A somewhat smaller experience.
Super Mario Maker on 3DS
2015’s Super Mario Maker was one of the most inventive user creation games ever released, and people flocked to it creating wild and fascinating new Mario courses. It’s taken a full year but the title has finally arrived on the Nintendo 3DS, a system that seemed made for the experience. Unfortunately this port doesn’t pack the full punch that the Wii U version does, as it’s missing a few key features.
The core experience of Mario Maker does remain the same, allowing you to craft your own Mario courses and play through ones that others have made. The course maker in the 3DS version stays almost exactly the same as the Wii U version, with a few small changes made to the interface. As expected, the touch screen on the system works perfectly for quickly crafting your own levels, and plopping objects wherever you want.
From the get go, you have a few more options than you did in the original, with half of the 60 elements used to build already unlocked. Additionally, you no longer have to wait a certain amount of time to unlock the rest. This time you unlock other items by playing Super Mario Challenge. Here you can play through 100 different levels developed specially by Nintendo, spread out over 18 worlds. These levels ramp up in difficulty, and are a great way to see how the masterminds behind Mario craft levels.
This turns out to be an easier way of unlocking new items while learning the essentials of designing, instead of having to wait days to get everything. This version also has access to the 20 lessons taught by the pigeon Yamamura, going over all the basics of creating courses.
While you do have access to everything sooner, this does lead to the major downside of Mario Maker on 3DS. There’s absolutely no option to upload the courses you make online, and share them with others. You can, however, share courses with people locally but they have to have a copy of the game on 3DS as well. This puts a big damper on some of the fun of the original Mario Maker, as you can’t show the world any of the courses you make unless you have a set of friends who also plan on picking up the game.
Honestly, it kind of defeats the appeal of even crafting your own courses in the first place. As the 3DS has a wifi connection, it seems like a huge missed opportunity to not allow this to happen. It also would have been a great feature to be able to create and save a course on both systems.
On the other hand, you do still have access to a huge array of courses that others have crafted on the Wii U version. This unfortunately comes with a couple caveats as well. Not every single course created on the Wii U can be played, as any that feature the Mystery or Big Mushroom are excluded. Nintendo also made the baffling decision to only let you search player-created courses by difficulty, with no option to search individual users. This means that the course numbers others share can’t be searched on the 3DS.
Online courses come in two options again: the 100 Mario Challenge and Recommended Courses. 100 Mario challenge has you playing through a world of a selected difficulty with 100 lives to do so. This mode can only be played while you’re connected to the internet. Recommended Courses, on the other hand, gives you a batch of recommended courses based on a difficulty level, and you can get a new batch at any time. You also have the option of downloading these levels to play later while you’re offline. These player-created courses are the main appeal of Mario Maker on 3DS and of course you’ll find both good and bad, it would just be nice to have easier ways to search for levels.
Mario Maker runs beautifully on 3DS, with crisp visuals and fluid controls. The different Mario time periods look generally great, with the exception of Super Mario Bros. U. While this option doesn’t run badly, there’s a definite graphical downgrade from the Wii U with everything looking a little jagged and blurry.
Load times are very impressive in the game, allowing you to switch between different options with only a few seconds in between. Menus are stylish as well, making for a sleek and smooth experience all around. It’s also great to hear the array of classic Mario tunes from different time periods once again.
The only issue that pops up has to do with the sheer size of things. The course creator is packed with options, and they can be a little straining on the eyes at times considering how small they are. I played the game on a New Nintendo 3DS XL, so I can only imagine how playing on an original or smaller model of the 3DS could compound the problem.
Sadly, there’s one other feature missing from this 3DS port: amiibo support. At this point in time there’s no option to scan amiibo into your game, something that unlocked unique costumes and character swaps in the Wii U version.
While the core experience of Super Mario Maker stays the same on 3DS, the exclusion of certain aspects definitely hurts the game. Not being able to upload and share your courses is incredibly disappointing, and somewhat defeats the purpose. The overall presentation is great, but the exclusion of features like a course search and amiibo support also feel like strange decisions.
If you don’t have a Wii U, Super Mario Maker on 3DS is still a great way to get a never ending stream of interesting Mario levels. If you do have a Wii U, however, you might be better off just sticking with the console version.
SCORE: 3/5 – FAIR