The very idea of having the tools to build your own Super Mario game is the stuff dreams are made of.
Last year, Wii U owners were able to live out those dreams and not only took the ball Nintendo placed in their court, but slam-dunked it in ways nobody could have ever imagined. It was a bold, daring experiment from the Big N – who are often reprimanded for how conservative they are with their creations – giving unlimited power to a community.
And it has paid dividends. In fact, it’s hard to argue that the success of Super Mario Maker will forever change the face of the Nintendo’s development cycles. People want to create, build, and share their own vision of what makes a Mario game great. The future in that, at least, seems incredibly bright.
The great news is that the 3DS version of Super Mario Maker is a fantastic celebration of that, selecting some of the best contributions from the community. The creation tools are more vast at launch than the Wii U, and there’s a genuinely clever 2D Mario campaign built in which harmonises the various generations of the plumber.
But the biggest surprise to most will be that this isn’t a straight port. And to address the elephant in the room – or mushroom in the question mark box – the 3DS version does not allow you to share created courses online. When porting a full HD, home console experience onto aging handheld hardware, that probably shouldn’t come as much of a shock. Yet it’s hard to deny that a significant chunk of Mario Maker’s charm is lost without it.
There is a thrill in logging into the game each time to see the number of people who tested your level, how they’re rating it, and what they’re saying about your work. In comparison, 3DS Mario Maker does feel isolated next to its bigger brother.
That’s not to say you can’t share levels at all. You can do this locally or by using Streetpass, but opening up your creations on a global scale is certainly a more enticing prospect.
Amiibo support has also been revoked, which actually seems like a more bizarre omission especially when playing on a New 3DS. While it merely provides new costumes for your characters and adds a giant mushroom to certain courses, it’s a fun extra. So why it’s been stripped back altogether is, just, well, odd.
But what you will get is Super Mario Challenge filled with 18 worlds, 4 levels in each. What’s great about SMC is that each level borrows from a different generation of Mario. From the original, 8 Bit extravaganza, through SMB3 and World, and ending with Super Mario Bros U. As you might expect, each setting both limits and focuses what you can and can’t do on each course. For instance, you’ll only ever get the Raccoon suit in Mario Brothers 3, but can only wall jump in Super Mario Brothers U.
So you’ll need to be flexible when considering how you tackle each level, open to variety and versatility, and prepared to make adjustments to your gameplan on the fly. It’s such a devilishly brilliant way to not only reinvigorate what you’ve come to expect from Mario, but also freshen up a 2D Mario game while staying true to its roots.
The same applies to the fantastic 100 Mario Challenge which has been a staple of the Mario Maker series thus far. Essentially, you’ve got 100 lives and have to make your way through 100 Mario levels that have been designed by the community. Naturally, this is a bit like potluck as one level might be brilliantly designed and well thought out, the next might be practically impossible to get past, and the following might bore you to tears. You can ‘swipe right’ on the touch screen to skip the level without penalty if it’s not to your liking, though, so that does at least make sure the game doesn’t stay frustrating.
But then we get to the creation tools themselves which are actually really smart and sophisticated. You can create some genuinely cool stuff here. There’s the basics like warp pipes, coins and goombas, but you can also add in sound effects, choose the environment – from underwater to Ghost house – and even pick the Mario generation you want to build in. The game allows you to try out the level before submitting and you can also save a set amount stored, ready for distribution at any time.
Where a game like Minecraft might seem quite daunting to a newcomer because there’s almost too much to do, Mario Maker really is open to anyone. You feel it’s within your capabilities to produce something special and the tools can be used effectively on both a basic and advanced level. Nintendo have provided enough tutorials and made everything appear so self-explanatory that anyone can confidently dive in and end up producing something.
Despite its drawbacks and some of the stripped functionality, the package remains an essential purchase in handheld form. There’s plenty of replay value in both the 100 Mario Challenge and Mario Challenge Vanilla – which also offers 2 medals of varying difficulty on each stage, and the tools themselves work so well with the Stylus and Touch Screen.
Super Mario Maker 3DS isn’t definitive and it’s hard to argue whether one should buy it instead of the Wii U version. That said, the exhilaration of making a Mario level whenever inspiration takes you, wherever you are in the world, is a pretty amazing thing. And even if the creation tools don’t keep you, the lure of one of the best 2D Mario experiences in recent memory surely will.
+ The variety of Super Mario Challenge offers a refreshing perspective on plumber platforming
+ Funky new powers, weird and wonderful
+ The creation tools are simple, yet sophisticated
– Can’t share your levels online
– No Amiibo support
– Super Mario U translation suffers a bit from reduced screen size
Super Mario Maker 3DS
8 out of 10
Platform review on :- 3DS
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