Super Mario Maker gives you a level-design toolkit stocked with all of the familiar elements that have accrued over three decades of Mario games, such as pipes, blocks, goombas, and coins. Shaking elements with the stylus as you place them switches them to a variant, such as from a green-shelled koopa to red, or from a note block to a music block that makes a sound that, when hit, corresponds to its height (reminiscent of the music composition in Mario Paint for the SNES).
These can all be combined in unexpected ways, such as by sticking enemies in question mark blocks, or by making cannons that shoot coins instead of Bullet Bills. A big part of the game’s initial fun will be exploring these combinations and encountering old friends in new contexts.
The demo we played around with at E3 offered only a limited selection of elements to play with, but the final game promises many more. In order to avoid presenting players with an overwhelming slate of options all at once, Super Mario Maker doles them out over time. The video explains that using the editor for at least five minutes unlocks a new selection of elements that will become available on the following day. The options are spread out over nine days, giving you plenty of time to assimilate them. The empty space at the bottom is a custom palette, so you can have your favorite elements readily accessible.
In addition to gameplay elements, the editor also allows players to insert sound effects that are triggered on particular tiles. Some of these include animations, such as fireworks. Players can also record their own sound effects. The example provided is a “Happy Birthday!” message, but expect lots of farts as well. And unless someone is going to be diligently vetting every shared level, this seems like an area where Nintendo could end up in hot water with parents if Mario suddenly starts cursing at their children.
The video also offers some details on how actually playing the game, rather than just creating levels, will be structured. In order to share a level with the world, you must first be able to beat it yourself, ensuring that it is at least theoretically possible to beat every level posted. The 100 Mario Challenge gives you 100 lives to beat a selection of levels taken from the community. If that sounds a little overwhelming, there is also a 10 Mario version of the challenge.
Super Mario Maker arrives exclusively on Wii U on September 11, 2015.