It’s no surprise that Super Mario Maker 2 has some addictive qualities. The ability to endlessly play new courses of one of the greatest series of all time, mass produced by the Switch’s massive gamer population, akin to jumping across alternate realities to a world full of new levels every time is an exciting prospect indeed.
Combine that with the ability to create levels with a competent stage builder (looking at you, Smash Ultimate) and have them viewed, played and liked by the world, and you’ve got the recipe for a good time for years to come.
But what really hooked me on Super Mario Maker 2 for the first few weeks were the elusive medals.
Mario Maker 2 has two primary ways of rewarding the player, beyond the core gameplay experience. The first is with costumes – outfits that resemble characters, items or environments found within Super Mario Bros. titles, which add a little flair to your mii avatar.
The second, more challenging reward came in the form of medals – little rewards that could be viewed on your profile, and appeared next to your name on courses you created. These medals were essentially Super Mario Maker 2’s achievement system, rewarding you for putting in a ridiculous amount of time into the game.
These medals came in bronze, silver, gold, and there were even special medals for the top placing players across the entire world. Pushing through thousands of levels, or working on the absolute best stage you could create to earn these medals was definitely addicting in all the right ways, at least for myself.
However, there’s a catch…
Super Mario Maker 2’s medals are based on your performance when compared to other players, rather than an pre-determined number of stages cleared or likes earned. For example, the endless mode started awarding medals when you reached a global ranking of 1,000 or less.
The real issue with this system is that once you’ve earned a medal, it can be lost. That means that even if you played through 3,000 courses on easy mode to hit the top 1,000 players, as soon as you take a break and let other players pass you, the medal disappears from your profile.
The idea of these rewards being temporary seems like such a misstep on the part of the developers from my point of view. Rather than offering something anyone can achieve with enough effort, the game chooses to celebrate only the players who are willing to make Super Mario Maker 2 their primary gaming experience.
It’s a shame, because I could easily have seen myself putting hundreds of additional hours into Super Mario Maker 2 because of the medals alone. It was fun, pushing through stage after stage to get that acknowledgement.
However, now that I know these achievements are only temporary, I find myself asking “what’s the point?” Honestly, I should be thanking the devs – rather than wasting hundreds of hours chasing after a few golden pixels on my Maker profile, I can actually go back to living my life.
Still, the game had an opportunity to really reel in the achievement hunters out there. I can’t help but feel that’s one area where Super Mario Maker 2 falls flat.