Hands on: ‘Super Mario Maker’ for Nintendo 3DS

‘Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS’ seems great for players, less so for creators

Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS is a superb port, but losing the ability to share creations online may be a dealbreaker for die-hard level creators.

Super Mario Maker is a natural fit for the Nintendo 3DS. The short nature of its levels and free-form design mode lend themselves perfectly to playing in short bursts, dropping in and out of games on the go. Coming in December, Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS will bring make nearly everything from the original Wii U game portable, but the game’s few differences — namely that the game does not allow players to share their levels online — could make all the difference as to whether this portable version finds a place in fans’ collections.

In broad strokes, Mario Maker 3DS is the exact same game we loved when it came out last year. You can both play and create side-scrolling Mario levels, built from a toolkit of familiar elements collected from a few entries in the decades-old series. These can range from simple remixes of familiar tropes to more elaborate creations that push the boundaries of how the individual elements were conceived of for use, such as Rube Goldberg-style puzzle boxes or bullet hell dodging exercises.

The game’s inherently retro style still reads well on the handheld’s lower resolution.

Based on our time with the game, Mario Maker-made levels looked and played great on the New Nintendo 3DS, with no noticeable loss in quality from the platform change. The game’s inherently retro style — you can make levels with art from Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. — still reads perfectly well on the handheld’s lower resolution. The touch-sensitive lower screen with stylus worked very well when building a level in the game’s editor. We asked whether or not the game would perform differently on older 3DS models, but were not given a clear answer.

Almost all of the in-game elements from the original Super Mario Maker are present in this version, except for the Mystery Mushroom, which transform Mario into other notable Nintendo characters, such as Link from The Legend of Zelda. That means Amiibo support is gone as well. The Weird Mushroom, which transforms Mario into a lankier version of himself with Luigi’s jumping ability, remains.

3DS players will be able to download levels created in the Wii U version for the “100 Mario Challenge,” so long as they don’t include Mystery Mushrooms. The game also can’t search for levels by course ID.

Most importantly, 3DS players will also not be able to upload any levels created on the 3DS. Levels created on the 3DS can be shared with others, but only with other 3DS players via local wireless or StreetPass. Friends will be able to collaborate on levels by passing them back and forth via Local Play, though not simultaneously. This is a fun feature, replacing the global creators’ community of the Wii U version with more local, playground-focused social networking, though the lack of simultaneous editing raises the question of why the same effect couldn’t be equally well achieved by simply passing the 3DS itself back and forth, rather than sending the file locally.

Despite the local alternative, the diminished online functionality of Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS may be a dealbreaker for you, depending depends on what you want to get out of it. If you want a fun, portable, and replayable Mario fix, then it’s great. The 3DS version will launch with 100 exclusive levels designed by Nintendo staff, plus access to the lion’s share of fan-created content from online. If you want to focus on creating and sharing work with the game’s larger community, the 3DS version’s more limited support for sharing and taking advantage of the larger Mario Maker community may make it feel like a waste of time.

For established Mario level-makers, Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS may work best as a mobile supplement for playing with ideas on the go, rather than a straight replacement.

Highs

  • Same great game/editor on the go
  • Collaborate with friends via Local Play
  • 100 3DS-exclusive levels

Lows

  • No Mystery Mushrooms (or their levels)
  • Cannot share creations online
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