After Super Mario Maker 2 took around a thousand hours of my life from me after it released, I’ve had a soft spot for creators of any kind. The Nintendo Switch is the perfect place for them, with its touchscreen functionality and mouse support, and it’s only really the system’s technical limitations that can hold it back sometimes.

Obviously when eastasiasoft announced that they were bringing a game where you can create your own 3D Platforming levels, I was very interested. A little sceptical perhaps, as the price was less than five euros, but interested nevertheless.

Could this really be the 3D platformer creator that we’ve all been craving?

Many thanks to the publishers for the review code.

SUPER MASTER MAKER 3….D
The titular Master Maker is a young builder capable of double jumping and throwing a boomerang hammer. Despite having an adventure mode to play through, there’s no real plotline beyond that, as Master will traverse around the fifty stages searching for the flag at the end of each one. There are five biomes in total, but there are no bosses; and the game even abruptly throws you back to the start screen after finishing the final one, thus leaving the game ending with somewhat of an anti-climax. 

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It’s a little disappointing that they didn’t shoehorn in any kind of story, as there’s no real sense of progression as the game goes on. This extends too to the levels themselves. Whilst the biomes change every now and then, you’ll still face the same few enemy types and platforming challenges all the way through. A new obstacle may be introduced every now and then, but not all that frequently, and new stuff starts to stop appearing after around the halfway mark. In fact, that lack of a sense of advancement results in the adventure mode feeling more like a random showcase of level designs rather than a fully-fledged campaign. Even the difficulty fails to have any sense of progression, as one minute you could have a tricky level with no checkpoints, only to be met with a short and simple stage with the end-flag a mere stone’s throw away.

But that basic design doesn’t mean that the game isn’t enjoyable. It can take a little getting used to, as the default free camera tends to be wildly erratic and a bit annoying to control; however, switching to the alternate fixed camera not only allows for all the important things to stay in frame, but it also makes it much easier to pull off a lot of the platforming jumps too. 

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That does come at a bit of a cost though, as the better camera mode makes the game’s difficulty somewhat negligible for the most part. Being able to reliably move and land with precision makes everything a bit of a cinch – especially when combined with Maker’s double jump. Using this can send you both high and far, this enabling you to break most of the stages apart in some rather interesting ways. Thin fences can be landed on and walked across in order to bypass platforming sections, or perhaps a decorative tree in the middle of the ocean can be jumped on to help you reach a faraway island. Your imagination is the limit!

Even though it could be easy to criticise the game for failing to build stages around a core gameplay mechanic, I can’t deny that this also makes the game far more enjoyable as a result. No longer are you following the same standard platforming sections, as now you can think your way around problems. Now, everything becomes a platform as you try and see what you can land on and where you can reach. With the flag as your target, it’s now all about how fast you can get there. Your hammer is barely worth picking up, as even enemies can be used as makeshift platforms. The game feels a bit like a speed-runners puzzle, and I actually found that made me enjoy my time with the game.

Once you’re done with the ‘adventure’ mode, you’ll unlock an absolute ton of curated user-generated content for you to tackle. Whilst these stages don’t feel wildly different to the main game, it’s still a welcome addition for those looking for a bit more.

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Unfortunately the reason all these extra stages are so welcome, is that the level creator itself is the embodiment of failed potential. It’s mostly simple to use, even tough the interface is a little clunky and oftentimes unresponsive, but the main problem is that there’s absolutely no sharing functionality whatsoever. With the game not even supporting video capture or even screenshots, there’s no way to show off your creativity.

I could go into detail about how well the grid-based system and cubic environments work to ensure that users can easily put decent stages together without even needing a tutorial to guide them… but then, what would be the point? With no way to share and play stages, any work you put in is completely in vein. I really hope the developer can address this in a later patch, as I have no doubt that this will put off many people – but, as it stands, there’s no real reason to even bother with it. The cheap price and extensive number of single player levels does help alleviate that, but probably not enough for someone after a creation tool.

VERDICT
The lack of sharing functionality (of any kind) is a baffling omission for a game advertised as a creator. However, if you look past that, there’s a charming – if simple – 3D platformer that offers some solid entertainment for a very low price point. It’s hardly a masterpiece, with some clear level design issues, but I still found myself hooked to it until I had made it through all fifty levels.