According to Nintendo, players have uploaded over 5 million courses to Super Mario Maker 2. A lot of these courses don’t really stack up. While the popular section can lead to some good times, a lot of great courses get buried each week in the sea of uploads.
Each of these ten hand-picked courses were uploaded this week by eager Mario Maker designers. And while none of them have appeared in the popular section of the site, each one is well worth playing.
SMBRemix 1-3 by Leyton90
FR8-JWT-NRFTheme: Super Mario Bros
This course won’t challenge anyone. It feels like an early underground stage from the first Super Mario Bros game. But it has a welcome cohesion that most Mario Maker stages don’t have.
The course starts with some good foreshadowing. It has an open space with a pipe and some clouds above. The clouds don’t lead anywhere incredibly special but it serves as a nice outdoor sneak peak of what the player will encounter underground.
Once underground the player has to climb to the top. The course has some width and hides little secrets on each end. With spiked enemies circling each ledge and the vertical nature, it almost feels like a Metroid stage.
Cemitery by Sora10
C8H-TL5-D9GTheme: Super Mario Bros. 3
This short course has a consistent theme that features a spooky graveyard with ghosts hovering around and creepy piranha plants. Sora10 uses blocks to create cross-shaped gravestones and surrounds them with the ghosts and plants. The level feels spooky and creates some interesting platforming challenges.
Past the intro, the course ramps up the challenge. The player has to cross a fiery bridge and then jump through a ghost loop onto another grave stone. Luckily a well-placed checkpoint gives the player the opportunity to try the tricky jump a few times.
The course ends underwater, with a creepy dark dive that has the player navigating a field of skeletal fish. The course might not impress as much as some of the top contenders, but it has a consistent design, and that goes a long way.
The World of Plants: Rainbows 2 by MattLapou
C8M-5HY-SLGTheme: Super Mario World
This course by MattLapou shows that you can make a course about collecting coins fun. Usually, the collect-a-thon style Mario Maker courses feel like excess. They often have a kitchen sink approach coupled with a lack of challenge that makes them kind of boring. Not this one, though.
When you first enter the course, the high coin requirement to finish might seem off-putting. However, through some fun design and some clever use of traversal, this course stays interesting all of the way up to the 380th coin. Coins are plentiful, so the game never becomes a frustrating coin hunt. Pick them up casually as you go and you’ll do fine.
The course also features some secret areas with key coins to collect. These add an extra level of intrigue which might incentivize players to return after they complete the stage.
Mushroom Madness by Benny 728
P3L-FGG-L0HTheme: Super Mario Bros. 3
This one might cause some frustration, but success always feels just within reach. This course pushes players a little further with each run, and just when they might feel compelled to give up, the course ends.
With some tricky jumps and only a tiny bit of trolling, the short nature lets the player memorize all of the tricks in order to eventually succeed.
Burner Course by Koki & Miki
3LX-LMV-JWGTheme: New Super Mario Bros
Upon first entry, this strange stage looks like it might end up trolling the player with cheap tricks and weird challenges. However, despite a so-so visual presentation, it features some fun challenges and tight design.
Each play-through pushes the player a little closer to the end, and the course breaks each of it’s difficult chunks into little digestible sections. The course has no checkpoints, so it has to be defeated in one go, but the three act structure makes it feel approachable.
It might not be much to look at, but it presents and interesting challenge for the seasoned Mario player.
Podoboo Palace by rad chan
H63-LMN-J2GTheme: Super Mario World
This gauntlet will push players to their limit but keep them coming back for more.
The Podoboo Palace presents its challenges one at a time, and they ramp up nicely. It takes place inside a castle, and has all of the typical features: lava, fireballs, Thwomps. Notably, the course requires a slow and patient approach. Players who usually hold down the run button might find themselves easing up here.
While not for the faint of heart, this course feels like an intricately designed gauntlet, and Mario players who like a challenge will find a lot to sink their teeth into.
Bowser Junior’s POWster horse by hOtGaRbAgE
H6R-LJC-R8GTheme: Super Mario World
This level presents a really unique puzzle design concept that builds on itself throughout. The puzzles involve using POW Blocks as platforms inside tornados. The player must jump on top of them without hitting them from below.
What makes this level special is the fantastic on-boarding. The first section gives the player a platforming challenge that features future puzzle elements. Once the player gets to the next room, they will see those same elements, although this time disconnected from each other. They know then to combine them to move on, and the puzzles build from there.
This level does have one major issue in that it doesn’t have any hazards until midway through. The tough hazard comes before any checkpoint, and if the player fails, they have to do the level over again. This cheapens the experience a bit, and ultimately makes the level difficult to complete. It’s still worth including, however, thanks some tight puzzle design.
classic castle by lambat54
1M9-NMX-N5GTheme: Super Mario Bros
This very short course will take most players quite a while to push through. The course features two difficult sections divided by a checkpoint.
The first section asks the player to make some tough jumps around a group of those dreaded rotating fire bars. The section requires tight control of Mario and some memorization from the player. It then leads into some dastardly Bullet Bills, and the course ramps up from there.
Each play through will get the player one step closer to finishing. This course gives off that “one more try” feeling that all good platformer levels seek to provide.
Twisted Mansion by AdrianMed
PF5-NX5-MSFTheme: Super Mario Bros 3
A typical Mario ghost house sets out to use hidden doors and tricky platforming to create a sense of confusion and dread in the player. They want to make the player feel lost. Most of them, however, end up feeling frustrating.
This unique take on the ghost house does these things in a new way that eliminates the frustration. The brilliantly designed level uses one-way traps and floating doors to guide the player, but at the same time uses look-alike rooms that tweak only enough things to allow the player to progress. This creates an off-putting sense of dejá-vu and adds to the spookiness of the course.
The level presents a puzzle that might take a few tries to navigate, but never feels like a chore. The player must learn the twists and turns of the ghost house but somehow never feels frustrated.
The Mine is Yours by McJosh
M0K-KLQ-5BGTheme: Super Mario World
COURSE OF THE WEEK
This small adventure deserves a medal. It perfectly sits in that sweet spot between cohesive layout and expert design.
The beautiful course sees the player navigating a winding mine, complete with the twists, turns, and surprises that come with any great Mario course. The theme comes together so well that it at times feels like a different SNES-era game entirely. Each enemy matches the theme, from the gophers to the skeletal turtles, and the course truly feels like navigating a dangerous mine.
One inspired choice features Bullet Bills buried under ground that create frequent explosions to shake the whole screen and add to the atmosphere.
Players might have to play through it twice as the course runs almost all of Mario Maker’s 500 second limit. But if the clock doest run out during a playthrough, it’s worth picking it up once more and seeing it through to the end.
Super Mario Maker 2 is out now on Switch.