Super Mario Maker Stages Still Vanishing Without A Trace

Nintendo updated its guidelines detailing why a Super Mario Maker level might be deleted, but the fact that they can be removed without warning points to bigger problems inherent in digital content.


If you or someone you know has been the victim of having your Super Mario Maker stages deleted by Nintendo without warning, you are not alone. The Big N posted updates to community guidelines that outline four reasons why a stage might get pulled out by the roots, but a fundamental problem still nags the game's creators and players.

Per the article posted to Nintendo's website, Nintendo may delete any level in Super Mario Maker for four reasons: low stars/plays, bugs, requesting stars from other users, and inappropriate content. Let's dig into the nuts and bolts of each reason.

The first reason seems clear enough. Super Mario Maker is, like so many online communities, a popularity contest. If you've built a reputation in Mario Maker, you're bound to get plenty of stars and plays on your levels—enough to keep your levels in circulation, at least. If, however, you're just a Joe Schmo, don't get too attached to your levels.

Moving on to reason number two: if one of your levels exhibits bugs or glitches unintended by either Nintendo or you, its creator, it could get yanked. "It's important that we remove levels with bugs quickly," Nintendo explains, "because letting these levels remain in Course World can lead to negative outcomes for many players such as players experiencing levels in unfair ways that the original course creator did not intend, or re-writing 'World Record' times."

This is where things might get dicey for some players. Part of the fun of video games is discovering new exploits and, for Super Mario Makers, figuring out ways to purposely implement them in their levels. Few games can be finished quickly without thinking outside the box and taking shortcuts. Just ask speed runners.

Reason three should be straightforward. Don't go around pandering for stars by trying to sneak words such as "Like" and "Yeah!" and the star symbol in level names. Which brings us to reason number four, inappropriate content. Avoid the usual assortment of four-letter words, racial epithets, and the like, and you should be fine.

That's all well and good, but a problem lingers. Nintendo has positioned these revised guidelines as your one and only warning. If one of your levels vanishes, Nintendo is under no obligation to give you a heads-up or an explanation. Worse, once a level's gone, it's gone forever. There's no way to get it reinstated; you can't even fix the problem and re-upload a level—because it cannot be recovered, and because Nintendo won't even tell you what problem you should have avoided in the first place. You're just expected to know.

Nintendo's update ends with a catch-all: "Other behavior in violation of the Nintendo Network Code of Conduct" can be deleted at the Big N's whim. You can read the terms and conditions if you want, but really, who's going to do that?

Kotaku's Patrick Klepek, a celebrity within the Mario Maker community, sums up the problem elegantly. "If they want to foster an active community in the months and years ahead, they need to communicate with that community."

I'll go a step further. The game historian in me doesn't like the idea of content disappearing with no chance to bring it back outside of lucking out and finding a YouTube video. Even then, watching someone else play video games is all well and good—and profitable—but ultimately, most games are meant to be played, especially ones like Super Mario.

Be it a Mario Maker level, a server set up to preserve an old version of an always-on game, or a proof of concept scrubbed from servers, the idea of digital content vanishing without a trace, and without any means of bring it back, is upsetting, and sets dangerous precedents for the future of digital content.

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at and @davidlcraddock.

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