NS Review – Super Mario Maker 3DS
Super Mario Maker launched for the Wii U on the 11th September 2015 , topping charts, racking up an impressive list of nominations (most of which it won), and even helping sell console bundles. Last year I gave Super Mario Maker my Wii U Game of the Year Award, a tough choice between that, Splatoon, and Yoshi’s Woolly World. What ultimately sealed the deal for me however was that SMM had something going for it that none of the others did, something I don’t think I’ve seen in a game before- ever.
Super Mario Maker was not only able to create a strong, thriving community, but it brought accessibility, imagination, and an arsenal of the needed ammunition to help realise creativity to the masses. From those who dreamt of becoming a game designer but not knowing where to start, to those who wanted a potential infinite amount of Mario gameplay, those who never thought about level design a day in their lives, those who just needed a way to fill their time, and more, Super Mario Maker was the platform in which we experienced the wonderful uniqueness of the designer within millions.
A well crafted game should often follow its own tone, not feel like a random mish-mash of alien assets all slammed together. While Mario does indeed run, jump, and triple jump throughout many diverse stages and worlds in his lifetime they all have a sense of belonging within the Mario lore. A course from some random stranger placed within New Super Mario Bros U for example would probably stick out like a sore thumb- it’s often hard to pinpoint exactly what does define an artists style, but it’s something many people have the sense of nonetheless. Experiencing all these styles from so many different people was a true pleasure, and it was a regular part of my day for months to boot up SMM, and grind my way through the 100 Mario Challenge, feeling great satisfaction every time I unlocked another costume and added it to my collection- hell, I even beat Companion Spring like 7 times (Reggie, call me).
So you can probably imagine just how hard I messied my pants when I heard that Super Mario Maker was coming to the 3DS. It is, in theory, almost perfect for the platform. A bitesized handheld adventure that fits neatly onto your touchscreen, packed with stages you wanted to save to take with you absolutely anywhere. Nintendo even delivered StreetPass functions to this port, meaning that wondrous sense of community would be heightened even further. That is, until we found out that SMM3DS will be a port with a hefty chunk of what made it so popular brutally carved out of it. Safe to say I was quite salty for a while after hearing this news.
Upon putting quite a bit of time into the game (though I’m still itching to play more), here’s how Super Mario Maker 3DS feels so far.
For starters SMM3DS isn’t some minimal effort port downsized and thrown onto the 3DS, quite a fair bit of time and effort seems to have gone into this and it’s immediately obvious. The loadup hit me with that familiar startup jingle that I couldn’t help but smile at. Yamamura and Mashiko are back with lots of new dialogue (a bit too much dialogue) that can thankfully be skipped quite quickly, but persists very far into the game.
Regarding gameplay, the 100 Mario Challenge was probably the part of SMM that got the most attention from me, so I’m thrilled to see it repolished and put neatly back into the 3DS version, with each level sporting 2 medal challenges for those who want a little extra difficulty. Everything from the switched up hub screens to the little variations in music just screams “we actually cared while making this” and it’s a delight that this doesn’t just feel like some watered down port hastily shoved onto another platform to grab a quick buck. Visually this game excels in almost every regard and is a perfect fit for the little screens of the 3DS. Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario World are so wonderfully rendered if I didn’t know any better I’d think these games were made for this platform. Where this game falls (and falls hard) in the looks department is of course the New Super Mario Bros U stages, where they not only don’t live up to the wonders of the Wii U visuals (obviously), but actually look horrendously jagged even for a 3DS game. In regards to overall presentation SMM3DS is very clean and professional looking, sporting a minimalist theme and a nice touchscreen logo. Speaking of, it’s slightly irritating we can’t use the normal controls to navigate the simple menu of the touchscreen, this forced switch seems incredibly unnecessary. The sounds in SMM3DS are chipper and uplifting, with a few faults I’ve found being certain effects don’t stack well and are a bit grating on the ears, as well as there being some strange and quite noticeable volume differences between stages. The bizarre distorted voice (that I loved so dearly) that proclaims the name of the item when you choose it has been replaced, and custom sound effects are no longer on the cards.
In terms of the stages that come with the game, SMM3DS boasts ” 100 new courses by Nintendo”. These dance between outright duplicates of classic stages seen previously in Mario games, to hearty mashups shaking up the standard Mario algorithm by throwing in the wacky course elements and designs that helped make SMM great. Despite being made by Nintendo these stages certainly have their own unique style not found in previous Mario instalments, and due to the diversity of the challenges presented in these courses there should hopefully be a little something for everyone. Unfortunately in the 3DS version we bid goodbye to Course ID’s and the delightful Mystery Mushrooms, instead we have a much heftier collection of creation tools right upon startup and no more waiting literal days for some of the rest to unlock.
Let’s talk about the community, specifically StreetPass functionality. It was fairly obvious since hearing this game would be on 3DS that not every one of the 7million+ courses created on Wii U would be available to play on handheld, which sucks, but is understandable. (How Nintendo managed to make such a technically polished game with so little bugs, in comparison to the overbearing infinite possibilities available at every little step of gameplay, is honestly still staggering to me.) So the big thing on 3DS is how StreetPassing will allow you to send and receive courses, and even help finish another players course. I honestly love the idea of splicing random people’s ideas into stages and it’s good that merely sending and receiving finished courses aren’t the only things StreetPass has to offer. However this still requires players to come across someone who has a 3DS, owns a copy, and has made transferable content. Safe to say given the huge chop in accessibility we’ll probably be seeing barely a fraction of the community present on the Wii U version, one that wont last nearly as long either. Hopefully it will at least bond some groups of people regardless.
Super Mario Maker 3DS has indeed surpassed my previous salty expectations thus far. I still think it’s a huge shame we won’t be rekindling that community we saw last year, but I’m delighted to be able to carry around one of my favorite Wii U games with me now, here’s to not trying to get visibly angry on the bus when I run out of lives and have to start over.
And thank god I won’t be spending ages skipping past boring auto levels now.
Thanks to Nintendo for providing a copy of Super Mario Maker 3DS for me to review.
How do you feel about Super Mario Maker 3DS? Will you be giving it a go? What was your favorite part of Super Mario Maker on the Wii U? Comment below or tweet me @MattiasMay. Thanks for reading!