Super Mario Maker is less of a video game than it is a social experiment. On the face of things, it’s a maker’s paradise. Fans are provided with all the tools they need to craft their own levels that would fit right into beloved Super Mario titles from the original all the way to last year’s New Super Mario Bros. U, but each element has to be unlocked as you play through and design levels.
Once a level, or course, has been finalized, Super Mario Maker allows users to upload their creations for others to enjoy.
And that’s where things get real.
While the game requires you to beat a level before you upload it, as a safeguard to prevent a glut of nonsense, unplayable courses, a lot of fans of the Super Mario franchise seem to have one thing in common. The operative term here is schadenfreude, and if you aren’t familiar with it, the following Twitter video sums it up better than any dictionary definition ever could.
(Content warning for strong language.)
I’ve done it. I’ve created the greatest Mario Maker level to ever exist on the face of the earth. pic.twitter.com/nrjJxqhlfi — Clay (@SuperEpicClay) September 13, 2015
Anyone who played the Super Mario fan game Super Mario Bros. X, which was based around the same basic idea that Nintendo explores in Super Mario Maker, knows exactly how infuriating this type of level design can be.
Now, for a course to be uploaded in Super Mario Maker, it has to beatable. But with the tools that Super Mario Maker puts in the hands of all the devious creative geniuses out there, there’s a pretty fine distinction between a course that’s technically possible to beat and one that is rage-inducing.
The concept of ridiculously difficult Super Mario levels isn’t anything new, either. Long before Super Mario Maker was ever a thing, people dug down into ROMs of old Mario games and manually tweaked the data to create impossible levels, ridiculous challenges, and some pretty ingenious stuff.
That particular hacked ROM consists of a level that plays itself, using a variety of means to propel Mario forward while playing a song with the various in-game sound effects. It was a pretty stunning accomplishment when it was first released, but Super Mario Maker essentially makes it possible for any fan of the series to create something similar with no technical knowledge.
So far, we’ve seen a lot more creative schadenfreude than truly brilliant level design, but the game’s “Course World” already has a lot of interesting content available.
My first Mario Maker video is online. I had so much learning how to play. I can’t wait to play again. https://t.co/kRQOM5Y4VO
— Stampy Cat (@stampylongnose) September 11, 2015
The funny thing is that Super Mario Maker almost never happened in the first place. According to Time, Nintendo’s Takashi Tezuka claims it was originally supposed to be a sequel to Mario Paint.
“Originally we wanted to make a Mario Paint game, using the Wii U GamePad. And that was where the idea originally started, but at the same time, we wanted to take the Super Mario Bros. toolset that we use to create the levels, and we wanted to move that toolset over to the Wii U GamePad to make it easier to create the levels with the touchscreen.”
The first Super Mario Bros. game was released September 13, 1985, which means the franchise is pretty ancient. The industry itself isn’t that much older. In celebration of the anniversary, Game Informer, itself established in 1991, re-published its reviews of every game in the main series.
Unsurprisingly, the series has scored pretty well over the years.
Super Mario Maker wraps that entire, long history up into a neat package. Schadenfreude withstanding, long-time fans of the series are going to find a lot to like.
[Photo by Christian Petersen / Getty Images News]