Yes, my favorite game of the current century is indeed one I’m still playing, and making levels for. I’ve got two things to discuss this time, my latest levels and a certain accomplishment I completed. It’s not the hardest thing you could do in this game but it took me quite a while so I’m pretty happy I did it.
For my levels, I have uploaded three levels since my last post in May. Two of the three are uncleared, and none of my older uncleared levels have been cleared either, unsurprisingly; a lot of people have left this game, sadly. I get it, Super Mario Wonder is out — and yes I do have it and it’s quite good, I will write about that game on this site soonish for sure — but still, Mario Maker 2 is incredible. Wonder is fantastic, but nothing else matches Mario Maker 2 at its best.
Lastly, at the end I also have a little comment on Nintendo’s latest awful announcement about the Wii U and Super Mario Maker 1. That game is being shut down next year along with all Wii U online services. It’s sad but true. I hope that Mario Maker 2 won’t be joining it any time soon.
My Latest Super Mario Maker 2 Levels
First, in July, three months after my previous level, I made another level: Bouncing in the Clouds. This is another Super Mario Bros. 3-theme level with the sky theme, since I hadn’t made a sky SMB3 level before and I decided I wanted to. The level code is MGW-448-DWG. My clear time was 2:20, so it’s a mid-length level. I think the length is just about right. This stage has two parts. It starts out with a fairly standard for me jumping section where you are jumping between small platforms and bounce pads in the clouds, as the name says. I really like this kind of stage, where you aren’t as pressured as you are in kaizo to do exactly the right move at exactly the right timing or you die immediately but do have reasonably challenging jumps to navigate. This is what I think platformers are about. Sure, the concept and execution here are simple, but it’s the fun kind of simple.
The second part of the level was a challenge I set for myself: I wanted to try to build a custom boss challenge room. Now, in Mario Maker games there are two kinds of boss fights: one where you fight one of the standard bosses, either in a plain room or in some custom chamber, and contraptions that function as a boss using some kind of hopefully clever item usage to create a boss-like experience. I’d never tried to make one of the latter kind of boss rooms before this level but was interested in trying. The resulting area isn’t incredibly complex, but I think it works well. It’s a several screen high area where you first have to get to the top of a large box with flame jets coming out of all of its sides, then get a shell, then go back down and throw that shell into a small hole on one side of the large box structure. Repeat this three times and you get a key and can proceed to the end. Is it frustrating sometimes, sure, but it’s a fair challenge. I’d love to get some feedback on this room but I like the results, it’s challenging but fun. I think I succeeded at what I wanted to do.
My next stage published a bit over a month after the previous one. Actually, though, I completed the basic layout of the third level I’m covering here before I started this one. I decided that I wanted to make another hard level with shell jumps in it and such… but I wanted more than that, so after some experimentation I thought of something: how about not just jumping off of a shell, but jumping off of a snowball that a Spike’s throwing at you from the top of a cliff in order to get to the top of that cliff? You see, in the winter theme the green enemy called Spike throws snowballs at you instead of spike balls. They are, obviously, much less deadly, and you can jump off of them normally. They bounce you back if they hit you, though. Spikes in the winter Super Mario World theme don’t run at you, either, they stand still throwing snowballs at you. This is key for how these levels work.
A lot of levels have snowballs, but I’ve never seen a level with this particular usage of them before, myself. After completing the design of the level, though, I was intimidated by how hard it would be for a pretty average player like me to clear it, so I didn’t even try to do so for weeks. I decided, instead, to make a short level that focused exclusively on the tech I’d thought of, jumping off of diagonally falling snowballs in order to make it up cliffs. Watch out for the Spikes on top of the cliffs, though, they are right in front of you! Precise landing of your jumps is required. This level was uploaded in late August. It’s Snowball Jump Trials and has the level code B70-1HX-X1H. It is a winter-themed Super Mario World theme stage and my clear time was 1 minute 20.
The stage has three of these snowball jumps, with the last one being a bit trickier than the first two since I didn’t put in any guide coins. I also put in a little puzzle at the end; it’s nothing hard, but maybe don’t kill that last Spike… you’ll need it. Heh. Get past the puzzle and you win. This is a short level that’s only a minute and a bit long, and with its moderate difficulty and short length it’s not surprising that it has clears and a few likes. If I made more levels this length and not as long as most of my levels are I’m sure they’d be cleared more often, but… I can’t help it, overall I like making a longer level more than a shorter one. I do like this level though, it’s a fun little challenge with a tech that I’m surprised I haven’t seen levels use.
After uploading Snowball Jump Trials, some time passed. Eventually I decided to start trying to actually clear that previous harder level that I had designed. Its name is The Mountain of Torment and its level code is PGP-1L1-F0G. I uploaded it in late October. My clear check time was 4:12, but you can do significantly better; I decided to not do the thing I’d usually do and keep trying until I got a clean run because it was decent enough to do. I’m sure you could clear this level in at least a minute less than my clear check, and perhaps less than that. As with the previous stage it is a winter themed Super Mario World level. This level starts out fairly normally, until you hit the up pipe jump. Past that you have snowball jumps, a vertical section, a few shell jumps where you have to hit the shell in midair over a gap, and more. There isn’t any crazy hard tech here, but there is enough to make the level a stiff challenge for me.
So once I started trying to upload the stage I started out not doing well at all, which is unsurprising given all the moderately tricky techs I put in the stage. I tweaked things here and there, gave it a few tries now and then, and then put it aside for a bit. Eventually I decided I really wanted to clear it before the end of October, so I got more serious about playing the level. The practice really paid off and I knew I could clear it. And then I did… and then I realized that I’d made the boss room key door a regular door for testing and hadn’t fixed the issue. Oops. I’m glad I’d messed that up though, because before the final upload I made a few more tweaks that improved the level, it’d be a less good level without them.
After fixing that mistake I put the game down for a bit, got Mario Wonder since it released about then, and didn’t return to Mario Maker 2 until several days later. Once I got back to this level though, I cleared and uploaded it surprisingly quickly. It’s not that hard of a level, kaizo players would surely consider it easy. I’m just not good enough to consistently hit the jumps the way a good player could. I’m sure a good player would beat this level in five minutes. I found it challenging though, and I think it made me better at this game, too — I’m hitting shell jumps more consistently than I did before I built this stage for sure. Trying to beat a level that is hard for you is a great way to get better at Mario Maker 2. So, why not give this level a try? If you’re good you will beat it without too much trouble I imagine, but if you’re not you will get better at the game as you try to clear it. I had a lot of fun uploading this level and don’t regret a second of the time I spent playing it.
My Other Mario Maker 2 Accomplishment
So, what is that other thing I did in Mario Maker 2? I finally completed a run of getting over a thousand clears in Endless Normal. This isn’t an arbitrary goal because getting a thousand clears in each of the games’ four difficulty levels unlocks a costume item for your Mario Maker avatar. Beating a thousand levels in Normal may sound easy, and for a good player I’m sure it would be, but it really isn’t. While most Normal levels are not all that hard, Normal throws curveballs at you sometimes, occasionally hurling something straight out of Super Expert and at you because the only people who had played it before are very good. You also start with only five lives in Normal, which is not enough. Most of my runs in Normal end quickly because of not having enough lives to survive. Once I decided to see how far I could get in Normal, I thought it’d be easier than it was; Easy is extremely easy and Expert is hard, so Normal will be only a medium challenge at best, right?
Well, if played without skipping those occasional hard levels that drop into Normal, not so much. My first good run at endless Normal ended at like 500-something lives. I played most of it no skip, before starting to skip once my lives got low. Looking back, I think that I could only have gotten that far without skipping because whenever I did this last year or such the levels weren’t as hard as they are now, because the levels I played this time were hard! The levels in Mario Maker 2 have gotten harder over time as players get better, so this does make sense. I’m better than I used to be at this game, and so are many other people, and the levels you get reflect that. My second attempt at endless normal got me to 700-something levels, before it sadly crashed out because I spent way too many lives on an absurdly hard level I’d never have been able to clear and should have skipped early. I didn’t game over on that level but I never recovered my life count after burning like 30 lives on one level.
After that, I told myself that my third attempt would not go like the previous ones. I’d skip any level that I was dying on much in order to keep the run going. I’d try to fight my instinct to keep trying those levels I know I can beat at a cost of too many lives. And this time, it worked! Well, kind of. I did indeed finally get to a thousand clears, a long time after I started this challenge because I’d play a few levels here and there most of the time, other than a few days where I’d just play endless N0rmal for hours, but a bit over a thousand levels completed now I have only 28 lives. Considering that your life counter maxes out at 99, that’s not great. I had more than 50 lives at a bit over 900 clears, but stopped playing much for weeks after reaching that point. Once I got back to it I quickly wasted over half of those lives on various hard levels. I ran into so many awful, poorly designed life-drainer levels that it’s kind of crazy! Sure, I skipped them if I couldn’t beat them in three or five lives or so, but when you keep going -5 on levels and then on the levels you do clear you only get back maybe one life in a stage it adds up to a rapid life decline. This is why knowing how to bounce on a shell just right to get lives from a single shell is such a useful technique, it’s too bad I haven’t learned it yet. Oh well. Dying on levels I should have beaten didn’t help either, but that’s just how I am, I consistently choke when there is pressure, only to beat that same level in a try or two once I’ve skipped it and am playing it without the pressure of limited lives.
Anyway, at least I did stop the life decline — I got down to 18 lives at the low point, ten less than I have now — and completed the thousand clear challenge, so even if I made it hard for myself I got that costume and completed a major accomplishment in this game. Of the four 1000 level awards in Endless, I easily could get the one in Easy, I just haven’t because Easy levels are incredibly, mind-numbingly easy. Almost none provide any kind of a challenge at all, I don’t find Easy very fun for more than a stage or two here and there. Maybe I will do this eventually just to get the reward, I’m not sure. As for Expert, my record is still 9. I doubt I’ll get to a thousand anytime, heh. And Super Expert’s not happening, it’s way too hard for me to beat more than a level or two in a run. Ah well. Still, only about 5,400 people have completed a thousand levels in endless Normal, so this is a decent accomplishment in this game considering how many people have played it.
Overall, as great as the wildly imaginative new enemies, design ideas, and more of Super Mario Bros. Wonder and its mostly well-designed stages are, I honestly do prefer this game. Sure, a lot of the levels are terrible, unfair, broken messes, and a lot of the rest are pretty bland, but the magic of never knowing what you’re going to get, seeing the kinds good and bad of things people make with this toolkit? There’s nothing like it. Even so, though, Wonder is fantastic and I’ll get back to it soon. My next article will be about SMB Wonder. As for Super Mario Maker 2, though, it’s still every bit as incredible a game as it ever has been. I wish that it had more stage themes and such, and yes I badly hope that we eventually get a Super Mario Maker 3, but as long as this game continues to get support I will play it.
On that note, though, Nintendo has announced that all Nintendo Wii U online services will be turned off early-ish in 2024. This means that the Super Mario Maker 1 online servers will be disconnected then, rendering the game basically useless since it does not have much built-in content. There probably is or will be a private server, but it’s not the same as the real Nintendo server. This is yet another expected but horrendous decision from Nintendo; surely the Wii U / 3DS servers could have been left up, particularly for key games like this one that still draw interest… but Nintendo doesn’t care about that, they only care about if you are buying things for their current system. It’s a real shame. This will probably happen to Mario Maker 2 someday as well, though the much greater success of the Switch hopefully will push that back a long time. In these last months of the official SMM1 servers, though, some people are trying to clear every level in the game. There are only about 18,000 uncleared uploaded and not deleted levels left in all of SMM1, so it is a possibly attainable goal. Can SMM1 be finished before it’s shut down? It’ll be very interesting to see! I hope this can be done.