My first reaction to the news that Super Mario Maker was on
its way to the 3DS was pure jubilation. One of my favorite games of the
past several years is bringing its awesome set of stage-creation tools to the portable
Nintendo 3DS handheld system. I could create the Mario stages in my head just
as I did last year on the Wii U, but now I could do it on the go.
Unfortunately, the more I learned about the 3DS version of Super Mario Maker,
the less enthused I became.
Perhaps the biggest letdown for this portable version is
that the sharing has been refocused to only allow for players to show off their
creations locally. This means if you create the perfect stage, you have no
way of uploading it for others online. While it’s great that you can now give
your stage to someone locally without having to use the long Course ID,
Nintendo has removed the coolest part about Super Mario Maker: sharing your
creation with the world.
By limiting your ability to share your stage, Nintendo has
not only removed a huge incentive to get your stage just right, it has
completely stripped the rewarding ability to play the creations of others
from those who aren’t geographically located near their friends. It also
removes communities of people online from curating a list of the courses
created using the tools. While this certainly removes the headaches and
confusion associated with Nintendo’s policy on deleting your creations, it
removes perhaps the best feature of the game.
To make up for this, Nintendo is allowing players to access
courses created in the Wii U version, but some stages aren’t compatible. In
addition, there’s no way to search for a specific course on the 3DS version,
meaning you need to rely on the random algorithm of modes like the
100-Mario Challenge or “Recommended Courses” to deliver you content from the
online portion. This is a shame, as even if I can’t share my 3DS creations, I
have several friends who have created amazing levels on the Wii U version, and
I’d jump at the opportunity to play those when I travel.
Another huge blow came when I learned the Mystery
Mushroom, the power-up that lets you disguise Mario as different characters in
levels themed after the original Super Mario Bros., is excluded from this
I loved taking my Amiibo figures and unlocking these
costumes – so much so that it became the game I used my Amiibos for the most. I
also reveled in the creativity that could come with clever use of these
costumes. Perhaps my favorite level I ever created in the Wii U version is called “Gotta Go Fast!” and features Mario dressed as Sonic running speedily
across supercharged treadmills, in a stage that relies more on reflexes than anything
While that level can be recreated without the Sonic
costume, other concepts I’ve had for courses aren’t so easily replicated.
Another one of my favorites involves exploring a cave to discover different
costumes. It isn’t a challenging course, but the fun comes in the surprise of
which Amiibo costume pops out next. When you grab the Mystery Mushroom, it
delivers that same rush that comes with opening a sealed pack of collectible
cards. You don’t know what’s waiting for you on the other side, and that’s most
of the fun. With this power-up gone, the intrigue that came with playing a
stage themed after the original Super Mario Bros. that someone else made is
I understand that technical limitations are likely to blame
for these exclusions, and I’d much rather have the version we’re getting than
no Super Mario Maker on 3DS at all, but I know that these missing features
could be a big deal for a lot of players who are excited for this release. I’m
still anticipating being able to create Mario courses wherever I’m able to pop
open my 3DS (I also love the addition of side-objectives to earn medals and
being able to collaborate with friends on incomplete courses), but these
missing features have caused some of my enthusiasm to dissipate.