Reviews// Super Mario Maker 3DS

Posted 26 Jan 2017 14:10 by
The Wii U's twilight years were filled with a number of really excellent games. Unfortunately, because of the low user base most of these games have reached a rather small audience. This is a shame as titles like Hyrule Warriors, Yoshi's Woolly World and Super Mario Maker really deserved to be played by a wider audience.

Fortunately Nintendo's other hardware platform, the 3DS, has done rather better than the Wii U. Consequently, Nintendo has begun to re-release these games on the handheld. The first of these, Hyrule Warriors, received a rather mixed reception. Whilst the game worked reasonably well on the 'New' 3DS, the original hardware struggled, rendering some parts of the game borderline unplayable. Ports to the 3DS consequently always leave me feeling a little apprehensive.

For all its faults, many games released on the Wii U really did look impressive, largely because of the heavily stylised approach taken to art design. Recently the 3DS has really begun to show its age, something that Hyrule Warriors certainly highlighted. Nintendo's most recent attempt at porting a later-stage Wii U game perhaps makes more sense.

Mario Maker was released on the Wii U for the 30th Anniversary of the Super Mario series. The game has given me and my family hours of fun, largely because of level creation, but also because of the ability to download an almost endless supply of new levels. For a while, my daughter was playing the game almost daily. She would create her own 'masterpieces,' force me to play them and then download new levels at random from Nintendo's course sharing service.

Although her interest began to wane after a couple of months, she still goes back to the game from time to time, despite losing the stylus for our Wii U. The game itself is excellent, with incredibly easy-to-use level creation tools, but also enough pre-made levels by Nintendo to make it feel almost like a full release. Visually the game was reasonably impressive, but hardly anything special. Consequently, a release of the game on the 3DS would seem to be a very good idea, at least until the usual caveats began to be revealed.

Visually, Mario Maker works extremely well on the 3DS, although it does look a little washed out in comparison to the Wii U version. Although sprites do appear to be a little on the small side, I never found the game uncomfortable to play.

Unfortunately, it does not take advantage of the machine's 3D capability. I was rather disappointed by this as with the 'New' 3DS hardware I have found this feature really adds a great deal to immersion in games. Perhaps the reception to 3D in Hyrule Warriors and the performance problems it created led Nintendo to take a more cautious approach to Mario Maker. This is a shame as the 2D sprites and parallax scrolling would, I'd imagine, look great in 3D. As it stands, the game runs perfectly, I never experienced any slow-down or any other performance problems. Controlling Mario is just as perfect as the Wii U version, although level creation feels significantly more fiddly on the smaller 3DS screen. I have to point out that I have been using the standard 'New' 3DS and not the XL. Perhaps playing on the XL improves on this.

The game takes the same approach as the Wii U version regarding the unlocking of materials for creating levels. It gives you new pieces at a slow pace, largely to encourage the player to truly master using the pieces he or she begins with.

Pieces can also be unlocked in the other significant addition to the game, the 'Super Mario Challenge.' This has been expanded from the original version on the Wii U. Instead of a limited number of seemingly random courses to traverse, the 3DS version provides the player with 18 'worlds' of new Nintendo-designed levels. Once courses in this mode have been cleared they are also added to the 'Coursebot' so players can pick them apart, redesign them or use them to inspire
new levels. The prospect of playing close to one hundred new professionally designed levels is pretty exciting.

However, the reality is not quite what I had hoped. Whilst there are a number of excellently designed and extremely engaging levels within the Mario Challenge, many of them, particularly at the start, are designed purely to explain game mechanics to new players. This meant that I only began to feel that I was taking part in a real challenge when I got to World 17. Earlier levels are extremely imaginative and inspirational, but for the player who really just wants to play something akin to more recent New Super Mario Bros games or even older entries in the series, they are a little disappointing. That being said, the final level of the game is excellent and I greatly enjoyed trying to beat it.
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