Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS is a thoroughly self defeating product.
A little over a year after the excellent Super Mario Maker was released for the Wii U, it is now available on Nintendo’s 3DS too. On the one hand, this seems to be such an obvious move- the 3DS is also a platform that lends itself to creation tools very well, given its dual screen, touch enabled interface; it’s the platform that should allow for more and better sharing capabilities, given that it has roughly six times as many users as the Wii U does, and given the unique sharing capabilities it can have via StreetPass; and in general, a side scrolling Mario game that keeps on generating infinite content for you on a handheld sounds like a dream come true.
So this should have been the perfect mix- Super Mario Maker on the Nintendo 3DS. That’s why we were so excited when Nintendo announced it earlier this year during a Nintendo Direct stream. However, it turns out that Nintendo have, for some reason that we cannot fathom, held back some of the most important features in the 3DS version of Mario Maker. You can still create levels and you can play through them. There is even almost full cross platform capability between the 3DS and Wii U version of the game (some of the more elaborate levels created on Wii U, that the 3DS wouldn’t be able to handle, aren’t playable on 3DS). But there is no way for you to upload your levels that you create in the 3DS game online- none. The only way for you to share your 3DS levels is via StreetPass (let’s get back to this in a moment).
"There is no way for you to upload your levels that you create in the 3DS game online- none. The only way for you to share your 3DS levels is via StreetPass."
Okay, but what about pulling from the Wii U levels, then? After all, the game is compatible with levels uploaded online from Wii U, right? Even there, Nintendo have gone out of their way to make the feature as deliberately crippled as possible. You cannot search for individual levels, like you can on Wii U. You cannot bookmark courses and return to them, like you can on Wii U. You can no longer follow creators, to be able to play their latest creations, like you can on Wii U. Most filters and search tools are missing, unlike on Wii U. All you get is a list of recommended levels, randomly generated each time, that you can organize and arrange by difficulty, as well as the 100 Mario Challenge. That’s it. That’s all you get.
This feels really confusing- it is almost as though Nintendo have deliberately gone out of their way to create as crippled a version of this game as is possible. It absolutely makes no sense, and is entirely antithetical to why Super Mario Maker took off last year at all. It’s not like the 3DS lacks online capabilities- it has a robust online suite, and it should have been able to tap into those for this game. Hell, even the fact that the game can’t piggyback off of the Wii U version of the game should you own it is frustrating. The two versions of the game are clearly compatible- why, then, can I not, for example, search for a level on my Wii U, and then have it sent to my 3DS where I can play it on the go? Why can I not create a level on my 3DS, then upload it online via my Wii U? This sort of solution would still have been cripplingly limited, but at least it would have been something, at least it would have promoted a kind of synergy between Nintendo products.
"All (well, most) of the creation tools from the Wii U are here, the interface is as intuitive here as it was then, and you can create some delightfully creative levels and courses."
But no, we’re left instead with- what? A level creator that won’t let you share levels? This is such a self defeating product that all these words honestly feel wasted on it. Anybody should know that this game lacks any clear or compelling reason to exist right as soon as the restrictions on sharing and uploading levels are made clear.
It’s a shame, too, because apart from this, the game works on 3DS, and it works as well as you would imagine. All (well, most) of the creation tools from the Wii U are here, the interface is as intuitive here as it was then, and you can create some delightfully creative levels and courses. There is even the 3DS exclusive Super Mario Challenge mode, which sees you go through a series of short, Nintendo created Mario levels, all of which implicitly teach you the fundamentals of good level design. As a matter of fact, between that, the 100 Mario Challenge, and just pulling from the courses randomly recommended to you an playing through them, Super Mario Maker on 3DS almost begins to make a case for itself- instead of looking at this as a level creator with crippled share functionality, look at this as a sidescrolling Mario game that has infinite content being generated for it, giving it a longevity beyond most Mario games, that also happens to have user content creation tools. In that light, the lack of sharing functionality almost wouldn’t matter as much, because the level creation is just a bonus feature, right?
"Super Mario Maker almost feels like a deliberately stripped down, hastily slapped together port of the game."
Sadly, however, the game is called Super Mario Maker, and it boots you right into the level creation screen. Creating your own courses isn’t a bonus, it’s the reason for Super Mario Maker‘s existence in the first place, and the sharing functionality being gone is a major, fatal knock against this game. It’s especially sad, because the sharing functionality the game does have is great- StreetPass sharing works as well as you would expect, and gives you a taste of what being able to share levels with others would be like. But StreetPass, while perfect for a densely populated country like Japan that also has a lot of people buying and owning a 3DS, does not work in the west as well- there is no reason for it being the only way to share your levels in the game at all. StreetPass in addition to online sharing, sure, that would have been great. StreetPass with online sharing enabled via the Wii U version of the game, annoying, but I at least could have dealt with that. Just StreetPass? That kills this game dead in its tracks.
Super Mario Maker almost feels like a deliberately stripped down, hastily slapped together port of the game. It’s a 3DS game with no 3D functionality, a Wii U and 3DS cross platform game with no way for the user to interact with the Wii U version of the game directly, and a level creator with no level sharing. It is a thoroughly self defeating product in every sense of the word, and as it exists, it simply should not have been pushed out to the market.
This game was reviewed on Nintendo 3DS.
The exclusive Mario Challenge Mode is fun and well designed, the full extent of user creation tools being available is appreciated, the UI is as intuitive as ever, the game can work as a 2D Mario game with endlessly created community sourced content
The lack of sharing functionality kills the game outright, the lack of meaningful interactions with the Wii U version of the game are outright baffling, the missing 3D functionality reinforces the notion that the game was a quick, hastily put together last minute port, the lack of meaningful search and filtering functions for online levels thoroughly makes this release entirely useless
Super Mario Maker is a thoroughly self defeating product in every sense of the word, and as it exists, it simply should not have been pushed out to the market.