points! I wonder if the reason so many levels on Super Mario Maker are punishing is because they’re effectively at the end of Super Mario Brothers, created by people with lots of experience with the game for an expected audience of other skilled players.

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