Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS Review

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Game Title: Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Type: 3DS
Download: 2,919 Blocks
NA Availability: Retail | Digital Download
EU Availability: Retail | Digital Download

The debut of Super Mario Maker is something that made me jealous of the people who have access to Nintendo’s current home console.  I’ve always loved games where you can create and share levels, like LittleBigPlanet, and having Mario take part in a game like that is really interesting.  However, to this day, I don’t own a Wii U.

So, when the game was announced to release on the Nintendo 3DS, I was more than a little excited.  It’s actually the latest in a list of games that have been ported over to the 3DS that give me less of a reason to get the console, right there with Hyrule Warriors Legends.

Now that it’s out, and I’ve had time to dive in, let’s talk about it.  This is my review of Super Mario Maker for the Nintendo 3DS!

Story

While the game doesn’t really have a story on the Wii U, the new campaign in this release does have a limited story.  The same thing Mario’s always had.  When you start, Princess Peach is kidnapped, so you go off to rescue her.

Gameplay

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Super Mario Maker is a side-scrolling platformer with creation elements thrown in.  You play it like you would any other Mario game, but you can also create your own customized courses.  Basically, think of it like a 2D Mario game by the LittleBigPlanet developers.

Before we go any further, let’s talk about what they removed from the Wii U version when they ported it to the 3DS.  As many are aware, you cannot upload your created levels onto the internet to share with others.  The other main changes are the removal of Costume Mario (the power-up that used Amiibos to play as characters from other franchises in the game) and Giant Mario (Power-up that turns Mario into a Giant version of himself), though they kept the creepy Skinny Mario power-up that continues to haunt my dreams.  As such, this limits what Wii U-made levels the game can download and play.

Now, there are two ways to play the game.  From the Main Menu, you can go to the Create Section or the Play Section.  The Create Section takes you to the Course Creator where you can design and play your own custom courses.  Whereas the Play Section takes you to a set of different game modes for you to experience and learn about the course styles, elements, enemies, etc.

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In the Course Creator, you are given basically a blank slate and you create a course from there, though there are several tutorial lessons that teach you how to use your tools.  You have a Start Point and Goal, which you can move, and you create everything from there.  You can put in ground, items, lifts, enemies, power-ups, hazards, all of which are customizable.  So, if you want to create a giant staircase of grass leading to a giant version of Bowser, all you have to do is use the stylus to place things where you want, give Bowser a Super Mushroom, and it’ll be yours to play through.

The game most unique feature, however, are styles.  A course can be in one of four styles based on four Mario games: Super Mario Bros (NES), Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and Super Mario Bros. U.  The style dictates what abilities you have access to, the graphics, what enemies look like, and what power-ups you have access to.  Overall, though, you can switch between them.  Most elements are usable in all styles so you can swap styles to see what your course looks and feels like in the different games.

Now, if you want to Play rather than Create, there are several Modes to go through.  The Play Section of the game features Super Mario Challenge, Course World, and Coursebot.  Super Mario Challenge is a new campaign mode added in the 3DS version.  Course World lets you download and play Wii U courses, play the 8-course 100 Mario Challenge from the Wii U version of the game, and share your creations via Streetpass.  Finally, Course Bot will allow you to replay any stage you’ve saved, downloaded, or played in Super Mario Challenge.

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As a way to give the game more depth due to online uploads being removed, Super Mario Challenge is essentially a campaign for the game.  It consists of going through 100 Nintendo-created levels using the Mario Maker tools that help you unlock new elements for the Course Creator.

However, it’s so much more than that once you dive in.  This 100-course campaign mode is actually a cleverly-disguised 2D Mario Game disguised as a “Tutorial”.  The levels here are all well thought out and challenging.  Some are remakes of classic levels from their respective Mario games with new twists while others are entirely new types of levels never before seen in the series with elements that you just wouldn’t see in a mainstream Mario game.  It’s a challenging and fulfilling experience, along with challenges for each course, like finishing quickly or only killing a certain type of enemy.

Overall, the game is themed towards the course creator, but it has a lot of meat to it.  Running through Super Mario Challenge without worrying about challenges will take you at least 5-6 hours, and that is easily tripled if you do want to do the challenges for 100% completion.  Then you have several more hours in the course creator’s lessons and actually diving in, creating, and downloading Wii U stages to play through.  There’s a lot to do, even with Online Uploading removed.

Controls

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Controlling the game is pretty simple.  In the Course Creator, you use the stylus for pretty much everything.  When you’re playing, you use the Circle Pad / D-Pad to move and the face buttons to jump and dash.

Depending on your preferred play style, you may want to change the control scheme for the face buttons.  I like to play Mario games where A is jump and B is dash, but the default scheme has A and B as jump and X and Y as dash.  A quick change in the settings will fix that if you prefer the older style of controls, like I do.

L and R are also used in the Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros U playstyles, both to do spin attacks and propel yourself with the Propeller Helmet power-up.

Presentation

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Visually, I can’t really complain.  All of the respective styles look exactly like their original incarnations.  Granted, Super Mario Bros. U’s style does have a few jagged edges here and there on the 3DS, but it overall looks very nice.

The music quality is good as well, though there’s not a lot to say here.  All of the music is taken from respective games.  The World, Underground, Water, Ghost, Airship, and Castle themes are taken from their original games and used during those styles.  It works, but don’t expect a brand new soundtrack.

Performance I have no complaints about.  Load Times are only a few seconds long, and the game never really lags, be it in the creation tool or in levels themselves.  It plays smooth whether you’ve got 2 Goombas on screen or 3 Giant Bowsers on screen accompanied by 10 more enemies.

Summary

Super Mario Maker for 3DS is certainly a missed opportunity with 2 power-ups being removed and online uploads not being included in this port.  However, a surprisingly-deep campaign mode thrown into this release, along with the experience running just as smoothly as it does on console helps make this a pleasant handheld experience. 

8/10

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