Like many out there, I never thought I'd be bitten by the Super Mario Maker bug. Yet, just a few weeks after its release, I'm finding myself sitting down to craft a new level whenever I have a few hours free.
Of course, it helps that Super Mario Maker allows its users to remix some of the greatest games of all time, but Nintendo definitely went all out in making its suite of stage-creation tools as accessible and fun as possible. The only downside to this approach? The few issues they neglected feel like glaring oversights compared to Super Mario Maker's overall thoughtful design. Granted, it would remain an impressive set of tools even if Nintendo chose to never touch it again, but, with just a few simple tweaks, Super Mario Maker could eliminate the few nagging problems holding it back from being absolutely perfect.
Improved Social Media Sharing Options
The social media functionality in Super Mario Maker is definitely a step in the right direction for Nintendo—a company infamously gun-shy about this kind of stuff. Every time you successfully upload a level, it's automatically posted to the Super Mario Maker Miiverse (as well as your personal Miiverse page), making it somewhat easy for friends to know about your newest creations. The biggest issue here is that other, more popular social networks are ignored in favor of Miiverse integration.
Simply put, you should be able to post your level codes to Twitter or Facebook from within Super Mario Maker itself. Sure, you could do this via the Miiverse's website interface, but the sheer number of times I've seen people post an image of their Super Mario Maker codes taken via a smartphone photo of their TV tells me it's more trouble than it's worth.
Better Thumbnail and "Big Picture" Settings
I'm proud of my Super Mario Maker levels. After working for hours, making dozens of micro-adjustments, and uploading it to the community, I'm excited to wait for the feedback to start rolling in. So it's always disappointing to see, roughly 99% of the time, the most boring section of my levels captured by the tiny thumbnail that accompanies each user creation. (Typically 1.5 screens in.) If Super Mario Maker let creators put a spotlight on the most interesting parts of their stages—a clever network of platforms, or an intimidating army of enemies, for instance—these thumbnails would better reflect the designer's intent. [Editor's Note: Clever readers have pointed out the thumbnails are based on where Mario is standing when the course is uploaded. Problem solved!]
And there's also the fact that Super Mario Maker openly shows a miniaturized version of your levels—complete with X marks showing where players die—but offers no way to make these images any larger. On the GamePad's small screen, this level overview is practically useless, and I've often found myself leaning towards my TV just for the sake of looking at the entirety of a stage's layout in one image. Allowing users to pull back enough while still making levels visually intelligible would provide a much better "big picture" of creations as a whole, giving a sense if some areas are too dense, sparse, or repetitive, all things considered. Plus, it's incredibly satisfying to see a long level you've crafted displayed in its entirety—a larger image would definitely be much more fulfilling.
Smarter Layering Options
When I finally unlocked Super Mario Maker's Mario 3 theme, I was excited to start crafting levels based around that particular game's large, multi-layered platform structures. So I was definitely surprised to see just how unfriendly it is to implement this very simple idea using Super Mario Maker's tools. Essentially, it's impossible to put any assets in front of these structures once they're already in your level; instead, you have to drag them to the side, plop enemies, coins, or other objects in front of where they used to be, then drag them back to their previous location.
It works, but it's also incredibly clumsy: a descriptor Super Mario Maker typically avoids. Since platforms of this type are an essential part of Super Mario 3 and World's design—and can add a lot of texture to SMB1's stark backgrounds—I'm kind of astounded just how awkward layering them can be; it's easy to imagine a lot of designers avoiding this act altogether. A concept so fundamentally Mario shouldn't be rendered cumbersome and complex by Super Mario Maker's otherwise intuitive toolset.
At this point, I've starred plenty of Super Mario Maker levels. Now, when I want to show off one, I have to scroll through my list, thinking, "Wait, what was the one I played last Saturday?" And if this list is bad news just a few weeks after Super Mario Maker's launch, I can only imagine how awful it'll be to dig through these favorites in just a few months. If Super Mario Maker would just give us a way to generate playlists, it'd be easy to sort these starred stages into distinct categories. Maybe I'd like a list of auto-scrolling levels, or one for inventive uses of the Amiibo-based power-ups. Whatever the case, I just wish it was easier to sift through the many stages I've favorited.
Level Sorting Options
To be fair, Super Mario Maker takes some steps to let you find the best levels: from the menu, it's easy to discover top creators, and levels that received the most stars. But if you'd like to be more specific with your search criteria, too bad. And this filtering option goes completely out the window with the 100 Mario Challenge, a great idea that often goes wrong because any level can make the cut.
For these reasons, I'd love to see the granular user-experience-tailoring options of something like Super Smash Bros. implemented in Super Mario Maker. Let's say I want to ignore all levels with less than 10 stars, meaning I'll miss out on every version of "Little Billy's First Stage." That's great! Even with such a basic restriction, my experience with Super Mario Maker could be so much better. But applying more specific search criteria to the entirety of Super Mario Maker's level database could give players much more control over their choices. If I want to boot up Super Mario Maker, and, say, find all the top-rated stages with the Super Mario World ghost house aesthetic, there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to do exactly this.