With the anticipated sequel to Super Mario Maker, Nintendo's taken the vast, elaborate template of the original game and injected even more Mario-style insanity. Just like the first game, they've offered a complex virtual toolkit from which to create, share, and enjoy all sorts of interesting levels. At the same time, they offer accessibility, with the focus on visual elements and touch-screen abilities.
This well-crafted software has in turn provided a solid foundation from which creative designers - both amateur and professional - have built upon. This has resulted in some truly impressive, enjoyable, and some downright bizarre user-created stages.
With such a massive palette of stages and more being churned out every day, it's virtually impossible to pinpoint the very best. Yet, this list seeks to get about as close as it can - as we'll be factoring ingenuity, popularity, and most importantly, fun. So let's take a trip to the Mushroom Kingdom and beyond as we examine some of the greatest, and strangest user-created Mario Maker 2 levels.
10 Best: The NES TMNT Damn Level
Course ID: 4JQ-NTG-02G
All you have to do is mention "that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles dam level" and many gamers growing up in the late 80s-early 90s will get anxiety. The NES iteration of TMNT simultaneously contained exciting platforming gameplay along with some maddeningly tough trials. The dam stage, which was a relatively early portion of the game, quickly showed players that TMNT for the NES wasn't messing around.
This Super Mario Maker 2 iteration creatively captures the character of that underwater stage, and the frustrations that come with it. From the green tiles to the accurate layout to the bomb defusing, and even that intense corridor full of electric plankton - it's all here. While there may be some nostalgic bias for 80s and 90s kids, the actual design is well executed and makes for an exciting swimming romp.
9 Strangest: Party Mini Game: Shy Guy Says
Course ID: 512-S2K-XXG
This level might seem like a strange setup for those unfamiliar with the N64 Mario Party games. To the rest of us, though, this user-made showdown provides a cool little throwback to the Shy Guy Says minigame, with a touch of Mushroom Mixup as well.
The stage plays more like a bizarre game of "Simon Says" which tests your reaction time, rather than a straight-up platforming venture. Your goal is merely to survive a series of increasingly crazy scenarios of hazards raining upon you. To do so, you must jump to the platforms that are clear from falling spikes and Thwomps, which are tipped off by matching/color-coordinated items dropped on-screen. It's a weird, simplistic take on a Mario level, but an exciting one.
8 Best: Switch X Switch
Course ID: DRC-S88-TDF
With the seemingly infinite user-created content coming from the Mario Maker 2 pipeline, it's difficult to determine whether this Super Mario World-based stage deserves its current place as the most popular level. Yet, those who have powered through this series of creative switch-based trials will likely say it left an impression on them.
The level contains paths of cleverly-placed red and blue switches which must constantly be flipped back and forth in order to progress and survive to the end. The balance of complexity and accessibility is pretty much right on the mark. The creative and elaborate nature of the level design is up there with the best of anything Nintendo has produced. It also ends emphatically, with an exciting and unique end boss showdown.
7 Strangest: Table Tennis
Course ID: 55S-Bs4-Y1G
A reworking of an old idea from the first Super Mario Maker, Table Tennis runs with the Shy Guy Says formula of creating a distinct experience that isn't just bizarre - but basically plays as its own separate game. The creator uses a series of weird tricks and designer workarounds to build what's essentially a simple game of Pong used with Super Mario assets.
It's got a bit of a weird learning curve, as you have to get used to the slight delay in bonking your Bullet Bill-laced "paddle" upwards by smashing a block with your head. Once you get the hang of it though, this strange and simple reimagining of Table Tennis proves a fun little diversion from the more straightforward platforming stages.
6 Best: Parallel Universe
Course ID: NC5-Y8P-DBG
Though the NSMB overlay doesn't quite hold that same majesty and nostalgic charm as some of the other textures, GingerEg utilizes its few elements that do look nice, and has crafted an aesthetically cool stage as a result. Though the imaginative concept is the star of the show here.
The themes feel part Matrix and part Twilight Zone, as you'll be warping between 2 separate dimensions. One of the "dimensions" contains a smattering of coins, while the other swaps these out for blocks - transforming these riches into pathways as well as obstacles. This makes for a cool multi-dimensional dynamic that stresses puzzle elements over straight-up platforming. While there's not a ton of action, it leaves quite an impression with its surreal vibe and clever puzzles.
5 Strangest: Rescue The Mushroom
Course ID: HJY-KR1-Y8G
Rather than focusing on our favorite mustached plumbing hero, this stage turns things on their head and makes a helpless mushroom powerup the star of the show. The goal here is to bash various blocks above you to help guide a moving mushroom to the finish. It sounds straightforward, but there are a number of subtle, yet intricate obstacles that stand in your way. These include on-off switches, moving platforms, and even conveyor belts.
The only real enemy here is the ticky timer, which will run out on you quicker and more easily than you think, as you scramble to bring home the bacon - or in this case - the mushroom.
4 Best: Suntouch Sanctuary
Course ID: 78K-JP3-CYG
Similar to Switch X Switch, this level is impressively detailed and creatively designed, offering a fun ride - and one that feels like it was made by Nintendo themselves. Yet, unlike that stage - and most others on our list - Suntooth Sanctuary doesn't lean on crazy gimmicks to sell it. It's just a well-designed level, and sometimes, that's enough.
This series of mostly vertical corridors has you trekking through a variety of hazards, including pesky Buzzy Beetles, piranhas, on-off switches, and more. It also cleverly utilizes a block-busting mushroom powerup to close things out. The stage contains a fine balance of difficulty and simplicity throughout, which will keep you coming back without driving you mad.
3 Strangest: [Auto]
Course ID: DT8-0Y0-6QG
One of the fun twists users have discovered, dating back to the original Mario Maker on Wii U, is the ability to create "auto-run" stages. Rather than burdening the user with actually controlling Mario, these are visual spectacles that allow the player to sit back and watch Mario be pushed, bounced, and propelled across cleverly-placed objects.
One of the many absurdly random auto levels comes from the Japanese user "yai." This stage takes advantage of an endless pummeling of crazy colorful assets from Super Mario World. These range from cranes to Bullet Bills to Beetle shells. This is more of a complex "contraption" than a level, and one that's almost hypnotically entertaining. Something about seeing Mario just stand there and be guided to the goal as he weathers a barrage of hazards and chaos surrounding him is both hilarious and strangely inspirational...
2 Best: SELF-DESTRUCT: ACTIVATED
Course ID: 5CM-J5S-0KF
If you ever wanted to experience a Mario level that makes you feel like an action hero, SELF-DESTRUCT: ACTIVATED is probably the closest you'll get.
The stage has you making a mad dash for your life as you scramble through Bowser's castle, which is rigged with an endless stream of obstacles just waiting to end you. The level's fast scrolling nature - courtesy of a super tall bullet bill rushing towards you, makes for a heart-pounding speed run from start to finish. The difficulty can be frustrating, but it's tame enough to keep you coming back for more insanity.
This mad dash contains just the right dosage of excitement, complexity, and fun, with a touch of amusing elements designed to troll the player.
1 Strangest: Boom Boom Pinball
Course ID: 0XM-KQS-0LF
This wacky Mario-based take on a pinball game has just about all the elements to make it a truly strange romp - random assets, a crazy premise, and unorthodox mechanics to make it work. The game uses a spike shell as your ball, as you feed it through a conveyor belt and watch it bounce around and wreak havoc on familiar Mario baddies.
The end goal is to take out oversized Koopalings and gather red coins scattered about. The gameplay is mostly passive, but you'll need to coax Thwomps to bash giant paddles flanking both sides of you, which propel the ball into action. Yeah, there's really no way to describe this off-the-wall pinball rendition without sounding goofy. You just have to experience the madness yourself.