Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS Review
When Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS was revealed, there was elation. It was something no one expected and a pleasant surprise. Then Nintendo slowly revealed the bits of the game that wouldn’t be making the transition to the portable and the hype deflated like a two week-old party balloon. So can Super Mario Maker be good without one of its defining features? Is making stages without being able to share them to a wider community still fun? Let’s find out.
The packaging and the presentation of Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS looks and feels exactly the same as the Wii U version. The game starts with a welcome from Yamamura and Mashiko/Mary-O and then you’re pretty much just shoved straight into the editor. Unlike the Wii U version, most of the tools are unlocked from the get-go with others being unlocked later in the single player modes. The entire creation toolkit is available here as it was in the Wii U version, with one notable exception – the mystery mushroom. That also means there’s no event courses and no amiibo support for the game whatsoever. This won’t be the first thing you’ll find removed from its console brother.
The tutorial and guides from the two ‘hosts’ may seem like an annoyance or hand holding but they actually add some personality to the game, something the Wii U version didn’t have. It’s a Mario Maker game, sure, so it doesn’t need personality – but it’s a nice touch. The lessons will teach you a technique or tool and then you’ll have to play it out. If you’re a hardened Mario and Mario Maker fan you still might find some good ideas for your own levels, if not you can completely skip all of this.
The best part of Super Mario Maker on the Wii U aside from making levels was the community behind the game. That community is here on the 3DS version but essentially in a ‘read only’ fashion. You can download levels from the Mario Maker servers (levels that have been made on the Wii U version) but there’s no way to share back your own 3DS creations. You can’t even share directly to a local Wii U or through anything like QR codes. The courses aren’t stuck on your console; you can share them via StreetPass or locally with someone else who has the game. The amount of StreetPass levels that can be retained in the game’s memory is quite large at 100 but finding that many levels in the wild could take some time.
Even though you can download courses through the recommended features there’s nothing more to see with them. You can’t see the clearance rates, the profiles of the people who made it, you can’t ‘Yeah’ it and share your appreciation… and even though the Nintendo 3DS has Miiverse, there’s no way to say ‘hey good job’ or ‘your level broke my soul’ like you can on the console. Even though you can get the randomly selected recommended courses you can only filter them by difficulty. This is just one of the many ways the game makes you feel trapped; you can search ‘this’ but you can’t search ‘that’; I can download courses but I can’t say thanks back.
Possibly the one big saving grace and standout feature of this Nintendo 3DS version is the Super Mario Challenge. It’s essentially a 100 level Mario game included, but instead of a lame story to get started, and an ending, it offers a crazy mixed up version of Mario where no challenge is alike. There’s levels that are races, levels that require you to collect enough coins to finish. Each of the levels also has two medals to earn for added difficulty and reward; there’s finishing a stage and then finishing it and really finishing it. If you don’t care about uploading your courses or sharing them and just want to enjoy something Nintendo made, then this is the mode for you – it itself could be its own Mario game. The 100 Mario Challenge from the Wii U version also makes an appearance once again adding further value to the game.
Getting a fully featured Super Mario editor to work on the Nintendo 3DS is nothing short of a miracle. To think how these games were made and then to be able to have that in your pocket is astonishing. That said, there are some drawbacks to the visuals to get it to work. Everything from Super Mario Bros. to Super Mario World works and looks fine, it’s the graphical stylings of the New Super Mario Bros. editor that have taken the biggest graphical hit. The game looks worse than New Super Mario Bros. 2 with even lower quality character models and backgrounds. All the other modes translate fine to the small screen but this one suffers. The soundtrack remains intact for the most past but they have removed the noises and voices from the tool selection and moving around the screen, which loses a little charm.
Super Mario Maker on the Wii U was a celebration of the franchise’s history by allowing you to make your own piece of it and share it with the world. That entire feature is completely missing from the game and you can’t help but notice its absence. Nintendo has attempted to make this up with StreetPass sharing and local play but it’s just not the same, there’s so many compromises to fit this game onto the Nintendo 3DS that you have to ask “why does it exist?”
However, the addition of the tutorials to the maker modes, the addition of the Super Mario Challenge and retention of the all great single player content and the ability to still download courses means this game is less Super Mario Maker and more Super Mario Fan Edition. It’s hard to recommend this one, especially when the Wii U version is far superior and feels more alive and has that community. The Super Mario Challenge is interesting and should be revisited but it doesn’t stop the whole package from feeling incomplete.