Super Mario Maker has always been a great tool for creators. While there are any number of level creators out there, only Mario Maker has the physics of the classic platformer and an easy to use interface. Super Mario Maker 2 even has an extensive set of tutorials to help wannabe developers to learn the basics of level design.
The welcoming atmosphere that encourages players to build their own levels is one of the main draws of Super Mario Maker. Even if you buy the title only to try other creator’s levels, there is a draw to try to make your own stages with a simple and friendly interface. The interface is even easy for children to get into and play around with, letting them create what could be their very first levels.
Super Mario Maker is the perfect level creator for children and adults alike, and with levels created by kids and parents creating levels for their kids, it offers a unique opportunity to bond over gaming.
The Mario Maker subreddit has some great stories on just how parents and children play Super Mario Maker together. There are tales of teaching young children the magic of Mario, and others of kids creating levels and brainstorming ideas with enthusiastic mothers and fathers. Gaming can be a bonding experience in all sorts of ways, but few bring the creation aspect quite how Super Mario Maker does.
Some parents use Super Mario Maker to create easy levels for their children to get use to Mario and video games in general. Redditor ModMXV talks about how his wife is teaching their toddler the ins and outs of Mario via simple levels:
“My son sometimes shoulder surfs me playing some various Switch games with passing interest. (…) He saw us playing [Super Mario Maker 2] on the TV and he was interacting and asking questions which is very new for him. I had a shower thought that I could introduce him to some VERY basic stuff on Mario Maker 2. I jammed out a quick flat level with a few jumps and he was hooked. My wife has been taking it to the next level. She’s been trying to make a Mario level a day for him to clear.”
With ModMXV’s wife creating levels every day for their son, she’s teaching him the ropes of Mario, and eventually, maybe he’ll want to play Mario together with his parents or even create his own levels. More simplistic levels can be less frustrating for young children than sticking them in a normal Mario game, and it’s not likely a 3-year-old is going to know what to do with a Goomba or Koopa on instinct.
Another touching story involves a dad trying to get his child’s level played. For all the good Super Mario Maker 2 does, it can be hard to actually get a level played and get feedback. Mr_Jokerer explains how his 5-year-old son was very excited about creating levels, but they just wouldn’t get any plays. So he went to Twitch for help:
“I decided to stay up and secretly get his level a bunch of plays hopefully from other streamers, so that he had a nice surprise in the morning when he saw a bunch more played it. It was all going how you would expect. (…) This was until I came to TheUberPikachu and his amazing chat. (…) The chat started racing for World Record. Over and over taking it from each other. That’s when Uber noticed and kinda maybe skipped a few in line to play the level with chat. It was probably like an hour to hour and a half of all of them playing this level. It was awesome to watch and be a part of.”
Mr_Jokerer ended his story with how excited his son was in the morning when he woke up and saw all the plays on his level. It’s a heartwarming story about encouraging his child’s creatively, made all the better with the subreddit’s commenters also chipping in and playing the level.
Of course, these stories are not unique to Super Mario Maker 2. Even the original Super Mario Maker let kids and parents bond, even if courses were a little harder to share. Crashoddity shares his story in the comments section of a thread about Mario Maker and Kids:
“My 5 year old and I constantly discuss new ideas and gimmicks for levels. We are always checking out YouTube videos on unique Mario Maker levels as well as grabbing stuff from here for inspiration. Sometimes when I’m tucking him into bed, he will blurt out an idea for a level that’s been cooking in his head all day, and before I know it I’m wrapped up in a fascinating game design conversation with my 5 year old son. All thanks to Mario Maker.”
There are also other benefits of his kids playing Mario Maker, as Crashoddity says they’ve gotten much better at other video games from their time playing levels. “I play multiplayer Mario U, 3D World, and Yoshi’s Wooly World with them and they’re able to keep up with me, fight bosses and enemies, hunt for secrets, get through tough levels, etc.” That only creates more games that Crashoddity and his kids can play in the future.
In many cases, these stories wouldn’t have been possible without Super Mario Maker. Whether it being level editors in other games being too complex for kids (or even adults) to handle, to other games not being easy enough for a young child to grasp, in many cases video games can be hard for children to learn.
Parents being able to introduce children to a new form of media without as many of the frustrations they themselves faced when playing games as a kid can make the difference between a bonding experience and the kids just wanting to do something else. While the hype for Super Mario Maker 2 may have passed, there isn’t a better gaming tool on the market to really help children and parents bond through gaming.