Super Mario Maker 2’s latest update reveals that almost no one knows how to make a fun Mario stage. This was once easy to ignore, because that’s not actually what you should go to Super Mario Maker for. Instead, this series has always provided players with a familiar canvas upon which they could paint their silliest ideas. But that doesn’t work in the context of the game’s newest update.
Earlier this week, Nintendo introduced World Maker, which enables players to build a full, 40-level Mario game. You can design the map with shortcuts, bonus stages, and more. And then you need to populate these maps with your own courses. Once you string some worlds together, you can publish them as a Super World that acts basically like a new 2D Mario.
Only one problem: Your Super World stinks.
Prior to this update, playing Super Mario Maker 2 meant trawling through a lot of bad creations. But that was fine. The content was throwaway, and if you encountered something boring or needlessly complex, you could skip it.
But World Maker is the antithesis of that throwaway style of Mario. You’re getting dozens of courses from the same person, and this highlights just how careless most people are when creating their stages. Pacing, rhythm, and progression just don’t exist. And if these design considerations are rare within stages themselves, they tend to be absent from one course to the next.
John Cusack’s rules for building a Super Mario Maker 2 Super World
It turns out that putting together a competent Mario game, like building a mixtape, has a lot of rules.
You’ve got to start high, then go higher, and then you need to shift gears into something completely different. And that’s just the first three courses. The point is that putting together something cohesive requires a lot of work and a lot of consideration, and most people just aren’t going to do that.
So that means nearly all Super Worlds you come across are going to feel haphazard. Of course most people aren’t as good as Nintendo at making Mario, but that’s not really what I’m asking from creators. I just want a sign that you thought about another human being actually sitting down to play your stages.
Super Mario Maker 2 never encouraged that kind of empathy with the player before, and I defended that. The game was about inflicting almost cruel designs on our friends, families, and followers. That’s a lot of fun one stage at a time. But it’s zero fun as a string of levels with no overarching guidance or flow, and it’s probably going to prevent me from playing around in Super World mode.
Maybe I’ll just have to make one myself.