This article originally appeared on VICE US.
Super Mario Maker 2 has been on life support for a few months, with Nintendo having more or less ignored their creation sequel since it launched in June. Besides an update adding multiplayer features that should have been there at launch, nada. No way to share levels, despite a very much still alive bookmarking website for the original. No new items. No quality of life changes, like the ability to skip repetitive death sequences. And yet, it was hard to imagine Nintendo would never revisit Mario Maker 2, making it increasingly likely the game would, eventually, get one enormous update. And that’s what’s happening this Thursday.
There’s still no way to share levels, but Nintendo calling this a “2.0” update makes a lot of sense; it’s massive. The new items, especially the P Block that can temporarily summon new platforms, are the jolt of energy this community has needed for months now. The speedrun mode, where players can race against ghosts on Nintendo-created levels, is a great idea that’s hopefully a step towards ghosts in every level. But the most important addition is making Link a playable character, a character with transformative gameplay mechanics.
It’s important because it’s cool as hell to swing Link’s sword and fire his bow-and-arrow, of course, but it also represents a potential future roadmap for Mario Maker 2 and beyond, one that’s exciting in a way Mario Maker 2 wasn’t. Mario Maker 2 is great, but in a lot of ways, it’s just the first Mario Maker on a console people actually own. There’s only so many items you can add before the whole thing starts running out of steam, and Link potentially changes that.
Hear me out: What if the sequel to Mario Maker 2 isn’t Mario Maker 3, but Super Nintendo Maker? A game channeling the chaos of Super Smash Bros. and Super Mario Kart in a new form, a game that uses the universally understood foundation of Mario for something bigger?
When Mario Maker came out, it was easy to speculate about potential spin-offs, especially one involving The Legend of Zelda. Maybe that still happens, but Nintendo’s mediocre attempt at dungeon creation tools in the recent Link’s Awakening remake suggest there’s a long way to go. (I’m still not convinced it ever happens.) Link dropped int o Mario Maker with hugely different ways of interacting with the world, though, makes a lot of sense. (It also means people are willing to forgive it’s side-scrolling 2D, ala The Adventure of Link).
But why stop there?
What if Kirby could eat enemies and transform? What if Samus could roll into a ball and reach tiny spaces? What if Fox McCloud could hop in an Arwing? The possibilities are endless in the same way you can imagine nearly any character slotting into Smash Bros.
The original Mario Maker actually had a similar, though less ambitious, system where players could unlock various costumes, letting them run around as Marth, Pikachu, and a host of other characters from Nintendo’s enormous roster. It didn’t change how the game played, but it was cute as all heck and gave creators additional variety in theming levels they were designing. The big shift for Mario Maker 2 is that Link does not play like Mario at all.
Maybe this is a one-off experiment, but I hope not. You’re onto something here, Nintendo. (Please put Mega Man in.)
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