Nintendo's port of Super Mario Maker is a great distraction for those that missed out on the Wii U installment, but it is lacking when compared to the console iteration.
Upon the announcement of Super Mario Mario For Nintendo 3DS, many gamers were left dumbfounded. There's little question that the critically-acclaimed, Super Mario-themed level creator made portable was an enticing prospect, but it was what Nintendo had to sacrifice to get the title running optimally on the underpowered 3DS that had fans concerned. Now that the game is here, it's easy to see that a number of their concerns were valid, but the joy of level creation on the go is just as much fun as gamers would expect.
To cut right to the biggest issue present in this game, the major changeup that has a number of fans up in arms is the complete lack of online in Super Mario Maker For Nintendo 3DS. As one of the largest reasons why gamers kept playing the title after release, the inability to trek through user-created levels or upload their own chaotic masterpieces are major drawbacks. Indeed, it's obvious by the omission of these features that the 3DS iteration will never be the de facto version of Super Mario Maker – but it's far from all bad.
One of the best parts about bringing the game to handhelds is having a wide array of level-building tools on the go. Doused in flavors from four different eras of the beloved Super Mario platforming series, gamers will be hard-pressed to be upset with the tools at their disposal. In fact, all of the creation assets from the Wii U version have made the transition over to this portable entry, with the exception of the Mystery Mushroom. As one of the more engaging fan services from the original, the Mystery Mushroom allowed players to suit up as a myriad of different pixelated mascots such as Link, Pikachu, and even Sonic the Hedgehog. It's a noticeable absence, but it's far from a deal breaker.
Since the focus of this Super Mario Maker is so heavily based on creating rather than sharing, it's nice to note that the tutorials have been completely revamped in order to provide a more thorough understanding of how to make a worthwhile area. These lessons are provided by the surprisingly entertaining duo of a pigeon named Yamamura and his assistant Mary O, both of which ease the process of learning how to use the game's tools through comedic dialogue. The various tips and tutorials in place are also a lot more hands-on, and players will be left with a greater sense of how to tackle their dream levels as a result.
While the knowledge required to build stages is really only a few lessons away, those that just want to play some absurdly challenging levels will be able to scratch that itch through the 'Super Mario Challenge' mode. Featuring a total of 88 levels to trek through, there's something of a trademark Mario Maker approach to the way these areas have been built. If new stages weren't enough of an incentive, Nintendo has ensured that players will have to experience this campaign of sorts in order to earn pieces of the level builder that are locked away behind different sections of this platforming venture.
Meanwhile, those that find themselves mastering each sector can opt to engage in challenges (of which there are two per level) to earn medals. These medals are necessary for anyone hoping to test their mettle in the final 12 areas featured within 'Super Mario Challenge', but they also serve as a reason to go back and keeping playing. Completionists are sure to get some bang for their buck in this sense, as the medal requirements are some of the most challenging and unique aspects of the game. Even then, it's hard not to get sucked into the challenge found throughout (i.e., complete a level without hitting Left on the D-Pad or the ever-entertaining 'reach the goal as Weird Mario').
When stacked up to the Wii U version, there's little doubt that Super Mario Maker For Nintendo 3DS is the lesser of the two – and it doesn't even support 3D on the notoriously 3D-enabled handheld. The lack of online sharing is only made more baffling by the fact that apparent user-made levels from the Wii U iteration can be accessed through the '100 Mario Challenge' mode, while the exclusion of Mystery Mushrooms also makes little to no sense given how prominent amiibo support on the portable is nowadays. Still, there is a ton of fun to be had for anyone that has yet to experience the level-building phenomenon known as Mario Maker, and those that have will be able to refine their mastery of the tools featured within the game.
Super Mario Maker For Nintendo 3DS is available on December 2, 2016.
Nintendo provided Game Rant with a physical copy of Super Mario Maker For Nintendo 3DS for review purposes.