At long last, Mario Maker 2 is here. It also means people are producing relentless streams of trash they call “levels.” Most of them are bad, though, and you shouldn’t play them. That’s my job! Nintendo’s tools for sorting through the garbage isn’t great, which is why, with some help from Motherboard’s Jason Koebler, I’ve spent time coming up with a list of 10 levels to load up while the kids down the street light off the leftover fireworks over the next few days.
These levels run the gamut. Some will infuriate, others will delight. A few require your brain. If you’re looking for even more stages, this level sharing thread on reddit is a great resource.
However, it’s worth noting: nothing here would be considered “kaizo,” where you need to be familiar with the kinds of advanced Mario mechanics the average player has no exposure to.
- “Claw Machine” by Lewkiss 40 (5PS-4Y1-QWF)
An example of stumbling upon a clever idea through experimentation, and then turning that accident into something bigger. That’s Mario Maker! “Claw Machine” is more difficult than you might think, and I’m so excited to see what people do with this new tool in the future. — Patrick Klepek
- “Cory's World 3: The Great Falls” by CorsyWorld (WQ1-TLK-QDG)
One of the biggest changes to Mario Maker 2 is the introduction of specific objectives that go beyond survival. In this case, players need to grab 600 (!!) coins before reaching the end of the stage. That part isn’t hard, but the execution is what grabbed me; players have to drop through a series of pipes, aka Mario skydiving, and catch what they can on the way down. — Patrick Klepek
- “Metroid Bros.” by spara57 (MS6-6LJ-VQG)
Big, sprawling levels don’t usually work in Mario Maker; the levels tend to get away from amateur designers. This one? This one works really well. Again, this uses a new tool for Mario Maker 2, the on/off switch, which allows designers to, in essence, gate off pieces parts of the stage. It’s scripting turned into a button. Here, “Samus” (aka Mario) must gather a series of power-ups to create a “suit” that allows them to access other parts of the stage. (I’d love if Nintendo started rolling out aesthetic themes, even if the mechanics stayed Mario.) — Patrick Klepek
- “Gotta Walk The Dogs” by khaki boy (P5X-D5C-HDG)
Here’s another on/off level, but one that doesn’t require players to worry too much about hardcore platforming; it’s strictly a puzzle. Still, there’s a timing and rhythm to make the puzzle work, as players (try to) guide some enemies from one part of the screen to another. Hint: If you’re having trouble dealing with two “dogs” at once, try focusing on one at a time. — Patrick Klepek
- “Goomba Juice Factory” by Mickie (5WH-8NX-6YF)
Theme levels usually run out of steam pretty quickly, but the schtick driving “Goomba Juice Factory” was gross enough that I kept going, even if the platforming wasn’t particularly notable. Every time I realized the “water” at the bottom of the screen was, in fact, the “juice” being squeezed from the goombas all over the map, I chuckled and sprinted to the right. — Patrick Klepek
- “Hazardous Pyramid Heist” by Tibsmar (H47-P78-XGG)
There is no big trick to “Hazardous Pyramid Heist,” nor will it break your fingers. You need to collect some coins, those coins are hidden in a pyramid, and it just so happens that a few nearby bombs might help you accomplish that. It’s a good level that’s pleasant to walk through, with enough “that’s clever” moments that you’ll want to follow its creator at the end. — Patrick Klepek
- “Beetle Shell Spin-out!” by Stank! (3DJ- L9D- HFF)
Stank’s one of my favorite Mario Maker creators. His levels aren’t easy, but they’re usually built around a theme—in this case, spin jumps—with a flow that just feels…right? This one is particularly brutal, especially given how much work goes into simply getting into the second area (ICE BLOCKS???), but there’s such satisfaction in pulling off the individual jumps that I’m willing to look past it. Stank feels like he’s challenging you, rather than pranking you. — Patrick Klepek
- “20 Seconds: POW Block Blitz” by bruhhhhhh (MBR-85V-N9G)
Most of the speedrun levels I’ve played so far largely rely on Mario Maker’s on/off switches, but POW Block Blitz adds a clever (and sometimes infuriating) wrinkle by making players pick up and throw POW blocks at full speed. — Jason Koebler
- “1-1.exe has encountered an error” by Oken (P1D-3Q0-TQG)
I only played the first Mario Maker for a few minutes at my brother’s house, so Mario Maker 2 is my first extended time with the series. Levels like this make me think I’m going to be playing it a lot, and for a long time. The level is a techno-dystopian glitch-art look at a Mushroom Kingdom that’s gone seriously wrong. It’s creative and showcases just how powerful Mario Maker 2 is, and best of all the level is fun as hell. — Jason Koebler
- “Table Tennis in SMM2! [HARD]” by Davii ♪ (55S-BS4-Y1G)
Table tennis levels are all over Mario Maker 2’s popular courses, but if you haven’t tried one yet, this is the best one I’ve seen so far. It’s not actually very hard, but, again, I love the creativity and I think seeing these sorts of levels so early after the game’s release means we’re going to see a lot more elaborate courses to come. — Jason Koebler