Games

3,353 Hours Later, 'Mario Maker' Creator Still Trying to Beat Same Level

Braden "ChompChompBraden" Moor has been playing the same level, a nightmare of his own creation, for more than four years.
December 2, 2020, 2:00pm
Artwork from the video game Super Mario Maker.
Artwork courtesy of Nintendo

What's the longest it's taken you to beat a level in a game? Braden "ChompChompBraden" Moor, I promise, has everyone else beat. To date, Moor has spent more than four years, totaling more than 3,353 hours, trying to beat a single level in Super Mario Maker. The reason Moor keeps banging his head against it is because the only way for other people to play it is for Moor to beat the level himself. Then, Nintendo will let the stage onto its servers.

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Moor's stage is called Trials of Death, and it's a doozy, even by the messy standards of Mario Maker, where the community is constantly trying to make harder and harder levels.

I've been checking in on Moor for more than four years, and have written several articles (here, here, here) about their progress. It may not seem like progress to you and me, given that Moor has spent the equivalent of 140 real-life days trying to beat the same level and failing to do so, but all along, Moor has both expressed confidence in their ability to see things through.

Here's the problem for Moor: Nintendo recently said it would be shutting down online support for Mario Maker on Wii U at the end of March. You'll still be able to make Mario levels on Wii U, but as of March 31, 2021, there will no longer be an option to share them with the rest of the world online. Anything already uploaded, however, will continue to be playable.

"Everything is going alright currently," said Moor to VICE Games recently, after the news from Nintendo was announced. "Motivation won't be any lower."

This isn't the first time Moor has experienced a spike in doubt from outsiders. Trials of Death was developed for the original Mario Maker, and Moor was still trying to beat it when Mario Maker 2 was announced—then released. A lot of fan interest shifted over to the sequel. 

"Some people saw it [Mario Maker 2] as a deadline since inevitably a large portion of the community would be moving on," said Moor. "The project was always intended as a personal challenge, but this was the turning point where I fully realized that. And while the bulk of the community did eventually leave the game behind, all the support surrounding me remained."

Part of the stream's attraction has been watching Moor try to beat Trials of Death, but hand-in-hand was the knowledge that beating it meant others could experience it, too. That will no longer be the case; if Moor defeats Trials of Death, it will be a victory for one: himself.

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"People are once again definitely pulling for me to try and get this thing up before uploading is no longer an option," he said, "but if it doesn't happen in time for that, the true end goal of me clearing the level is still going to happen. Not too many people were ever lining up to play the level for themselves. They all just want to see the clear happen, and that's still going to be delivered whether it's on the servers or not."

Over the course of its creation, Moor pushed the Mario Maker creation tools to their limits. This process was part of making Trials of Death. If Moor was able to beat it, that means it wasn't hard enough, and at a certain point, the editor wouldn't allow Moor to add more features to the level. That became the version Moor has been trying to beat for years now.

"When I finally beat this level," said Moor to me in September 2016, an entire presidential cycle ago. "I'll be ready to take a break from this game. At least a break from playing it, that is. I'll certainly enjoy watching anyone crazy enough to give the level a go. I look forward to the day when I can say that I completed 'Trials of Death.'"

So far, Moor has not beaten Trials of Death. You can continue to watch him try on Twitch.

Follow Patrick on Twitter. His email is patrick.klepek@vice.com, and available privately on Signal (224-707-1561).