Much like Super Smash Brothers, Nintendo have landed on another successful Wii U title to port to their handheld console. Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS aims to transfer the level-building fun to a portable medium, but are the compromises of a limited console enough to make their efforts seem pointless?
A Comprehensive Tool
In honesty, it surprised me with how comprehensive a tool this game actually is. Super Mario Maker for 3DS completely delivers on its promise of a bespoke Mario level creator. The interface is sleek, and if you can dream it, you can do it. The tutorial covers every aspect of the creative suite and is sidelined by a cute narrative between a pigeon called Yamamura and Mashiko, who guide you on your way to becoming an experienced level designer. It’s a fun, compelling addition that adds a little bit of humor. You can tell it’s designed with a younger audience in mind, and this game will no doubt inspire younger gamers to learn how to make their own games. For example, you tap a cute dog to undo changes and charge a blissfully animated rocket to wipe the slate clean and start over. Whilst small, these design choices are typical Nintendo and showcase the passion and charm they inject into each project.
The Creative Challenge
Now that I’ve commented on the creative suite on show, I think it would be best to deal with the elephant in the room. The 3DS port of this game is limited. You can only share your creations locally, instead of sharing a course with the world like on the Wii U. This basically amputates the entire experience, as the entire draw of the game on Wii U was being able to share and play courses from Mario fans across the globe using the ID system. Nintendo make up for this by allowing you to play courses from the Wii U, but you cannot search for them and must rely on randomizing game modes to play them. The mystery mushroom is also absent, which means that amiibo functionality is gone, so courses can not be made with a different character in mind. There is also no use of 3D, which I can understand, but when you’re limiting the game in such a way, it might have been nice to see that integrated, perhaps making the backgrounds pop out to give each course some more life.
Rigged Consolation Prize
Another means to make up for the limited port is a 100 level game mode called Super Mario Challenge. The game puts you through 18 worlds worth of Mario levels designed by Nintendo themselves. I enjoyed my time in this mode, and each level has 2 distinct challenges through which you can unlock medals, adding a great amount of replayability. Here’s the kicker, though. The only way to unlock the items you use to create courses is by beating each world, and this mode has a steep difficulty curve. Whilst I enjoyed the challenge – the platforming feeling like Super Meat Boy near the end – I couldn’t help but dwell on how tough it was, and by locking the content behind a rather extensive, time-consuming game mode, Nintendo are essentially neutering the creative process from the get-go, forcing you to trawl through this long, and (at times) infuriating mode to appreciate the full feature set of Super Mario Maker.
Overall, when I finished up playing this title I was left with a bittersweet taste in my mouth. Although I enjoyed playing through the 100 challenging levels, that was not the point of this game, and whilst I had fun playing around with the level designer, nothing compels me to create something complex when I can only share it with people I know. In this case, it feels like Nintendo have compromised too much, and if you want to experience Mario Maker at its best, you’d be smart to stick with the fully-fledged Wii U release.
What we liked:
- Intuitively designed creative suite made portable
- Super Mario Challenge is difficult, but fun
What we didn’t like:
- No means to share courses online
- Lacking the popular Mystery Mushroom/amiibo functionality
- A limited port in every sense
- Locking creative assets behind a tough endurance test
This review was written using a 3DS review copy provided by Nintendo. How did you like the original Super Mario Maker on Wii U? Do you think it was worth the port? Tell us in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!