As long as there’s been an Internet, there have been fan-made Mario games. From elaborate custom games to crossovers with other Nintendo characters to versions where Mario has a Portal gun, there’s possibly no game on earth that’s inspired as many fan creations as Mario.
This sort of inspiration is exactly what Nintendo is hoping to tap into with Super Mario Maker, their upcoming Wii U game that lets you make your own levels.
But here’s the thing: Super Mario Maker is not the first Mario level creator out there. Several fan-made tools let you do the same thing, right on your computer. There are, of course, not endorsed by Nintendo, but are still good fun. Here are a few worth checking out.
Super Mario NES Builder: Re-Create The Original
After 30 long years, the original Super Mario Bros remains iconic and impossible to improve on. With Super Mario NES Builder, you have your chance to try.
Super Mario NES Builder is a fan-made program you can use to design your own Mario levels in the style of the first Super Mario game. Even better: it comes with a complete recreation of that original game, so you can use those original levels as a starting point, which can be helpful if you’re note sure how to get started.
Like anything that lets people create things online, at least one person used this software to propose:
If you need inspiration, you’ll find a few level sets from other fans on the program’s website. Let us know which you like best, okay?
Mario Builder: Way More Stuff
Mario Builder is similar to Super Mario NES Builder, but includes more…stuff. You’ll find elements from several different Mario games, all in one place, allowing you to create some chaos, which is in the same spirit of the Mario Maker on Wii U.
There’s a dedicated community around this game, so you’ll find lots of help and ideas out there.
Lunar Magic: Hack The Original Super Mario World
ROM hacking, to me, is mysterious. Spending time going into the code of ancient games so that you can create your own levels is a heroic level of effort, but people do it. Other people spend even more time creating tools that make hacking simple, and Lunar Magic is one of those tools.
This tool, first released in 2000, was updated as recently as 2012 and even includes a built-in emulator for testing your creations. Because it’s a full-blown ROM hacker, you can create all kinds of things that some of the others can’t.
If you’ve ever wanted to create your own take on Super Mario World, this is the tool that you should be using.
Sadly, it’s impossible to find ROMs legally for commercial games on the Internet, so this program is completely useless. (Don’t ask in the comments: I can’t help you. If only there was some sort of engine capable of searching the web, then you could find such things yourself).
Reggie Level Editor: Make Your Own Wii Levels
If you’re a Mario fan, and own a Wii, you need to play Newer Super Mario Bros, the ultimate Wii fan game. It’s a complete hack of Nintendo’s New Super Mario Bros Wii with a full set of levels (some of which rival Nintendo’s own).
That game, and numerous other Mario hacks, were created using the Reggie level editor, which is a remarkably complete tool for making your own levels in New Super Mario Bros.
You’ll need a retail copy of New Super Mario Bros for Wii to use Reggie or to play any games created with it. You’ll also need to modify your Wii for HomeBrew in order to play the games on your Wii, which is surprisingly painless process.
What Would You Put In Your Own Mario Level?
The history of Mario is long, but it’s also a string of insanely popular games. As a longtime Nintendo fan I hope Super Mario Maker is a big hit for the company – if only because that would mean a never ending stream of new Mario levels for Wii U owners.
But for those of us who prefer doing design work at a desk, or want to try a different tool for creating levels, the above fan-made alternatives are all worth trying out.
I want to know: what kind of level will you create? Let’s talk more in the comments below.