Seven Game Series Begging For The Super Mario Maker Treatment
Super Mario Maker captured the imaginations of Nintendo fans at this year's E3. The Nintendo World Championship 2015 highlighted the insane degree of entertainment and unpredictability a creative mind can pack into custom stages. NWC 2015's final challenge was filled with surprising enemies like jumbo chain chomps and triple Bowser attacks, along with treacherous platforming sequences that puzzled the mind. After showcasing these possibilities, Super Mario Maker has us wishing other long-running franchises would receive the same treatment.
Editors note: This article was originally published August 11. Super Mario Maker is out, read our glowing review here.
For this list, we stuck to franchises with old-school roots like Super Mario. The combination of visual and design simplicity, along with players' familiarity with their respective games, make these franchises feel like natural fits for the formula.
The Legend of Zelda
The Zelda franchise is a perfect place to let creative players loose to craft their own dungeons and worlds. Of course, crafting your own version of Hyrule is a taller order than placing some warp pipes and Hammer Bros. in a Mario Maker stage. However, the screen-by-screen, room-by-room structure of the classic entries feels like an approachable format for self-expression. Battling a small army of Like-Likes only to find a chest filled with a single rupee sounds devious, but Zelda fans have been training for a huge challenge via decades of titles. Creators could also theoretically collaborate and stitch their dungeons together, creating a co-opted overworld together. Even better, players could swap between the visual style of The Legend of Zelda, A Link to the Past, and A Link Between Worlds to spice things up.
Sonic the Hedgehog
The Sonic series has largely been a disappointment for well over a decade. A Sonic Maker would be Sega's equivalent of tossing its collective hands up in the air and exasperatedly saying "You do it." Given the uniform look and style of the Genesis titles, players could weave together insane, crazy-straw-inspired loop-the-loops or strategically position springs to send Sonic hurtling into spike traps. Levels could also include hidden secrets like bonus stages and extra lives only reachable with Tails' flying ability or Knuckles' climbing claws. A nice addition would be the option to craft your own boss battles with Dr. Robotnick, complete with custom weapons and basic A.I. patterns. As long as every level ends with Sonic's fat foe fleeing in his damaged Egg-o-matic, we're on board.
Let's go ahead and acknowledge that Mega Man Powered-Up for the PSP was awesome. It allowed players to craft their own punishing Mega Man stages using all the trappings of the original NES games, all wrapped up in a cutesy art style. That was great, but we'd love to dive deeper into level-building using the traditional 8- and 16-bit framework. Given the Mega Man series' open-ended level select, bundling user-generated stages has the potential to come together into pseudo-full games, including Robot Masters with weapon vulnerabilities and item-gated secret rooms. Swapping between the classic 8-bit and 16-bit styles would also open up the possibilities tremendously. Similar to Super Mario Maker, being able to wall jump as X in a classic NES-style Mega Man level would be a unique experience for fans. Allow players to select from the dozens of Robot Masters and Mavericks to cap off levels, and you've got a huge number of possibilities that should fill the gap in the neglected hearts of Mega Man fans everywhere.
You don't need to be a gothic architect to understand what makes Dracula's castle so cool. You need a zombie-infested entryway, a perilous clock tower, some flooded sections swarming with mermen, and a handful of other sections to populate with every monster from history. Users could also stack their sections of the castle together like building blocks, allowing the Castlevania Maker to meld the levels into a larger castle map to give players a sense of place. The series has an entire bestiary's worth of difficult bosses, from raging minotaurs to gigantic spheres composed of dead corpses, which could allow players to surprise intrepid vampire hunters with a slew of final encounters. Maybe Frankenstein's Monster could've overthrown Dracula and he's the lord of the manor this time around. The 2D Castlevania series doesn't have a particularly varied visual style, but being able to swap between the classic 8-bit look of Simon Belmont's iconic adventure and the enhanced 16-bit aesthetic of Symphony of the Night would be more than enough for most fans.
Up next: Creating our own retro JRPGs and more...
A handful of titles in the market allow players to create their own RPGs, but none with the in-depth Final Fantasy trappings that we want. Many fans point to the 8- and 16-bit generations of Final Fantasy as the golden years, and the titles get more polarizing from the PlayStation era on. With a Final Fantasy Maker, players could return to these simpler times to spread geography tiles around a sprawling overworld and carefully design multi-floored dungeons. Square Enix could empower users by letting them loose with the series' huge selection of gear, weapons, and monsters to fill out every corner of their custom world. In the interest of creating a new tale on top of a new world, users could pull together their own key characters to fill out players' parties. Sure, you may need to bust out a keyboard when it comes time to add in the first fake-out boss's malevolent monologue, but that's part of the fun.
Samus' side-scrolling adventures have been MIA for far too long, so maybe eager fans could help craft her next intergalactic outing. Creating an alternate Zebes or entirely new environment for Samus to explore would require more than placing platforms, missile doors, and a handful of dive-bombing Skree. Samus' weapons and equipment traditionally gate off sections of her adventure, requiring careful planning for future routes and planting offshoot secrets. Nintendo could address this challenge by establishing a core set of required gizmos (ice beam, screw attack, etc.) that creators would need to place in order to complete the game. Solidifying a firm foundation would allow players to show off just how different their iterations of Samus Aran's new mission could be, with twisting, vertical passageways and deadly Metroids lying in wait. Being able to swap between the Metroid, Super Metroid, and an updated 2.5D art style would be a great option for injecting visual variety.
Donkey Kong Country
Many of us spent years of our lives cursing at the treacherous mine cart levels of the SNES Donkey Kong Country series, and some of us still do thanks to Retro's difficult Donkey Kong Country Returns games. Imagine being able to sketch your own winding minecart tracks using the Wii U's stylus and Gamepad and placing tricky banana bunches to bait players into certain doom. Donkey Kong Country's level variety would play well into helping players spice up their created levels, like placing floating spiky sea urchins in underwater stages or hiding Rambi the Rhino for a rampaging run through the jungle. The Donkey Kong Country series' legacy of fun co-op adds another layer of fun for players that invest time into creating levels, allowing them to play along and guide friends through their own creations.