For better or worse, "Super Mario Maker" has unleashed the creativity and weirdness of millions of Super Mario fans onto the world. With the world of level modding taken out of the hands of the modding community and thrust into the public, we've gotten all sorts of weird approaches to Mario game play that go way beyond the usual "run to the right and stomp on things" method.
But there's creative, and then there's just ... bizarre. These are six levels that take the traditional Mario formula and toss it aside for something completely different.
1. Waluigi's Unbearable Existence
Course ID: DAF8-0000-0027-7A46
Some of the strangest — and often most interesting — Mario Maker levels are the ones that have narrative threads. This one isn't so much a story as it is just a total psychological assassination of the miserable wretch that is Waluigi.
This stage contains such uplifting coin-written messages as "You can't succeed as yourself, Waluigi. You never could." Which wouldn't be so bad, but then the level is designed to prove it.
After running through the whole level as Waluigi, you are then asked to "Sacrifice your sense of self." The only way forward is to take a hit (thus losing the Waluigi skin and reverting to Mario).
Then it doubles down and tells you to "Embrace the enemy," right before giving you a mushroom. And then you win.
The message is clear: Waluigi is terrible, and should accept his miserable life as a stepping stone for Mario's glory. Existential terror is fun.
2. Winners Don't Do Shrooms
Course ID: 1561-0000-0017-36EA
No big deal, just turn your back on everything you've learned in 30 years of playing Mario.
In this stage, touching a mushroom means failure. Which is too bad, because the level is littered with them. They fly at you, bounce at you, come in waves. But the stage is divided by areas only a small Mario can pass through, and there are only fixed spots for enemies with which to shrink back down.
It's a total inversion of Mario logic: Avoid the power-ups and get hit by enemies to help you progress.
3. WarioWare, Inc.
Course ID: 2b43-0000-0038-3F06
Based on the microgame series of the same name, this stage gives you the Wario skin right off the bat, and then throws you into a series of miniature challenges.
The play area is extremely limited, as you're only asked to perform a single task per room, and since WarioWare games are generally about five seconds long, the tasks you're expected to perform take about as long. It isn't the longest or the most difficult stage, but it's clever and different, especially if you're a WarioWare fan.
An added nice touch is the WarioWare theme sounding off before each trial.
4. Zoo Escape (Life Finds a Way)
Course ID: 1079-0000-0023-7EE4
This one is a short level but a fun concept. The first half of Zoo Escape has you walking by enemies in enclosed "cages" (made of solid blocks).
Cross the bridge, though, and things descend into madness. Creatures are busted loose and running everywhere, explosions are happening, Thwomp is smashing through, and, of course, there's Bowser.
The level is a straight shot to the finish, and it isn't particularly difficult, but the few seconds of utter chaos you get are gloriously out of control.
5. Swim: The Musical
Course ID: 7FDE-0000-01E4-8A4A
If you don't know what's going on, this probably just seems like an impossible gauntlet of pain and suffering. Like this.
In actuality, it's a rhythm game. If you time your swimming (i.e., your button presses) with the melody of the song, you'll get through without a scratch.
That's really it. Because of the rapid scrolling of the stage, there's not even any reason to touch anything but the swim/jump button until you've cleared it.
You would think that would make it simple and easy, but the rhythm is extremely demanding. Being even a fraction of a beat off is certain death. On the bright side, a perfect run through the stage takes less than a minute and looks incredible.
6. Will You Save Your Son?
Course ID: C046-0000-003F-3825
One of the earliest examples of a "storytelling" Mario Maker level, this stage is almost as old as Mario Maker itself.
The writing may inspire memories of a certain character's dilemma from "Heavy Rain," and honestly the writing is about equally plodding, right down to the "plot twist" at the end.
Still, this is one of the earliest examples of someone taking the tools in Mario Maker and making something decidedly ... not Mario-like.
What do you think? Make sure to share these with your friends on Facebook – and let us know of any other weird stages you've played through on Super Mario Maker in the comments.