Super Mario Maker 2 previews are now live across the internet and the impressions are largely positive and it looks like Nintendo has another Game of the Year contender on its plate. While all of the plentiful new features are interesting, it’s disappointing that the online cooperative play in the upcoming platformer can only be done with random players online rather than just friends. By not making Super Mario Maker 2 online co-op playable with friends, Nintendo is making a huge mistake.
This is far from the first time that Nintendo has messed up online multiplayer in a way that seems like the company is going out of its way to do so. Super Mario Party was a landmark title in the series as it was the first with online play.
However, you could only play a handful of minigames online and none of the actual boards. It was a total bastardization of the core game and a meaningless diversion rather than a selling point like it should have been. Heck, this isn’t even the first time that Nintendo has forced players to play online against randoms with no option to play with friends as Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash had the same exact issue.
We’re in an era where online multiplayer is a more commonplace feature than local multiplayer in games and yet Nintendo is still straying away from this industry trend. Several of its recently released multiplayer-focused titles such as New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe had zero sort of online multiplayer and instead relied on playing with friends locally.
It’s that same rationale that made Super Mario Maker 2‘s online play so exciting. For the first time ever, players can play a Mario platformer with other people online. It’s a huge milestone that could be used as a selling point and instead it gets an disappointing asterisk attached to it.
Is a patch for Super Mario Maker 2 online co-op possible?
You can even play Super Mario Maker 2 levels with your friends locally, which makes this entire scenario even more baffling. So, this isn’t some grand creative choice of forcing random players to work together like in Capcom’s Devil May Cry 5. Instead, it is a strange exclusion that makes zero logical sense. There’s online play. There’s the ability to play with friends in multiplayer, yet no ability to do both at the same time. There is no need for this to be so complicated, but Nintendo making things needlessly complex is a time-honored tradition at this point.
The obvious hope is that Nintendo will wind up patching in the ability to play Super Mario Maker 2 online co-op with your friends. After all, the infrastructure is clearly there for the online play itself, and it shouldn’t be something overly difficult to do. However, Nintendo has been incredibly stubborn in the past and the closest parallel to this situation is the aforementioned Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, which never received a patch. That makes me more skeptical than hopeful, even if it seems like a no-brainer to just add the feature in since it will drive interest to the sequel.
If there is one reason for fans to hold out hope for a patch it’s that Nintendo has shown more robust online support for their titles as of late. Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash‘s sequel on Switch, Mario Tennis Aces, received a number of new modes, characters and updates in the year since it has released.
Similarly, Kirby Star Allies has received a ton of new playable characters from past games in free updates and it feels like a much more complete game after launching in a limited capacity. This shows that Nintendo is paying attention to fan feedback and isn’t just totally abandoning games after putting them out. Even the original Mario Maker had several updates, although none added features this big. Nintendo probably won’t change how the mode operates, but at least this isn’t a total lost cause.
Super Mario Maker 2 online co-op can show that Nintendo is progressing
By limiting Super Mario Maker 2‘s online co-op to just random players, Nintendo isn’t just screwing up some secondary aspect of the game. It’s messing up a key selling point as to why those that already have the first should pick up the sequel. The game looks fantastic, but the ability to play with others is one of the biggest additions. The rest is building off the strengths of the original in expected, if still certainly welcome, ways. This was the most exciting addition to be revealed in the recent Nintendo Direct and to have it tarnished is beyond disappointing.
This entire issue is bigger than Super Mario Maker 2, as it is reflective of Nintendo failing to progress as a company. If it truly wants to show that it is evolving alongside the rest of the industry and is taking online play seriously, then Nintendo needs to add in this feature. This could serve as an important step forward and a major change in tone since Super Mario Maker 2 is one of its biggest games of 2019 and sure to sell millions of copies just like its predecessor did on Wii U and 3DS.
Nintendo has delivered sub-par online play to its fans dozens of times over the past decade and it’s time for that to change. Not only should fans expect better from the company, but Nintendo is essentially screwing itself out of additional sales by not adding features that have become an accepted norm in current gaming. There is no acceptable reason for Super Mario Maker 2 online co-op to not be played with friends and it’s an embarrassing mistake by Nintendo to exclude the feature. Despite the runaway success of the Nintendo Switch, it’s clear that many of the company’s issues won’t go away over night.