Super Mario Maker released last year for the Wii U and was a resounding success. The Super Mario games have always been and forever will be one of the most popular and beloved video game series of all time. What made Super Mario Maker not only such a great Mario game, but an incredible game in general, was the ease of creating your very own dream Mario levels. Uploading them for other people to play made me feel like a bonafide Mario game designer. I then, of course, looked through the hugely popular thread on Reddit and found what a true creative genius could do with the tools at your disposal in Super Mario Maker and went back to the drawing board to try again, and again and again. Not once was I frustrated with my lack of creativity; it was a challenge, a challenge to myself to do better. Super Mario Maker is the game the Nintendo Wii U was designed for, the controversial gamepad finally living up to its potential. Finding out that Nintendo would be porting Super Mario Maker to the 3DS was met with much excitement from the ever expanding community. The thought of starting a creation at home on the Wii U, then taking your trusty 3DS on a morning commute to finish your level sounded like heaven, but in reality, it would turn into the creative community’s hell.
Nintendo has made a huge mistake in not allowing you to upload your created levels in Super Mario Maker 3DS. The only way to share your creations is via the 3DS’ Streetpass or via a local wireless connection. This is fine if you only want to share your levels with a limited number of people whom you actually know in real life and that have a 3DS systems of their own. Okay, so not being able to upload levels created directly from the 3DS itself is annoying, but saving what you have created on the go and then firing up the Wii U to upload it later would be fine. Well, I’m afraid you can’t do this either. Anything you create on the 3DS stays on the 3DS and vice versa with the Wii U. This really is a massive letdown from Nintendo because creating levels on the 3DS works extremely well. If you go straight from the Wii U’s Gamepad to a 3DS (even an XL model), then it will obviously feel cramped in comparison, but if you haven’t played the Wii U version for a while, then you will hardly notice the difference.
All of the creative tools have made it over to the 3DS port apart from the Mystery Mushroom feature which would let you dress 8-bit Mario up as other characters, such as Link. This being absent from Super Mario Maker 3DS is not a major issue. There is also a limit of 60 unique tools to use due to the limitations of the smaller 3DS, but again, this is not a major issue as I never once felt like my creativity was limited due to the amount of tools I had at my disposal. In short, actually creating levels in Super Mario Maker 3DS is as fun as the Wii U version, but with no ability to share your creations properly, there is really no point in spending any significant amount of time doing so, well, for the established creative community, anyway. I can see this version of Super Mario Maker becoming popular with younger audiences who could share creations at sleepovers or in the school playground. The tutorial will also help the younger audiences create amazing worlds as it is very thorough in showing you how to create, what tool does what, etc., but in a fun, comedic way thanks to the two tutors, a happy and bubbly lady named Mary O (yeah, haha) and a cheeky pigeon named Yamamura. There are 10 tutorial courses to go through, each one showing you how to create something, then letting you play a level, and finally breaking down how it was made.
It is not all doom and gloom, though, for Super Mario Maker 3DS, and actually, there is one feature that actually makes this game one of the best 3DS releases this year: the brand new Super Mario Challenge. This is exclusive for the 3DS and acts as Super Mario Maker 3DS’ main campaign mode. There are 100 levels, each one of them created by the true masters of Mario level design, Nintendo. These are some of the best platforming levels I have ever played; honestly, they are that good. Some levels are inspired by Mario levels of old, and some are just the evil creations from the development team. They are fast, frantic and challenging, and an absolute joy to work throughout. Like Super Mario Maker 3DS’ Wii U counterpart, the four different versions of Mario are here (Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros. U), and a big reason why Super Mario Challenge is an absolute joy to play, for me anyway, is because we can play levels with the older looking Mario worlds. The development teams of the original Super Mario Bros. could only have dreamed about the levels created in Super Mario Maker 3DS.
You can easily finish Super Mario Challenge in around 4 to 5 hours if you just skim through the levels, but Nintendo has a challenge for you, well, actually two challenges. At the start of each level, you will be presented with one visible challenge to do and one hidden challenge, and once you complete the first challenge, the second one will be shown. In return for doing these challenges, you will receive a medal; get both medals and then that level is unlocked for you to edit in the create mode. This is perfect if you are struggling to create anything decent and want to use Nintendo’s brilliance as a stepping stone. Apart from unlocking the level in the create mode, the challenges will also give completionists some replayability. The challenges are also as diverse as the levels themselves, ranging from something simple like finishing the level as Fire Mario or something a bit trickier like not letting go of the right D-pad button, or even finishing the level in a crazy short amount of time. If you want to go back to a level at a later stage, then you can easily replay any level through the Coursebot option. 100 Mario Challenge is also back, in which you are given 100 lives and then play through randomly downloaded levels created by users. This really is a smack in the mouth for people wanting to upload their creations from the 3DS, as this mode shows the 3DS can actually connect to the Nintendo server.
Platforms: 3DS, Wii U
Release Date: 2nd December 2016