Everything about this image stresses me out, and it’s so much worse in motion:
The seemingly endless spikey enemies quietly going about their business, indifferent to Mario’s sudden presence. How the endless symmetry of every object takes on a creepy, cult-like quality when laid out so brazenly. Even the stars, a background I’ve seen in a million stages, become a distraction from the work of what, at the end of the day, is a very easy series of jumps. It’s the way it all adds up that makes me want to set the controller down.
I’ve been thinking about this stage (The Pain Lattice // 74P-FVP-BCG) ever since I scrolled across a tweet with an image from this nightmare, courtesy of Mario Maker 2 creator gdd1.
The level isn’t a big deal, if you’re able to look past the aggressive imagery; like I said, it’s just a series of small, manageable jumps in pursuit of four coins.
Difficulty in Mario Maker comes in all sizes, though, and not every “tough” stage is born out of the popular tactic of forcing players to deploy advanced Mario techniques (aka “kaizo”) that aren’t even covered in the instruction manual.
gdd1 is a creator worth following on Mario Maker, too; I went through their other stages a devilish mixture of creativity and exploitation of various new tricks up Mario Maker 2’s sleeve.
There’s one (Making It Rain...bow) where gdd1 immediately deploys a similar disarming tactic through visuals, making players navigate a mountain of odd-sized rainbow platforms as a steady stream of bullet bills make their way across the screen. Both stages traffic in patience, pressing players to take a deep breath, and realize the chaos isn’t so chaotic.
Unlike The Pain Lattice, however, this one concludes with a gut punch, asking players to patiently navigate a slowly moving platform while homing enemies slowly increase over time:
It’s a real pain in the butt. (In other words: it’s great.)
The other stages are a mixed bag—a stage (Thwomp Ascent // VK4-35J-5H5) where you guide Yoshi through a gauntlet of thwomps was on the wrong side of pain in the butt—but there are some serious highlights, including one stage (Tilted Moving Platforms // PPG-93L-2QF) focused on a new tool, the seesaw, as you try to survive sooo many spikes:
I love you, Mario Maker. I hate you, Mario Maker. That’s the dance.
Follow Patrick on Twitter. If you've noticed anything interesting happening in Mario Maker, reach out at email@example.com. He's also available privately on Signal. Mario Maker Mornings will return.
This article originally appeared on VICE US.