Super Dungeon Maker: Early Access (Review)

Mar 25, 2022

Super Dungeon Maker is for everyone who played Nintendo’s Mario Maker and wished for a Legend of Zelda maker. Created by Firechick, Super Dungeon Maker equips players with the tools needed to make their own Zelda-like dungeons. Full of potential and creativity, Super Dungeon Maker is in early access on Steam with weekly updates and additions.

Developed by: Firechick
Published by: Rokaplay
Released: February 15, 2022 (PC Early Access)

Chicken Zelda

Instead of a young hero clad in green, Super Dungeon Maker‘s hero is a young rooster clad in overalls. Outside of this character change, the gameplay is a direct lineage and homage to top-down Legend of Zelda. Players move through dungeons battling enemies, solving puzzles, and obtaining power-ups. The enemies have Zelda equivalents and similar attack patterns that provide both nostalgia and new adventures. The graphics are charming and feel like a natural extension of the Minish Cap art style. This familiarity with characters and design results in mechanics that are easy to understand. But the player created dungeons can quickly become devilishly challenging fresh experiences.

Make Your Own Adventure

The new adventures come through player created content. Since launching in early access in February, Super Dungeon Maker continued to add new content including movable blocks and switches. Consequently, the steady stream of creation tools created deeper and more complex maps and dungeons than available at release. Furthermore, with over 1300 user-made maps, Super Dungeon Maker provides a wide range of Legend of Zelda like exploration and puzzles.

Like any player created content, the maps vary in quality and scope. Some dungeons are combat challenges. Others maps contain puzzles that beg for a guide or walkthroughs. The best take design inspiration from the Legend of Zelda by introducing puzzles and abilities and slowly layering from room to room and level to level. These larger, cohesive experiences demonstrate the capacity Super Dungeon Maker holds.

Unfortunately, without any progression between created dungeons, it is easy to bail and quit out when frustration sinks in. However, just like in Mario Maker, each dungeon needs to be able to be completed by the creator before it can be uploaded and shared. This requirement creates an intrinsic level of challenge and eventual satisfaction since every stage can be beaten. Even the most obtuse ones. While the interface is clean and straightforward, additional tool tips and popup labels would make creation more user friendly.

Sharing With the World

Developer Firechick has provided an internal rating system for the user created maps. There are tabs for current hot downloads and most downloaded. Ideally, Firechick will add in some type of tags or categories to allow users to sort for the type of experiences they are seeking. The toolset is easy to use and test out. Building functional dungeons did take some practice, but there is an inherent satisfaction in creating and sharing content. Fortunately, Super Dungeon Maker also includes some introductory tutorials through the in-game sandbox that explain the process of creating. These tutorials are a solid start, but the Discord community and YouTube videos significantly add to the understanding of creating successful maps and levels.

Promising Launch With Adventures to Come

Creating good content is a time investment, but the same is true for Mario Maker and Minecraft. Consuming levels is easy and enjoyable. Creating levels adds a whole different layer of enjoyment for those willing to learn. The weekly updates provide a reason to keep learning and exploring what others create. Each new week has added deeper mechanics that allow users to build their dream Legend of Zelda dungeons. Sure, sometimes those dreams are really nightmare puzzles. However, Super Dungeon Maker is filled with potential adventures for creators and consumers alike. At $14.99 and a planned Switch port, there are legends still to be written for this little hero.

Score: 7.9

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