Deep in the bowels of Nintendo’s headquarters in Japan, a group of shadowy figures sit around a table, discussing the future of Super Mario.
“Look, gentlemen.” One of them groans, “We’ve already given Mario a dinosaur friend. We’ve already made him into a baby. We’ve even shot Mario into space. What are we supposed to do next? What else is there?”
The assembled crowd shrugs and hangs their heads in shame. One man, however, stands tall. He has an idea.
“Let’s not do anything!” He shouts, as the others begin to laugh. “I’m serious. Let’s just have people make their own Mario game!”
And the rest is history. Or it would be, if that story were true. Either way, during its E3 2014 Digital Event today, Nintendo announced Mario Maker, a new Wii U game that allows players to create the Mario levels of their dreams. Players can use all of the usual pieces of a side-scrolling Mario level—from enemies, to Warp Pipes, to Question Blocks—and place them wherever they’d like. Mario Maker even lets amateur game designers switch between classic 8-bit graphics and slightly fancier Wii U-style graphics.
The whole thing has a very Mario Paint-ish vibe, which is a surprisingly deep cut for Nintendo to give a nod like this, but it’s not like Nintendo has ever been averse to mining its own history.
In other “do this thing yourself” news, Nintendo also revealed Amiibo, a new line of figures that can be scanned into select Wii U games and used to unlock extra stuff. They’re basically like Skylanders or Disney Infinity—which is to say that they’re exactly like those things—but with Nintendo characters instead of little dragons or Jack Sparrow. Nintendo says they’ll somehow be usable in Mario Kart 8 and a few other new titles, but the company was mostly concerned with hyping the figures’ Super Smash Bros. abilities in this initial announcement. In that game, you place a Mario figure, for instance, on your Wii U game pad, and then a computer-controlled Mario will appear onscreen and fight. This Mario’s data will be saved in the figure, which allows players to train their character and then take it to another person’s Wii U to fight the characters that are saved on their friend’s Amiibo figures.
It’s like arguing about who has the better toys, except one person’s toys can actually beat the virtual shit out of the other person’s toys. Nintendo says the Amiibo figures will be available in stores alongside the release of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U later this year.