'Super Mario Maker' 3DS Review Roundup: Lack of online features hold it back


A version of Super Mario Maker for Nintendo's handheld console will be available starting Dec. 2. So it's time to do your research and decide whether it's worth your hard-earned cash. 

Just like the Wii U version of Super Mario Maker that came out in 2015, the 3DS version offers players a slick set of tools to build their very own Super Mario courses, but one giant caveat has been noted in nearly every review. The 3DS version has an extremely limited online functionality, meaning the ability to share and play courses with players all over the world is nearly impossible.

Here's what critics have had to say about the game so far.

Super Mario Maker 3DS Review: Wonderful tools for creating stages

In Jose Otero's review of Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS for IGN, he praised the toolkit available to players in the 3DS version. He noted that even though there are slightly fewer level-building features than the Wii U version, it doesn't feel inferior or watered down. Here's a quick excerpt of his comments:

Just like in the amazing Wii U version, the easy-to-use tools of Super Mario Maker for 3DS empower you to create vibrant, challenging or creative levels using the look and feel of several generations of 2D Super Mario games with relative ease, except now you can do it on the go! And the way it quickly switches between create and play is easily the best part of the experience. 

In his review for Wired, Chris Kohler made similar comments, saying that the level building tools in the 3DS version of Super Mario Maker are just as easy to use as the Wii U version, though the smaller 3DS screen occasionally makes things feel "cramped."

The 3DS version works just as well [as the Wii U's]. While the touch screen on even the XL model of 3DS is a bit cramped compared to Wii U's, it's still quite easy to draw and drag elements around. You can't use the "Mystery Mushroom" from the Wii U version that allowed you to alter Mario's appearance to that of other Nintendo characters, but otherwise all of the different course elements are here for you to make levels that range from simple to ridiculously complicated, with hidden keys, locked doors, mid-level checkpoints, boss fights, etc.

Super Mario Maker 3DS Review: Massive collection of new Mario levels to play

In addition to giving players a set of tools to build their own Super Mario levels, Super Mario Maker also comes loaded with tons of pre-made levels to play through. Otero seemed to really enjoy this particular feature, saying that they were fun to play and also served as a source of inspiration when he was designing levels from scratch:

The best ones demonstrate the numerous possibilities Super Mario Maker offers, from platform walkways filled with deadly dangling Chain Chomps to the Voltron of Mario villains (a tower of enemies that includes a giant Wiggler, giant Bowser, giant Bowser Jr. and a Bull's Eye Bill) that takes pot shots at you as you try to reach the end of the stage. It serves as a great means of inspiration for when you decide to start building your own.

Kohler seemed less enchanted with these packed in levels, calling them only "somewhat interesting" tutorials:

As with the Wii U version, you begin with only a limited set of simple tools, which aren't even enough to recreate the first level of the first Super Mario. In the home console version, "deliveries" of new items would arrive on a regular schedule as you played with the editor. The 3DS version doles them out in a different way: They're unlocked as you play through 100 different pre-made levels created by Nintendo. While these are somewhat interesting in and of themselves, they mostly function as an hours-long tutorial in course-making, introducing new items that you don't have yet and showing you a variety of ways that they could be used.

Super Mario Maker 3DS Review: Lack of online features are a major letdown

Of course, the major letdown critics have cited in the Nintendo 3DS version of Super Mario Maker is that the tools for sharing your levels with other players are nearly nonexistent. The only way to share levels is over a local connection or through StreetPass, which shares levels with other nearby 3DS owners who have StreetPass enabled.

In addition to some other weird design decisions on the 3DS version, Otero said the lack of online functionality "sapped" his inspiration to design levels.

[You can] share stages with someone locally or through StreetPass, which is a neat way to pass stages to friends or complete strangers you meet. But, if you're in an area without a lot of fellow 3DS players, you're out of luck, since Nintendo chose not to include the ability to share stages online, even using Wii U level codes. There is no way to play a specific level that was designed by you or your friend on a Wii U, or to send your 3DS-made level to them.

Kohler had similar gripes in his review:

I can't imagine spending very much time on levels that practically no one will ever be able to play. And from the looks of things, I don't even think Nintendo imagines this is the case either. Looking at the marketing materials for the 3DS version, it's clear that the company is trying to position it first as a gateway to a vast library of Mario courses that you can play whenever you like, and only secondarily as a game-making utility.

More Nintendo 3DS news, guides, tips and tricks from Mic:

For more news on 3DS titles, check out the latest from Mic, like information about preloading Super Mario Maker for 3DS, a guide to assembling a flawless lineup in Pokémon Sun and Moon, how to check your Pokémon's stats in Sun and Moon and how to catch the cute and creepy Mimikyu in Sun and Moon.