Fans have always dreamed of the ability to create and share Super Mario levels. Last year’s Super Mario Maker made that dream a reality. The game was a success both critically and commercially (in Wii U terms), becoming a big enough hit that Nintendo is now porting the creative suite to the 3DS. Sadly, the new version is a desperate and unnecessary product from a rebuilding company. Super Mario Maker 3DS lacks certain features that make the game distinct, and any advantages over its predecessor will be rendered useless by an inevitable Switch version.
That’s not to say that Super Mario Maker 3DS is a bad game, because it’s not. For starters, the handheld version comes packed with 100 built-in levels, most of which are outlandish, exaggerated takes on the somewhat tired 2D platformer formula. Additionally, the game has all the robustness of its predecessor’s “Make” mode, aside from the Mystery Mushroom item. It’s the same Mario Maker, as long as you’re creating levels.
Yet despite everything that Mario Maker 3DS does right, there are major issues looming over its metaphorical hardhat. The inconveniences add up, and when the novelty wears off, the experience starts to feel incomplete.
The biggest downfall is its lack of online features. Currently, the only way to share a finished level is through StreetPass and local wireless, which is an inexcusable oversight on Nintendo’s end. Most of the game’s charm comes from seeing the work of brilliant artists (I’ll call them artists because level design can be a thing of beauty) as you search the server looking for the funniest or most eccentric levels and braving the challenges within. That’s not possible with the 3DS version of Mario Maker, even when connected to WiFi. Instead, Nintendo is forcing players to share only with those in their immediate vicinity, eliminating an essential, larger online element of the game.
Of course, the original Super Mario Maker is a whimsical game on a dying platform (one that may be already dead, following rumours that Wii U production had ceased). The lame 3DS version could be a direct result of the console situation. Nintendo has abandoned the Wii U and is shifting its focus towards the Switch, which leaves a release gap for the holiday season. Mario Maker 3DS is a lower polish version of a game people have already played, but it’ll still be easier to find than the NES Classic Edition.
Mario Maker 3DS does make the game available to those who may not have purchased a Wii U, but it’s a terrible investment given the excitement over the Nintendo Switch. Over 21 million people have watched the announcement trailer on Nintendo’s main channel alone, and Mario Maker’s versatile software will be a natural fit for the home/handheld hybrid console. Anyone who believes the game won’t be getting another re-release is in utter denial. The future iteration be portable and more impressive graphically, so skipping Super Mario Maker 3DS and waiting on the Switch version is a no-brainer decision.
Had the original Super Mario Maker never been released, the 3DS version would be more appealing because it would be a tease for what’s to come. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality of the situation. The game removes unique features from a previously released version and will be outdone by another iteration within a couple of years. Super Mario Maker 3DS is a decent game on its own, but that does not change the fact that it is an unnecessary release.