Super Mario Bros. Wonder Paves The Way For An Exciting Mario Maker 3

I’m not far into Super Mario Bros. Wonder, but it already has me thinking as long and hard as an Inchworm Pipe about the future of my favorite plumber. In particular, I’m thinking about the future Mario will be facing once the community gets its hands on all of Wonder’s interesting innovations in the next Super Mario Maker.


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Since the first game debuted on Wii U back in 2015, Nintendo’s level design-focused series has let players make Mario levels themed to each of the plumber’s iconic 2D eras. In the original, you could make levels with the mechanics and aesthetics of Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U. The second game added assets from Super Mario 3D World (though not the extra dimension its name implies).

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While both games specifically namechecked New Super Mario Bros. U, that game’s aesthetic represents a decade of Mario history, given it has the same template as New Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. 2 on DS, and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Super Mario Bros. Wonder is the first time the aesthetic and gameplay of 2D Mario has meaningfully changed since 2006.

Super Mario Wonder showing Mario in Elephant form

And what a change it is! Wonder updates the art style, introduces a new voice actor for Mario, and quickly gives Mario and friends a new transformation in the form of a rotund elephant that can store and spit water from its trunk, plus use the appendage to smack enemies around. There are flowers that talk as you pass by, a variety of new creatures, new animations for old ones — some enemies’ eyes now widen in surprise as you jump on their heads — and humorous variations on returning favorites, like teenage Goombas with hair that makes them look like Sméagol in The Lord of the Rings: Gollum.

The biggest change is the introduction of Wonder Flowers which, when collected during a stage, cause the level around you to change. In one that I played last week, it brought a long line of Bulrushes, a stompy new blue mammal introduced in this game, stampeding through the level. Other times, it just changes something in the geometry, opening up paths that were previously closed off. In theory, this means that there are at least two routes through every level though, in practice, you sometimes need to activate a Wonder Flower in order to progress.

I’m early on in the game so I haven’t seen anywhere near everything it has to offer, but maybe the second biggest change I’ve seen is the introduction of badges Mario can equip that unlock new abilities and perks. The first one I earned gives Mario the ability to turn his cap into a parachute to slow his descent. I got another that let him kick through water like a dolphin. But I also got less sexy ones, like a badge that lets you earn coins each time you defeat an enemy and one that lets you start levels powered up even if you don’t have a Super Mushroom.

Super Mario Maker Player Creating a Stage

It all adds up to a lot of new wrenches in the familiar Mario formula. Given how creative players have gotten with previous Mario Maker sets, I’m eager to see what new opportunities Super Mario Maker 3 will open up for the next round of creators.

Will Nintendo give them a set number of badges from the game? Let them create their own? Both? Neither? Will players be able to place flowers and customize what they say? Seems risky, but maybe they could have a limited list of words like in a FromSoftware game? Will we be able to place Wonder Flowers and, more excitingly, determine what effect they have on the world? Will we be able to pair badges and Wonder Seed effects to create levels that can only be solved with that specific combination? There are a ton of possibilities.

But even if the next Mario Maker only contains the bare minimum, that will be fun, too. Being able to create puzzles that require you to carry water around in Elephant Mario’s trunk could lead to some Metroidvania-style design. I’d love to be able to place roly-poly hippos like the boulder in Raiders of the Lost Ark or create stampedes of my own with well-placed Bulrushes. As a longtime Mario fan, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a breath of fresh air, and I hope that refreshing breeze gets to blow into Mario Maker, too.

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