A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS is a port of the popular Super Mario Maker level-building game originally released for the Wii U in 2015. Players can build, play, and share custom Super Mario-inspired levels. Due to the custom nature of the stages, playing through levels could be extremely simple or near impossible. Also, since players share stages by StreetPass or local online without any moderation, parents should be aware that some custom stages could contain potentially offensive material. Violence can be somewhat constant, but the cartoonish nature of throwing fireballs or jumping on turtle shells without blood or gore limits the impact of the content.
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What's it about?
While most games have players navigating through a series of stages and challenges created by developers, SUPER MARIO MAKER FOR NINTENDO 3DS gives those players the tools and techniques to craft their own custom Super Mario Bros. levels to play and share with others. Interactive tutorials will teach players the ins and outs of creating their own levels to share with others by local connection or over StreetPass on the 3DS. Players can also test their own Mario skills in the Super Mario Challenge, where players try to navigate through 18 worlds to save Princess Peach, or the 100 Mario Challenge, where you're given 100 lives to navigate through some of the most creative levels crafted by other Super Mario Maker players.
Is it any good?
This adventure/level-design game hands players moments where they say to themselves, "I wonder if I could make something like this." Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS gives budding game designers the proverbial keys to the Mushroom Kingdom and answers, "Let's see what you've got." Easy-to-follow interactive tutorials walk players through the basics of using the game's vast toolbox. The design menu feels pretty intuitive, especially on the 3DS. Simply choose a game element on the touchscreen and tap wherever you want to place it in the game. You can even brainstorm with a few nearby friends over local wireless to collaborate on stages. However you decide to do it, Super Mario Maker does an amazing job of letting players craft all sorts of imaginative stages for Nintendo's plucky plumber and then share them with friends through StreetPass or local wireless.
While this is a great port of the original Wii U game, its trip to Nintendo's hand-held console didn't come without a few sacrifices. The obvious one is in screen size. Even on a 3DS XL, the real estate is much smaller than on the Wii U gamepad. While this can cause things to get a bit cramped, it's not really a major issue, only an occasional nuisance worth mentioning. The bigger omission is the removal of the "Mystery Mushroom" power-up. For those unfamiliar with the original game, players could scan in amiibo figures and create a special mushroom that disguised Mario as the amiibo in question. Sure, these "costumes" were simply cosmetic, but they encouraged players to build stages around specific themes. And yet, for some baffling reason, Nintendo decided to ditch the concept entirely on the 3DS version. You can't even earn costumes in the 100 Mario Challenge anymore, making that game mode less relevant as well. The other massive misstep is the removal of online sharing. In the original game, you could upload a level you'd worked hard to create to Nintendo's servers, then share a unique ID code so friends could search for and download your creation. On the 3DS, the only way to share stages is via local wireless or StreetPass, both of which require that you stumble across someone else in close vicinity with a 3DS handy. It's hard to come up with any rational reason for Nintendo to scrap these features in the 3DS port, and there's always a chance they could be reinstated in a future update. Despite these missing features, it's still hard not to recommend Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS. The game is still a blast to play, and it still packs in a lot of features that will encourage creativity and ingenuity in even the most casual gamer.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about video game design and development. Do games like Super Mario Maker inspire kids to learn more about how video games are created? What are some ways kids can learn more about game development and get involved in the development process?
Talk about creativity and sharing. How does it feel to play or to watch others play through a stage you built from scratch? How does viewing or playing other people's work inspire your future creations?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
- Price: $39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: December 2, 2016
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: E for Comic Mischief
- Last updated: December 2, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.