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Make it a (Virtual) Reality: Super Mario Maker

Nintendo lends itself especially well to VRFocus‘ ‘Make it a (Virtual) Reality’ feature, which makes it all the more heart-breaking that its stable of beloved franchises and classic videogames seem far off from getting VR adaptions. Recently the company has put a bold new spin on what’s easily its most recognisable franchise; Mario. Last week saw the company launch Super Mario Maker for the Wii U, handing the keys to the Mushroom Kingdom over to the player for the first time. VRFocus has pondered about the Italian plumber’s adventures in VR before, but this unique new take warrants another quick look.

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Super Mario Maker is a strictly 2D affair and there’s no reason that it couldn’t remain as such in VR. In fact, the mechanics of VR, some the wider field of view (FOV) to the head-tracking could allow for a much more streamlined creation system than even the Wii U’s gamepad provides.

In the standard version of the videogame, players use the stylus to perfectly place blocks, enemies and items, forming the courses that they’ve always dreamed of. In VR, designers would need only glance at the area they want to set something in and place it with the press of a button. This could go a long way to making Super Mario Maker’s already-liberating creation system even more free, with players casually glancing at the areas they want to change. Playing these levels would be fundamentally changed too, with anyone able to look ahead to later in the level and plan precise movements through tricky sections.

Granted that would require a lot of thought from the designer’s perspective. Sometimes it’s not knowing what’s just a few steps ahead of you that makes Super Mario so much fun, and this element would be all but gone in a VR version. Still, it does also present some unique opportunities to connect worlds. Imagine being able to glance under World 1-1 and see the sub-level below for yourself, without having to move down there.

It could also be used to create new types of courses. Imagine levels that are literally wrapped around the player’s head, forcing them to slowly spin round as they journey up a spiralling tower. Perhaps VR is even the missing link to make ‘Maker’ versions of the Super Mario 3D series and other famous Mario adventures, providing a far more intuitive toolset that would allow players to lean down into the world and make detailed changes in ways that aren’t possible with a gamepad.

In Super Mario Maker, Nintendo potentially has a major new addition to the overall Mario franchise. It’s easy to picture future systems getting one new entry as with the Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart franchises. If the company does one day finally get into the VR space, this is definitely one of the series that it should consider bringing along with it.