Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 30.11.2016

Review for Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS on Nintendo 3DS

Ever wanted to create your own Mario course, whether it's an ingenious set of puzzles or a level that's flooded by baddies? Nintendo have the solution for handheld players with Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS; a stripped down version of the original Wii U release. Can the 3DS hardware mimic and enhance the experience for players on the go?

For many gamers young and old, Nintendo are known to be amongst the best at crafting platforming games. From the very first outing on the NES to more contemporary offerings in the New Super Mario Bros. range, the Japanese gaming giant has served up pixel perfect levels for decades.

In the last few years or so, the fan community has attempted to create their own take on the porky plumber's side scrolling adventures. These coding folk have even gone as far as to release unofficial mods to blockbuster Nintendo hits, effectively expanding these games with custom content. Nintendo saw an opportunity to capitalise on the creativity and downright wacky approaches taken and, in 2015, released Super Mario Maker for Wii U. The game was a neat concept that allowed courses (stages) to be made using a series of simple tiles and grids. The platforming power was, quite literally, in your hands. It took some time for the game to be fleshed out through updates/DLC, but has seen a wealth of improvements.

Fast forward a year later, and the Super Mario Maker community is buzzing with millions of interesting, quirky and ingenious levels to play through, many of which are unlike any Mario game of old. One moment you'd be scratching that noggin' over a tricky spring-based puzzle that required a shell to have been collected at the beginning of the level, and the next it would be a near-impossible auto-scroller that certainly leaves an impression.

Screenshot for Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS on Nintendo 3DS

At the beginning of September, Nintendo confirmed that the game - in part - would be making its way to Nintendo 3DS, with many of the elements that became available to the Wii U edition through updates. At its core, Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS retains much of the original game's functionality and ease of crafting levels, but does away with some of the cumbersome waiting process at the start. Simply pick a backdrop - from the vintage overworld to Bowser's trap-filled dungeon - and drag platforms, pipes and the odd baddie onto the stage to concoct a challenging world for Mario to conquer.

Like the Wii U release, there's a whole stream of different tiles to play with - with skins based on four of the more memorable Mario titles of old: Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U. Initially there is a fairly limited selection of assets to pop onto the canvas - tiles, falling blocks and vintage baddies - but the game becomes more interesting when more dynamic features are woven into levels, where a regular level-to-right affair can become a completely new experience.

Gradually more features become unlocked that offer incentive to get that bit more complex with design that breaks beyond the standard block, coin and pipe conventions. It can be a little daunting to know just where to start, though, given the endless possibilities - however help is at hand through a set of quick tutorials to go over the basics. Most of it does come from a lot of trial and error, experimenting with tile placement and a whole heap of patience! The tool set does allow for chunks and portions of levels to be quickly attempted by simply popping Mario in the right place, though.

Screenshot for Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS on Nintendo 3DS

The course creation tool, as a whole, is intuitive and flexible - tiles are popped into place on the canvas with ease, with the game making some assumptions when stacking bricks together to build a wall, for example. It gets more interesting when trying out different combinations, for example a Goomba baddie inside what would normally by a coin block, perhaps? Or throwing a giggling sound effect into what would typically be a roaring Bowser.

One of the more interesting additions to the 3DS release is the ability to collaborate with friends who also own a copy of the game by exchanging incomplete courses via local-wireless, with a finished project gaining a special icon to show that you've paired up with another pixel platform guru.

Perhaps the most bizarre move from Nintendo is the omission of being able to upload the courses to the big World Wide Web. You could spend hours, if not days, devising the more notoriously challenging level to be left with the option to either share it via local wireless or StreetPass. Sadly there is no way, at time of review, to exchange these courses with folk around the globe. The main draw of the tool, with the Wii U edition in particular, is the ability to show off those intricately put together creations with the community; gaining exposure for those that take it a step further and make their ideas truly memorable.

StreetPass may certainly prevail in some regions, and is a neat feature to include, but the lack of online sharing is a big oversight for a company that's still plagued by an inconsistent strategy for online play.

Screenshot for Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS on Nintendo 3DS

Opting to spend hours on the move crafting levels is a possibility, however the game also accommodates those nippier sessions by using a selection of courses that Nintendo have built into the experience, with over 100 in-game medals to collect. Most of these are fairly standard side-scrolling Mario as the plumber attempts to reach that elusive flag pole. There are those that lean into the more creative realm, however, breaking beyond the traditional mechanics and thinking outside the box - an approach that might be beneficial for future Mario titles. You'll be dodging an onslaught of fireballs in Bowser's backyard one moment, and attempting to survive in a warped, colourful world the next.

Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS does support a handful of user-made levels from the Wii U release, accessible through an online connection and curated by Nintendo. These can't be searched as they can be in the Wii U release, and have been sense checked to make sure that they can run on the 3DS hardware as not all Super Mario Maker levels are compatible. The advantage is that these downloadable stages will work perfectly in your palms, and can be beneficial when there's not enough time to dig deeper into the ever-crowing catalogue of user-created courses. However, looking for a course penned by a friend or trending on YouTube? Good luck with that.

In terms of presentation, the game stacks up and holds up well on Nintendo's handheld. At first glance a traditional side-scrolling platformer may not exactly seem as if it needs mammoth horsepower and a platter of electronic chips to run smoothly. That said, the sheer flexibility and option to bombard the screen with hundreds of animated elements and mind-boggling physics does require a fair bit of power. It appears to be one of the reasons why there's not a full integration between the 3DS and Wii U editions, and perhaps explaining why courses penned on the bigger-brother release can't necessarily be shrunk down to portable form. The sprite work for the more classic games is, thanks to the smaller screen, nice and sharp - however, does suffer from a fair bit of the old jagged edge when swapping to the more recent Mario theme. Unfortunately 3D is omitted for this release, something Nintendo could perhaps have looked to introduce - in a similar vein to SEGA's revamped classics on Nintendo 3DS.

Screenshot for Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS does tick the boxes when it comes to core solo play, serving up an assortment of Nintendo's own crafted creations and also a handful of compatible user-made courses. The tool maintains the Wii U's edition's flexibility and has a good majority of tiles to play with. However, where the game truly is lacking is in the online component - no course sharing and searching is a big oversight and does dampen the selling appeal of the 3DS edition, something that Nintendo should resolve.






2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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