A YouTuber known as “Pixelkabinett” has already created a Metroidvania-style level in a pre-release copy of Super Mario Maker, and it’s incredible.
For those unfamiliar with the term, “Metroidvania” refers to the style of game coined by Metroid and Castlevania where you explore an environment that has certain areas locked off until you upgrade your character’s powers. Pixelkabinett has brilliantly managed to turn Mario’s core gameplay into a Metroidvania by creating obstacles that require certain abilities. He locks off a path behind piranha plants that will require the player to power-up Mario with a fire flower, for instance, and has brick blocks that can only be broken once you’ve found a mushroom to make Mario big.
The latter example there is one of the reasons Pixelkabinett chose to use Super Mario Bros. 3 as a base, he explains. Honestly, hearing his explanations for game design choices is the most fascinating part of the video. For example, he talks about telegraphing enemy placement and behavior before you encounter it to reduce frustrations of dying in one hit, a mechanic familiar to Mario games but not Metroidvania ones. He gets around the game’s inability to check if you’ve beaten a boss creature by using tiles that slowly disappear under your feet act as the exit to a boss arena, so if you haven’t beaten that boss yet, it’ll be tough to get out of the area until you’ve beaten it. It’s all super interesting stuff. There are some restrictions that are insurmountable for Pixelkabinett, like the quick deaths or the mandatory 500-second timer, but he’s done an admirable job overcoming everything else.
If it wasn’t clear before, it should be clear now: Super Mario Maker is the game that single-handedly makes the Wii U worth buying. What I’m trying to tell you is that I just bought a Wii U. Yes, really. Pixelkabinett’s level is called “Metroid U” and you’ll be able to play it when Super Mario Maker releases in a few weeks on September 11.