There’s no hiding Super Dungeon Maker’s intentions to be the Zelda equivalent of Super Mario Maker, but then again there’s never any attempt to hide it. From the first moment you’re dumped into a top-down dungeon with a sword, swiping at bad guys, flinging clay pots around and hunting for keys, you’ll feel that Zelda-esque dungeon nostalgia from Link’s earlier games, and even when you’re trying to put your own levels together or play those crafted by infinitely more talented builders than yourself (maybe that’s just me…) you never feel too far away from the obvious source material.
Despite this being called Super Dungeon Maker, I’ve spent the majority of my time playing through a wide range of levels provided by the game itself and the many people around the world who seem to be able to come up with some fantastic dungeon adventures. You have a small village to wander around in, finding the provided dungeons to have a go at beating and meeting the various NPCs, but there are two buildings that you’ll be going back to time and time again, depending on whether you’re in the mood to be creative or just torture yourself with some really intense challenges.
Stepping into the Online Levels building takes you to some screens allowing you to search through community levels created by regular gamers who have managed to nail the dungeon making tools. Mileage will vary considerably, but there are some incredible efforts which can be easily found by flicking across to the tab showing the top levels, as well as a few hidden gems by looking into the latest published dungeons. If you’ve always enjoyed this kind of dungeon-based puzzle solving then you’ll have a great time, you’ll certainly be hard-pushed to run out of things to do.
And if you either manage to get through everything the world has to offer you, you can go to the main reason for this game existing: to build you own dungeons. The building tools take some getting used to, but are intuitive enough once you’ve put your first dungeon together. Turning them into fun, challenging levels is a whole other ball game though, one that I never really managed to master. It’s a bit like building a really cool base in No Man’s Sky, or carving out a beautiful cave in Minecraft… some people just have the ability, skill and patience to pull it off and put something together that just amazes you. That’s where I found myself with creating my own dungeons. I could see what I had to do, and I had the ideas, but I need to put in several hours more practice to be able to translate that into something worth sending out into the wider world!
On the whole, as a dungeon maker and player, this is a really decent package. It would be nice to see a bit more branching away from the stereotypical Zelda components and have some more individualism, but considering this is designed to be a Zelda-like experience, you can understand why that didn’t happen. It can also be a bit tricky to judge some of the movement in the game, especially zipping across small gaps and attacking enemies; again they’re not enormous issues, but just a couple of things that might be tightened up a bit.
If, though, you like the old-style Zelda dungeons and really fancy trying your hand and making a few levels, or just want an almost endless supply of dungeons to run through, this could be just up your alley.
Reviewed on Switch