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Opinion – Nintendo Neutered The Super Mario Maker Experience For 3DS

by Brian Shea on Sep 01, 2016 at 10:52 AM

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 version.

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 else.

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 also gone.

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.