Super Mario Maker was a video game fan’s dream come true when it released on the Nintendo Wii U last year. People finally had the chance to make their own levels without having to resort to ROM hacks or learning to code. Everyone who’s ever played a Mario game in the past dreamed of being able to create their own levels and share them with other people. Nintendo made that pretty easy to do. Now they’re giving you the chance to take your creativity with you on the go thanks to Super Mario Maker for 3DS. Unfortunately it seems that the tools have taken a step backwards in the move to a handheld platform, but all is not lost.
For those of you that may not know what Super Mario Maker is let me give you a brief run down. You use the 3DS touch screen to add elements from four different Super Mario titles to create your own levels. Add platforms, populate your levels with enemies, obstacles and other challenges to get past as you make your way to the end goal of the level, the flag pole. It’s an incredibly easy tool to use, just drag and drop anything from the rather sizable library of assets to where you want them in the level. You can then hop in, test those elements out, and makes tweaks as needed until the level is finally perfect. It’s an incredibly simple system to use and takes the old graph paper that you used to use and puts it right in your hands.
One of the best aspects of the original release of the title was the ability to share levels with other players. Sadly that functionality did not make the transition to the 3DS fully in tact. Rather than being able to upload your levels directly to a server where players from around the world could access them, either through finding them in the different single player modes, or by entering a specific code, you now can only share them with others via StreetPass. That’s it. You can choose a level that you want to share with others and when you StreetPass with them that level will be sent to their game and if they’ve chosen a level to share it will be downloaded to your system. That’s the only way you can share levels with people you don’t know. No more codes to be passed around the internet.
You can share levels with other people around you that they can tweak and send back to you, giving you a sort of collaborative level design process that’s kind of interesting, but I don’t know how many people are going to use it. It’s really disappointing that one of the biggest features of the original game was just taken out and not used. One other thing you’re going to have to take into account is that this game is only playable on one system. It ties some of the data to the SD card and if you put the game into another 3DS it will overwrite the data and format it to the new system that it was played on.
You can also access a feature called Course World. Here you can play either levels that you’ve created and set into small, four level versions of a Mario game. You can also play the 100 Mario Challenge, which comes over from the console game. In this you are given 100 lives to complete a set number of courses with differing difficulties. These levels are chosen from levels created by players on the Wii U version of the game. Unfortunately, again, there is no way to download these courses to play them again should you like them. You can’t search for that creator to get other levels by them and no replaying any of them whatsoever.
The last thing you can do is play through some courses that are recommended to you by the game itself. These will also come from levels culled from the Wii U game’s database of levels. These you can download, should you like them, and replay them over and over. You can add them to the Coursebot where you can save 120 different levels to play over and over again. These are taken from levels you’ve downloaded or levels you’ve created yourself. It gives you the chance to create your very own library of Mario levels that you enjoy playing.
While many of the design features are just missing and the online functionality is lacking not all is lost. There is hidden inside this package one of the best Mario experiences I’ve ever had; the Mario Challenge. This is a set of 100 levels broken up over 18 different “worlds”. This single player campaign is not quite as deep or overly challenging as some of the harder Mario experiences Nintendo has created. What it is, though, is one of the best. These courses are designed to ease you into learning just how to create your own Mario levels. It’s sort of a tutorial and a campaign all rolled into one and it’s really, really good. Each world is designed around a theme and uses a varying selection of tools that are available in the course creator. It uses those tools in various, interesting ways to show you just how those tools can be used to craft interesting levels. Once you’ve finished that world you unlock between two and four different items that you can use in the level creator. Yes, you still have to unlock many of the tools for the level creator, but you’re having a good time doing it. Really, these levels show off just how creative the designers at Nintendo can be. It looks, in some cases, like they’ve taken cues from some of the better user created levels from the internet and incorporated them into the design of these levels.
This is also where some of the difficulty really comes into play. Many of the levels will take veteran Mario players little time at all to complete. None of the levels themselves are really that hard. There are some that can get tough, but overall if you’ve been playing Mario games for years you’ll know exactly what to expect and what the levels want from you. Where the difficulty really comes into play is in the medals to collect. Each course has two separate “missions” for you to complete. These can range from finishing a level without pushing left on the controller, collecting all of the coins, defeating specific enemies, or beating the level without jumping. Finishing these missions earns you a medal. Once you’ve beaten all 18 of the main worlds and collected 40 medals there is a super secret 19th world with 12 levels that will tax even the best Mario players in the world. Mario Challenge really lives up to its name and would almost be worth purchasing a copy of this game by itself.
Yes, there are flaws in this package. Yes, many of the tools that made the Wii U game the hit that it was are missing. However, if you like creating levels and you have both versions of the game you can create the levels on the go and then recreate them on the Wii U. If you have a family that likes to create things together this is a really great game. It’s good for younger players who are maybe interested in level design and have a 3DS. It’s also really good for the single player game that’s included in the package. Yes, there are flaws, but there’s also a really good Mario experience included that you might want to check out for yourself, even if you never create a single level on your own.
Review copy of the game provided by Nintendo
Played through the full Mario Challenge and unlocked more than 60 medals. Created a handful of levels myself
Total Play Time: 18 hours