When Chris Kohler, Features Editor at Kotaku, posted a Super Mario Maker 2 level, he never expected to be accused of plagiarism. It all began after he posted a brief article, highlighting a level he shared on the game called That Goomba Had A Family. The next day Reddit and his Twitter had exploded with accusations of copying. He took to Twitter and the comments on his article to stress “No, I would never, ever do something like that.”
The original accusation was posted on From Game To Brain by user RySal #5. In the post the writer directly accuses Kohler of copying a level named “Mario’s Remorse,” created by JoshLamm. They post 5 different screenshots of the 2 levels side by side and briefly discuss the story line.
The concept is that Mario stomps a Goomba before gaining a key to his house. Once inside, he discovers an entire Goomba family. He finishes them off before ending up down a warp path to the underworld, where he must confront his actions and escape.
The article also makes direct accusations of plagiarism, posing a hypothetical to readers to “imagine the disappointment you would feel if a journalist at Kotaku copied your level, uploaded it, and became Mario Maker famous for it.”
Kohler has responded on Twitter and in the comments of his original post on Kotaku, stressing his innocence.
I haven't played the level in question, but if its creator is reading this or following along, I want to assure them that I did not have any interaction with their level whatsoever prior to seeing screens of it today.— Chris Kohler (@kobunheat) July 4, 2019
Again, I have never, ever done such a thing and never would.
Naturally, the response has been huge to both this accusation and Kohler’s denial. Some are suggesting that it is direct plagiarism, while others have been defending Kohler. As more people play the levels, opinions become increasingly split. One person even changed their mind after uploading screenshots of the two side by side.
Well.— CornishDinosaur (@JoeCarne) July 4, 2019
Here's the part where I smack myself upside the head, because as I uploaded the screenshots and added text, I can see I was blatantly wrong.
There are similarities, but more than enough differences.
I have some comments to delete and apologise for.
There’s also a strong defense from one Twitter user who points out that Super Mario Maker 2 has a feature which allows you to see who has played a level. As such, Kobun’s account is not on the list as having played the Mario’s Remorse level.
Mario Maker shows you who's played a level and your account doesn't show up on their level, so you're in the clear there.— Andy 🇮🇹🇳🇱 (@bloopbedoop) July 4, 2019
Certainly the concepts used in both levels are not as unique as many people are suggesting. The idea of Goomba having a family has been in Mario lore for a long time, they even appear in Paper Mario.
The underworld concept is also far from new, with many underworld based levels existing for the first Super Mario Maker game. Plus, the game simply has its own limitations, meaning many levels have natural similarities.
If you want to play the courses for yourself, the code for JoshLamm's "Mario's Remorse" is CB9-QSL-6PG. Additionally, the code for Chris Kohler's "That Goomba had a Family" is 7JF-QBH-34G. Then, you can decide if Kohler's level was indeed plagiarism or an unlucky coincidence.