Image courtesy of Nintendo
One of the more popular (and hardest) levels in Super Mario Maker 2, a goofy low-gravity stage called Pile of Poo: Kai-Zero G by noted streamer GrandPOObear, has been deleted and can no longer be played, its creator revealed this morning. Nintendo said the level was taken down for “inappropriate and/or harmful content,” according to an email he shared.“It contained no inappropriate words, pictures ect [sic],” said GrandPOObear on Twitter. “It contained no glitches.”
Nintendo has not yet responded to my request for comment, but in an email sent to GrandPOObear, Nintendo called this a “final decision” and threatened that if “violations continue,” it could restrict his ability to play online. It then thanked him for “creating an enjoyable online environment.”His maker name (and the level series his stage was published under) includes the word “poo,” but GrandPOObear claims to have been told Nintendo has no problem with the word.It’s possible there was a blip in the system that handles these cases—we don’t know if it’s automated, handled by humans, or a combination of the two—or if Nintendo is trying to send a message to the community, even if it’s one that contradicts their own previous positions.Kai-Zero G is, however, a “kaizo” stage, which means it’s relying on players resorting to extreme mechanical tactics in order to survive, the kinds of levels Nintendo does not put in their own games, but have proven to be hugely popular among streamers, the very people who keep games like Mario Maker 2 alive and relevant long after Nintendo itself moves on.“I am at a loss for words and extremely sad about this,” said GrandPOObear. “I feel Nintendo just doesn’t want me making levels, or even playing their games at this point.”The levels GrandPOObear made to teach people how to do kaizo tricks remain online for now.This is not the first time GrandPOObear has found himself within Nintendo’s crosshairs. In 2016, Nintendo deleted every one of GrandPOObear’s stages from the original Mario Maker. He streamed a conversation with a Nintendo customer support representative, who admitted they didn’t “see that you’ve been flagged for anything regarding cheating or whatnot” and couldn’t come up with an explanation, beyond punting GrandPOObear to someone else.
He was eventually able to re-upload his deleted levels, but it was a long and drawn out process, one that didn’t include many transparent explanations from Nintendo about what happened.This was part of a larger pattern of Nintendo deleting levels without prejudice, creating a deep sense of mistrust between Nintendo and the very community was trying to cultivate. It’s not just “hard” levels that Nintendo was deleting, either, it was levels made by kids simply because they hadn’t been played very much. When policies meant to create an “enjoyable online environment” result the deletion of a level made by a 7-year-old, something’s wrong.GrandPOObear’s not the only person who’s claiming Nintendo has returned to deleting stages. On reddit, a creator made a level inspired by the increasingly absurd “storm Area 51” meme, a stage that was genuinely cool and hilarious, but which Nintendo also determined to have “inappropriate or harmful content. It’s gone."I've never had a popular course before," said the creator, "and it was fun reading the comments and seeing so many people enjoy it."When I reviewed Mario Maker 2, I said Nintendo got the easy part right—it took a brilliant game and made it better—but the story of Mario Maker 2 wouldn’t be told until we found out whether Nintendo had learned any lessons about how to manage a community. At the moment, things aren’t looking good; GrandPOObear is reconsidering whether to continue to stake his livelihood on a game from a company constantly telling him he’s doing it wrong.“Honestly, I’m just sad, man,” he told me this morning. “This sounds stupid, but the biggest moments in my life have revolves around Zelda and Mario. I’ve dedicated my entire life to beating the silliest hardest Mario levels around. I have three Nintendo tattoos. Like, there isn’t a bigger fan than me, and if I played any other game made by any other company, I would at least get an answer on why this happened. But with Nintendo they try to do everything to get me to stop playing their games. I know they aren’t required to reciprocate the love, but it would be nice if they at least acknowledged the community and the fact that we exist.”So far, Nintendo remains silent. The company’s past suggests it’ll stay that way.Follow Patrick on Twitter. If you've noticed anything interesting happening in Mario Maker, reach out at email@example.com. He's also available privately on Signal. Mario Maker Mornings will return.