Though Super Mario Maker 2 was the first game in the decades-old Nintendo series to support online multiplayer, the feature premiered in late June with a curious twist. Its owners could jump online and play a slew of custom-created levels in either versus or co-op modes, but only against strangers.
Shortly before the game’s Switch launch, Nintendo acknowledged how crazy this sounded and promised that friends would eventually be able to pair up in these online modes via friend lists. In the months that followed, Nintendo remained utterly silent… until the wee hours of Tuesday night, when the game’s 1.1.0 patch went live.
We can confirm that Super Mario Maker 2 now works like almost every other online game we’ve ever played. We were able to contact people we knew on a Nintendo Switch friends list, start a SMM2 session, and play with (or against) said friends. (Only Nintendo could merit an entire article about playing an online game with friends in 2019.)
Part of the newsworthiness is how desperately the game needed this update. As a Switch game, SMM2‘s network performance can vary wildly based on whether players use Wi-Fi (the system default) or plug in an optional Ethernet adapter. While many genres of online game, particularly fighting and shooting, have evolved over the past 20-plus years to accommodate the realities of online lag and latency, the precise art of Mario-style platforming hasn’t been so lucky.
As a result, it’s pretty common for SMM2‘s online players to randomly matchmake with at least one excruciatingly slow player. In this situation, all players must wait until every player receives data packets before they can jump, run, or do anything in a versus game. Our routine tests of the game over the past few months have included too many of these freezes to keep track, usually resulting in half-second or full-second pauses between each frame of animation until the culprit bad-connection player disconnects.
The 1.1.0 patch notes also hint to a new online quality-of-life feature. Nintendo says the game will now check for connection stability before an online match launches, and it’ll automatically cancel a match if all players don’t reach a certain latency threshold. This may very well reduce the aforementioned latency-pain scenario for future players in random matchmaking, but how well it works remains to be seen.
Should you wish to engage in voice chat with friends, however, you still have to jump through the Switch-specific hoop of downloading and installing the Nintendo Switch Online app on an Android or iOS device, at which point you can activate your phone’s microphone. In good news, at least, the NSO app automatically buzzes on your device when you jump into a SMM2 friends-only lobby, and its integration is as seamless as a required, additional online device can possibly be. But voice chat only works in a friends-only SMM2 match, and only with this NSO app.
The biggest additional change in the 1.1.0 patch is a new wireless LAN mode, which lets four Switch consoles in the same room connect to each other via the same LAN connection, as opposed to using the Switch’s built-in Bluetooth option. (If you’re wondering: yes, this will likely result in more stable local-multiplayer sessions.) Meanwhile, level creators will appreciate a mild control tweak that allows touchscreen and controller button options simultaneously. (Before, you had to pick one or the other.)
Listing image by Nintendo