Super Mario Maker 2 for Nintendo Switch has been out for just over a week and is consistently one of the most popular games being played on Twitch. Popular variety streamers like MOONMOON_OW and xQcOW have been spending countless hours beating their heads against the mushroom-colored wall as they attempt to overcome some of the most dreaded, difficult, and dare I say malicious Super Mario levels ever created.
Impossibly hard custom Mario levels have a long history going back to even before the original Mario Maker on WiiU. While many are designed to be an ultimate challenge of platforming ability, others are meticulously crafted troll levels created by sadists and broken humans who can no longer separate pleasure from pain. These levels are called Kaizo levels and will reach deep into the core of your being and rip out any will you had left to go on. They also happen to be very funny to watch.
Kaizo Mario And The History Of Troll Levels
Before Mario Maker, players were making custom Mario games and sharing them online. Called ROM hacks, these levels became popular with players who wanted to take the Mario skills they developed as kids and push them to the next level.
One of the most famous Mario ROM hacks, called Kaizo Mario World, was created in 2007 and is so famous for its high difficulty that an entire fan base of speed runners and masochists grew around it. Let's Play videos of the game drew millions of views on Youtube and now the word Kaizo is synonymous with custom Mario games with absurd difficulty.
These games require pixel-perfect precision and techniques the casual Mario player has never heard of or encountered, like midair shell jumps, air stalling, and ground pound cancels. Players, like GrandPOObear and BarbarousKing have made careers out of creating and playing Kaizo levels.
With Mario Maker and now Mario Maker 2, Nintendo has brought Kaizo Mario to a much wider audience. Though customization is slightly more limited in Mario Maker 2 compared to what can be done in a ROM hack (midairs are essentially gone from Mario Maker 2), creators have found ample opportunity to create the kind of soul-crushing levels they're passionate about and present them to a massive audience.
Honorable, veteran creators employ a "tough, but fair" mentality when creating levels (or in this case, an "almost impossible, but fair" mentality) but this isn't true for everyone. Some enterprising creators have found a way to cheat the system, so to speak, and are uploading levels that actually cannot be completed; unless you know the trick.
Dev Exits: A National Crisis
In Mario Maker 2, in order to upload a level you have created, you, the creator, are required to play the level from beginning to end. This is to ensure that no levels are uploaded that cannot be completed. It's an elegant solution that works 99% of the time, but hasn't stopped some devious level makers from figuring out how to upload levels to move past light-hearted trolling and into a place of malice.
Dev Exits are super sneaky alternate exits that creators hide in their levels that allow them to finish and upload the level without actually completing the "intended" route. Players will almost always miss these secret exits, and end up spending hours and hours trying to beat unbeatable levels. It's a nasty thing to do to players that are expecting a challenge they can overcome with enough hard work and dedication. These detestable fake levels can also really jeopardize an endless challenge run, which is Mario Maker 2's new high score mode that tasks you with beating as many levels as possible with a certain number of lives.
It isn't actually impossible to beat these levels, of'course. But the only way to do so is to find the hidden Dev Exit. Famous speed runner and Twitch Streamer Trihex discovered one such Dev Exit while playing a Mario Maker 2 level and, just as he completed the level, it was instantly deleted by the creator who had no interest in seeing his puzzle get solved. What better indication is there that these monsters need to be stopped?
It's a problem Nintendo will need to solve sooner rather than later. Removing secret exits would do the trick, but secret exits are a staple of the Mario franchise and many fans would not like to see them go. Another solution would be requiring the creator to finish the level using all available exits before uploading. Whichever way they fix it, let's hope they do so quickly before even one more of these sickos gets their jollies.
Mario Maker 2 - The Next Evolution In Suffering
I've written before about a new genre we've dubbed "Schadenfreude-vanias" for their unique way of delighting spectators and emotionally-defiling players. Mario Maker 2 is certainly cut from the same tear-soaked cloth. Many streamers are getting their first taste of the pain and pleasure of Mario Maker 2 and the Kaizo level.
From Dead Ends:
To Multiplayer Sabotage:
To Items That Definitely Should NOT Be Left Behind:
There is no end to the variety of suffering that can be supplied to unsuspecting players by clever level creators. When you've had your fill of heart-ache, though, there are some really incredible player-creators out there that must be seen to be believed. If you really want to know what Kaizo Mario is all about, check out one of the most prolific creators in the game: PangeaPanga. Below is his newest unholy creation, "The Pit of Penga: DieVine Garden."