There’s a phrase that I use quite frequently, and often in hyperbole: ‘It does what it says on the tin.’ It might not say what it does, nor even come in a tin, but I think it’s a damned useful phrase. Sometimes, you have to say that something’s self-explanatory and you just have to sound like a pretentious bastard while you’re at it. Being this site’s resident pretentious bastard, it’s my duty to come across as annoyingly as I can.
Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS does what it says on the tin, and a whole lot less.
For those who came in late or haven’t watched anything gaming-related on the Internet since the Dark Ages where Angry Video Game Nerd ripoffs were the hip and/or new thing, Super Mario Maker is a title for the Wii U that allows you to create your own Super Mario levels and share them with the world or your now-mediocre YouTube show for over a hundred goddamn episodes. The game quickly became the Wii U’s must-have title, for anybody who still used theirs in 2015. Naturally, it sold very well and with Nintendo’s 3DS console is reaching the end of its lifespan (presumably), what better way to get a whole heap of cash from your userbase than rehashing a game? But wait, you say, a large variety of features scare me! Well, fear not: Super Mario Maker 3DS has even less features than its home console counterpart, even removing its most popular feature! Joy of joys!
In this version, courses are shared via local wireless or Streetpass. Nintendo’s direction is clear, and it’s actually somewhat understandable. The 3DS has always been a much more social platform than its home console sisters, just like all portable consoles before it. The removal of online sharing, however, can’t be written off in a game like Super Mario Maker. Being able to share your courses with the world was by far the most popular extra feature latched onto what was already a very fun game, and seeing this feature removed is saddening and frustrating. Maybe it’s because the 3DS has less storage space on average than the Wii U. Maybe it’s because Nintendo’s online services are still woefully behind its (albeit hack-prone) competitors…I dunno. It’s just sad.
*insert generic joke about frequent kidnapping here*
At least the lives trick still works.
The new ‘Super Mario Challenge’ mode is Nintendo’s attempt to circumvent this drawback, with custom-made levels from Nintendo’s own designers with decades of experience being the bread and butter of the Challenge. This mode is actually very fun, with each level being a completely different undertaking. It also offers additional challenges that grant you special badges, and shows off each level’s honestly brilliant design. Unfortunately, users don’t have access to these new tools. That’s a fitting summary of this port, actually: you could have these features, but you can’t.
But when you do make a level of your own, the magic’s still there. The touchscreen is a bit cramped, but otherwise it’s the same game you knew and loved on the Wii U. If you have an almost autistic devotion to the game, then this port will do everything you need it to…except for online sharing. Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS is epitomised by this endless cycle: you’re having fun building a great stage, then you remember that you have nobody to share it with. So you try another mode, get hit with inspiration, and have fun making a great stage. But then…
What made Super Mario Maker on the Wii U so very special is lost in this 3DS port. While the portability is great for the obsessed, and the Super Mario Challenge is a pretty good game on its own, this port is ultimately a lost opportunity.