With the final major update for Super Mario Maker 2 out in the wild now, one cannot help but feel like the curtain is closing just a little too soon. The game has already done much to improve upon the foundation laid down by its predecessor, but the addition of “World Builder” mode and the Koopalings shows that there’s still so much that could be done within the Mario Maker framework. Super Mario Brothers 2 still hasn’t been explored outside of the brand new SMB2 Mushroom power-up and there are still aspects of Super Mario 3D World left unexplored. It’s been a year, but only now does it feel like the game’s gaining some momentum, so what’s next?
Super Mario Maker and Super Mario Maker 2 both sold well during their runs. The Wii U exclusive managed to move about four million units since its launch in 2015, and Super Mario Maker 2 has already hit at least five million in total sales. This has become a popular and lucrative property for Nintendo, so it’s unlikely that they’ll just end it here. Yet, they’ve already said that this was the last major update for Super Mario Maker 2. This likely means one of two things: paid DLC or Super Mario Maker 3.
Premium DLC and updates are technically different in that one requires an additional payment while the other tends to be freely accessible to all owners of the game. Nintendo has been growing more and more open to the idea of paid DLC over the years, so paid Super Mario Maker 2 DLC is not completely outside the realm of possibility. The game has already been out for a year, however, and Nintendo hasn’t said so much as a single word about paid DLC in that time, so the publisher probably won’t start selling it now. In all likelihood, the Super Mario Maker team is now shifting their attention to Super Mario Maker 3 now that this last update is in players’ hands.
So what kinds of features could fans look forward to in a hypothetical Super Mario Maker 3? Well, at the very least they could expect to see most of what’s already been implemented in Super Mario Maker 2. With the exception of Amiibo support, Super Mario Maker 2 offered fans just about everything seen in the original, so it’s reasonable to expect the same in the third entry. Fans could also expect to see quality of life improvements in regard to online functionality, particularly in the realm of browsing for levels.
It’s easier to find levels now than it was on the Wii U, but it’s still difficult to dig into the wider body of levels available in the game. Some kind of search functionality (aside from exact codes) would be helpful, as would more specific browsing categories. The real star of a third game would be features though and there are definitely a few things Nintendo could try if it was so inclined.
A more fully-realized Super Mario Brothers 2 world theme would be the obvious place to start. It’s gotten much less attention than the other 2D Mario games and offers real changes to traversal and platforming. Characters could even differ slightly in how they jump, just like in the original. Nintendo could also bring in more features from Super Mario 3D World or the 3DS handheld games in the form of power-ups or even some things styled after Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine.
Nintendo has, by necessity, left the 3D Mario games out of Super Mario Maker for the most part. Therefore, there’s a wealth of assets and content yet to be adapted for the Maker series. 2D representations of fan-favorites like FLUDD or even Cappy from Super Mario Odyssey could be brought in if they’re feeling ambitious. There’s a whole world of content that’s yet to be explored in the Mario Maker context, so there’s plenty to look forward to if Nintendo does indeed decide to make a third Super Mario Maker game. One could even say that the series’ best days are still very much ahead of it.