The inexplicable removal of one of the most popular, ultra-tough Super Mario Maker 2 courses raises concerns about Nintendo’s moderation policy for the popular Switch title.
David Hunt, a popular Mario speedrunner who goes by GrandPooBear online, noticed this morning those are level “Pile of Poo: Kai-Zero G” without mercy from Nintendo’s Super Mario Maker 2 servers. Since its July 5 upload, the low-gravity track — which gets its name from the ultra-hard set of Mario ROM hacks known as Kaizo games — has received more than 1,200 “hearts” from more than 10,500 players since last night. This was enough to put it on the first page of popular “Super Expert” courses in the game.
But today isn’t the first time GrandPooBear has faced the seeming quirks of Nintendo’s online moderation. Three years ago, he found all his popular levels in the original Super Mario Maker was deleteda state of affairs that Nintendo was unable to adequately explain at the time in a recorded conversation with the streamer.
Nintendo maintains a code of conduct that allows removal Super Mario Maker 2 courses for a number of reasons, including exploiting in-game bugs, inappropriate content “such as offensive language”, and explicit advertising or promotional materials. In an email from Nintendo that GrandPooBear shared on Twitterthe company cites “inappropriate and/or harmful content” as the reason for the removal of “Kai-Zero G”, representing the company’s “final decision” on the matter.
While “Kai-Zero G” doesn’t appear to have any obvious explicit content, the word Poo does appear in the title and spelled out in block holes during part of the level (seen at about 0:30 here† Hunt say that’s a reference to nintendo’s earthbound character of the same name, which served as the inspiration for his handle, and should not serve as a reason for removal.
“All my Maker 1 levels containing the same name [Poo]are still active today after we re-uploaded them years ago,” GrandPooBeer tweeted† †[The] The Pile of Poo series is still very much alive in Mario Maker 1. They were re-uploaded after being deleted and have been uploaded for years. I can’t say enough that they have no problem with the name of my levels.”
Nintendo’s move comes as Reddit user be zach2thefuture. reports Super Mario Maker 2 level, “Storm Area 51,” was also removed for “inappropriate or harmful content”. The level was a clear reference to a popular meme that has so far attracted more than 1.3 million people to sign up on Facebook to attend a “Storm Area 51” event purportedly aimed at a massive infiltration of the Area 51 military base in Nevada to “see them aliens”. †
“I’d rather make a ROM hack”
In an email to Ars Technica, GrandPooBear says he believes he has been victimized by players who abuse Nintendo’s in-game course reporting system for fun. “I think it’s just a situation where, because I have a… [popular] streamer, we’re getting a lot of false reports,” he told Ars. “Since my other two tiers are training tiers and getting a lot of hearts, the threshold for removing that one is probably much higher than an insanely hard kaizo tier that doesn’t get as many plays as possible . I was told this happened to me in [the original Super Mario Maker] when they deleted all my levels.”
It’s unclear if and to what extent human moderators are involved in level removal for the millions of levels uploaded to Super Mario Maker 2 as far. Nintendo did not respond to a request for comment from Ars Technica.
“If there’s anything Nintendo could point out to me that caused this, I’d be happy to fix it if the opportunity arose,” said GrandPooBear. added on Twitter† “Given there is no way to do this, I have no idea what actually caused it. I left feeling like they just hate me.”
“Nintendo should never, ever remove anyone’s levels unless they contain plain language or blatant bullshit,” he continued in an email to Ars. “Get them out of the endless rotation so they don’t show up to random players, but removing people’s hard work is never a good idea. It erases the history of the game and potentially useful information, and it can lead to errors like this, causing players no longer want to be part of the community.”
After being struck for the second time by Nintendo’s inexplicable moderation, GrandPooBear appears to be resigned to its fate. “I’m not going to upload new real levels anytime soon,” he told Ars. “I’ll probably just stick with stupid technical levels to get my Maker score back up. But this is the second time this has happened to me… It feels like there’s little point in being a maker in this game if it is. will keep happening. I’d rather make a ROM hack that will last forever.”