Nintendo has finally brought its Mario Maker series to the Switch, and I’m loving it. In Super Mario Maker 2, creation is still so easy that anyone can do it. And it’s so much fun to play through your friends’ levels — even if they are sometimes cruel and unethical.
But Super Mario Maker 2 (read the review) actually has a friends problem. The game seems to ignore the concept. It’s like it comes from a universe where the word “friends” does not exist. And that holds the overall experience back. If Nintendo plans to update the game at all, then it should focus on this problem first.
I hope Nintendo brings the Switch friends list into Super Mario Maker 2. That would make sense, and it would make every aspect of the game better.
For Super Mario Maker 2, Nintendo put a lot of emphasis on the leaderboards. You can end up on one for creating courses, one for competing in Endless Challenge, and one for versus mode. And for 99% of people, these leaderboards mean nothing.
I’m somewhere on these charts, but I don’t care to actually look. I know I’m nowhere near the top 1,000. And I don’t see much of a difference between ending up at spot 101,250 and 56,555. You know what would give these leaderboards some meaning? If I could compare myself to my friends. But that’s just not an option in Super Mario Maker 2.
You also can’t team up with friends for online cooperative or versus play. Nintendo said that it wants to protect the sanctity of the leaderboards, but it might change that. It seems more obvious to me now that Nintendo actually didn’t have plans for friend features in Super Mario Maker 2.
And while protecting leaderboards is fine, it shouldn’t do that at the expense of online multiplayer features. I want to race against my friends or work together with them to cooperative defeat another friend’s devious puzzle level.
I also need a friends list to solve the problem of finding courses. My friends make levels, but I don’t always get to try them. Sure, once you play someone’s stage, you can add them to a favorites list. That makes it easier to find their stuff in the future. But I’m not gonna go to every single person I know to ask if they have a level for me to play.
And these people are already my friends on the Nintendo Switch. I shouldn’t have to do any more work to easily see their content.
Ghosts and replays
Nintendo could also do a lot of cool extra stuff with a friends list. Instead of direct head-to-head multiplayer, an online ghost system would be awesome. I want to speedrun stages, but I’m not going to compete for the world record in most cases. But I am probably fast enough to beat my scrub friends. Let me play against a ghost of their best run in a level so I can watch myself beat them.
Same thing for replays. Let me watch my friends’ best runs by finding them on the leaderboard and clicking a play button. Ubisoft’s Trials has done this for years, and Nintendo should as well.
Super Mario Maker 2 is still great. I love it. But Nintendo can step up to make it even better.
It could use a bunch of features across the board, but it needs to start with friends. This game is already so social. You want to share your creations with friends, and then you want to hear what they say. It’s an unique experience that is more fun with people you know. Nintendo should capitalize on that and soon.