Over the past year since it released, Super Mario Maker 2 has received millions of user-generated levels. As one might imagine, this can lead to a brain overload. Where does one even start? How does one determine what's a quality level and what should be set aside? There's no easy answer for consistently finding good level quality in SMM2's growing library of stages. However, there's been one group that's been hard at work celebrating the very best of Super Mario Maker by constructing top-level stages that utilize nearly everything the game has to offer. If you see something with the label [4YMM], it probably means you're about to take part in the best thing going in Super Mario Maker 2 today.
What is 4YMM? This is an anniversary tag that has been instituted since the inception of the first Super Mario Maker on Wii U. The numbering can be confusing, but let's allow Kiavik, one of the leading forces behind 4YMM to explain.
"As the name implies, 4YMM follows 1YMM, 2YMM and 3YMM ; yearly celebrations of the game that started on the first anniversary of Mario Maker 1 on September 11th, 2016," Kiavik explained to Shacknews privately on the group's Discord. "For 4YMM, we moved the start of the project on the first anniversary of Mario Maker 2, on June 28th. So more like four years and nine months, eh eh? We even joked about it in the trailers. All of this was born out of the simple impulse to celebrate this game we all love so much."
Long-time Super Mario Maker players and different streamers in the community may recognize Kiavik's name. He's the one who created a Super Mario Bros. 3-themed level that put Mario up against a giant makeshift mech suit called Mecha Bowzilla. It made a lot of waves across both the game and YouTube, further igniting people's love for Mario Maker. For Kiavik, this meant a chance to spread the love even more and bring something positive to the series.
"After the release of the level Super Mario vs Mecha Bowzilla back in Mario Maker 1, my name made waves in the community," Kiavik added. "So I decided to use that faint fame to convince other makers to participate to this project. The goal was to push the boundaries of the game as far as we could. And [it] has essentially stayed the same throughout the years. This year is the biggest yet, 64 levels! The release of Maker 2 really opened peoples mind. The makers were either scouted by me (through Reddit, Discord, Twitch, or the game itself) or reccomended by other makers, or via auditions."
This year's efforts have led to some of the most engaging and creative Super Mario Maker 2 stages yet. They include puzzles, precision platforming, themed levels, boss rushes, and even musical stages. Some of them are brutally difficult, but there's nothing undoable or unfair about any of these levels. Some of them will put players' skills to the test, daring them to bring out their best in order to reach the flagpole.
With 64 stages, it's practically enough to fill a full Super World, though with so many cooks in the kitchen, a 4YMM world isn't in the cards for now. However, if you follow each of the eight individual weeks of official 4YMM levels, they're each enough to fill one world, so you'll have to use your imagination. Beyond that, those who pull up each level individually will be rewarded with something fun to play. Let's look at just a few examples.
Donkeymint's Freefall Fortress (049-08P-2VG) tests Mario's falling ability. It's an autoscrolling level going downwards, as Mario attempts to follow a pair of falling platforms. Players must make sure to keep up with the platforms, avoid the incoming obstacles, and clear paths while staying ahead of the scrolling screen. It's a totally different take on Bowser's airship and a strong example of a level with an intense challenge level, yet a challenge level that feels reasonable and not cheap.
Lantis' Wildflower (907-9LG-YVG) looks really easy on the surface. The goal is to finish as Fire Mario and, hey, flowers look to be plentiful here, right? Well, it turns out not so much. There's a single Fire Flower, but players must navigate the nighttime gravity in order to work out an intricate puzzle that leads the flower through a maze before Mario can collect it. The placement of different level pieces is exceptionally clever and will put players' minds to work while also reminding them how nighttime elements work.
Exonym's Displacement Activity (FBM-39Q-Y4G) puts the Super Mario Bros. 2 Mushroom to work and utilizes a different sort of puzzle element. Players must work out where to pick up objects and where to toss them in order to give them access to out-of-the-way platforms. Things get particularly hairy when it comes time to pick up a Chain Chomp and walk it over to trigger certain objects, like P Switches and POW Blocks. It's one of the most creative uses of the Super Mario Bros. 2 mechanics yet.
And lastly, let's spotlight Ren 69's Mortal Koopas (Y2T-XLV-YDF), which combines a musical level with a boss rush. After some brief autoscrolling sections, players must take on the Koopaling army. The boss rooms are creatively designed, filling the room with bullet hell-style killer objects, like icicles and fireballs. The kicker is that the level is designed to play a makeshift version of the original "Techno Syndrome" Mortal Kombat track.
These are just a few examples of the magic that these level creators are working. If you've found a 4YMM Super Mario Maker level, you've found the cream of the crop. But accept no imitations! If you want to find the official list and descriptions of the 4YMM stages, be sure to visit the Four Years of Mario Maker website. Week 6 is currently underway with only two more weeks left to go. And enjoy this effort to keep the 2019 Shacknews Game of the Year alive.