Nintendo won't give us Zelda Maker, but the new indie release Super Dungeon Maker gets very, very close.
- Title: Super Dungeon Maker
- Release Date: May 3, 2023
- Price: $19.99
- Suggested Audience Age: Rated E for Everyone by the ESRB
- Availability: Switch (reviewed), Steam
- Recommended for fans of: Zelda Vibes, Maker Games, and Finding Your Own Fun
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.
Nintendo keeps pretending not to hear fans clamoring for a Zelda version of Mario Maker.
No, whatever silly nonsense they put in Link’s Awakening doesn’t count.
Thankfully, the folks at Rokaplay picked up that charge like Thanos, and today‘s release of Super Dungeon Maker sees them fulfilling their promise of “Fine, I’ll do it myself.”
The Adventure of Fink
Players step into the role of Fink, a chicken with a sword, who wakes up in a mysterious dungeon with a sword in hand. This opening serves as a tutorial for the dungeon-delving side of Super Dungeon Maker. While exploring dungeons with distinctly Hylian architecture, Fink will come across rooms full of enemies, locked doors, sliding block puzzles, boss encounters, and items and abilities that will help them progress.
Picking up bombs will let you blast through cracked walls. A mysterious feather gives Fink the ability to roll to avoid enemy attacks and cross dangerous pits. The shield can block incoming projectiles or attacks and can knock enemies off balance with precise timing. There’s also a hook shot… You know, like in Zelda!
All of these pickups are per dungeon, though. There is no ongoing progression in Super Dungeon Maker.
The basic toolkit for the player character in Super Dungeon Maker is completely devoid of surprises. This game gives you the most basic set of abilities that are almost directly copy/pasted from A Link to the Past, and that’s fine. This isn’t a game about pushing the equipment aspect of Zelda forward. Like Mario Maker, the goal is instead to give players a basic and familiar set of verbs, and then set them loose in fan-made encounters to see the creativity on that side of things shine.
The creation suite in Super Dungeon Maker is expansive and surprisingly intuitive. The only elements that are required in a dungeon are a starting door, where Fink will enter with his sword and no other gear, and the golden egg he has to grab to complete the adventure. Starting up the creator mode gives you a tiny room with those two elements, and from there you can build out to create a unique adventure.
Creators can add walls, doors, locks, switches, enemies, treasure chests, items, pits, stairs, and boss encounters. You can create an ambiance with torches and tall grass and jars. You can create a series of tough fights for a combat gauntlet or a sprawling maze full of puzzles and traps. One creator built a mini golf-themed dungeon that you traverse with a series of “slide a block across sheets of ice to press a switch” puzzles!
Like Mario Maker, Super Dungeon Maker is a game that entirely depends on the quality of the community. The basic gameplay is fine, if unexceptional, and the few bespoke dungeons that are included with the game are the same. There’s no long, developing offline mode like in Super Mario Maker 2, so players will be dependent on user-created dungeons almost immediately.
It’s hard to review a game that is so entirely creator-focused without knowing how many user creations there will be. Thankfully, the Switch release is launching with a huge batch of creations ready and waiting, thanks to dungeons built on Steam transitioning straight over. Throw in creations being ranked by both how many plays they’ve had and how many finished playthroughs resulted in a “like”, and it’s pretty easy to find a dungeon to jump into and explore.
This game is fun, if a bit thin. I know I’ll spend more time with it as is, but I’m already thinking about how the game could become an absolute knockout if future updates added in some sort of progression or story or some sort of hook for players more focused on playing than creating.