Nintendo likes to make ports of their games. A game can start off as an exclusive for one of their systems and then after a period or time the game is translated for their other hardware. It’s happened many times before and makes perfect sense considering the two different hardware platforms that Nintendo has. While sometimes the port to Nintendo’s portable has to be lightened up to make the transition, typically the port is successful. And while the port of Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS has some notable features missing from the Wii U counterpart, the central experience fits right in your pocket.
At the core the purpose of Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS is to finally allow you to make the Super Mario course of your dreams. Almost any wild design you can think of can come true in the game and you can create a level which is a walk in the park to the hardest level imaginable. Want your cannons to shoot coins instead of Bullet Bill? You can do that. Want to have Bowser greet you at the start of the level? You can have Bowser, or two or three, anywhere you’d like.
The game features the same simple touch-screen controls and interactive tutorials as the Wii U game. You can sketch out your level on the touch screen and then test out the level right away on the top screen to see how it plays. Drag and drop different course elements including enemies, obstacles, blocks, and more. Right away half of the course elements are unlocked. The rest of the elements will be slowly unlocked as you make your way through the Super Mario Challenge, which is a sort of story mode of the game.
Some of the fun in designing the levels is that you can really mix it up with course design as well as enemies. Using familiar enemies in new ways, like putting land enemies under water or underwater enemies in the air, really makes for fun and interesting levels. You can also shake some of the course elements to change what they are and even combine some to create new ones. Dropping a super mushroom on an enemy can give you a larger foe to face.
And just like the Wii U version of the game, you can choose levels based on Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros U. Items you will have to choose from as well as Mario’s abilities change with the design chosen. For example in Super Mario Bros. Mario can’t pick up shells like he can in the other games. Also in NSMBU Mario can wall jump where he can’t in the other games. So you can create some levels that can’t be beaten in certain themes.
Imagine creating the exact same level in the different themes which required different skills to beat depending on the theme.
The major criticism from many about Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS is the one feature that wasn’t included in the title. That feature was the shining feature of the original Wii U version of the game and that is the ability to upload your level designs to the internet for everyone and anyone to play. In place of online sharing and playing is StreetPass. While you can’t directly search for courses online, you can set your favourite course to be shared automatically by StreetPass and also receive new courses from passersby.
You can also share the game via local wireless with any friends who also have the game.
While you can’t technically search online for levels to play, the 100 Mario Challenge feature does draw its levels from the Super Mario Maker server. Each time you connect to the internet new levels are automatically downloaded to the game, so the levels that you play in the 100 Mario Challenge come fresh from Wii U level creators.
It’s an interesting thing to note that if the 3DS version had been released first there would have been little complaints about the lack of online sharing of courses. Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS is a solid game from the standpoint of playability as well as creativity. I rather enjoyed Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS, however part of the fun is not only making levels but also sharing those levels. When you make a port of a game and remove features (online sharing, amiibo support) it’s hard to see passed what you don’t have in a game. Portability and sharability would have made this Mario soar.