While much of the world has been patiently waiting for Nintendo to announce the inevitable follow-up to Super Mario Maker, the company's brilliant (but flawed) creation toolset for making and sharing custom Mario levels, others are still banging their head against it. Braden "ChainChompBraden" Moor is one of them. The twist: Moor has spent more than 1,500 hours to defeat a level he created.
In Mario Maker, you can't upload a level until you've beaten it yourself. This prevents players from uploading levels that can't be completed. It's a very clever trick. If you can't beat the level, it's deemed not worthy. Moor's stage, titled "Trials of Death," has remained undefeated since January 2016.
You can watch the most recent trailer for Trials of Death below:
I first learned about Moor's quest last September. At the time, he'd invested 385 hours. Every so often, I check on his progress. Back in March, Moor reached out to me because he was confident the end was in sight. Some of his best runs happened in late March—he'd nearly beaten the whole stage.
Several months later, Moor is still seeking victory. More than a year and a half after Trials of Death was conceived, his level continues to vex him. 1,500 hours is the equivalent to 60 full days of play.
"When I began, I knew this would be a long journey," said Moor, "but even I wasn't expecting it to turn into this long of a grind."
Moor hasn't set a deadline for himself. The goal is beating the level...eventually.
"A lot of people wonder how I have the patience for this," he said, "and one of the most helpful things is that I never go into a session thinking 'Today is going to be the day' or 'I'll have this done by this point in time.'"
His time is equally split between trying to beat the whole level at once and training inside Mario Maker's level editor. In the editor, Moor can drop Mario down into a particular section over and over, until he feels confident in passing it.
Making things more complicated is that Trials of Death isn't short. It requires using nearly every second of the eight minutes Mario Maker affords the player to beat a level, extracting a grueling level of patience and skill. During one of his runs, he nearly made it to the end, the level's second-to-last section.
"It all comes down to the final section," he said. "I only ever have to complete the ending once."
Moor's Twitch streams are unique, too. Unlike most streamers, he doesn't provide commentary. Instead, he focuses on playing, while music plays the death of a thousand Marios. He does, however, occasionally pop into chat.
"I'm always seeing people say that it's never going to happen, and that the whole thing is just hopeless. That's just an extra exciting reason for me to beat this level."
"The truth is, I'm just here to quietly do my own thing," he said. "I'm thrilled with the fact that people enjoy watching. I'm sure I'll interact more in the future, but while my upload attempts happen, it will most likely continue to just be me and my music.
Trials of Death might be defeated today, tomorrow—or a year from now. Moor is convinced it "could happen any day," but there's reason to believe it'll take a while.
"I'm always seeing people say that it's never going to happen," he said, "and that the whole thing is just hopeless. That's just an extra exciting reason for me to beat this level. I'll get to prove a bunch of people wrong. If this isn't an example of my stubbornness, then I don't know what is. Perhaps most motivating of all however, is that I simply enjoy this journey."