Sometimes, good guys lose. That’s what happened on Sunday; I was unable to beat the latest stage from Giant Bomb’s Dan Ryckert: The Armageddan. I was close—a few times, very close—but in the end, despite my facial hair on the line, I lost.

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There are Mario Maker levels, and there are Ryckert’s Mario Maker levels.

Ever since I beat Giant Bomb’s community collaboration, The Giant Bomb Level, we’ve been locked in an eternal feud. Ryckert makes a level, and I beat his level.

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This resulted in a trilogy of design nightmares that Miyamoto would weep over:

As I’ve outlined before in articles, Ryckert’s stages are not for the timid; each requires a serious amount of time, dedication, and effort to deduce the endless puzzles and pull off the platforming sequences. I’ve probably put the same amount of time into each Ryckert stage than it takes to beat the average video game campaign. All told, I’ve likely played Ryckert’s stages for dozens of hours.

(Side note: I’m not allowed to use the editor to determine possible solutions or practice sections of the level. This makes my task much, much harder.)

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The Armageddan was the end game. Privately, we were both exhausted from the ongoing competition. For as long as it takes me to beat the stages, it takes Ryckert just as long to build them. For both our sakes, this had to end.

We managed to raise more than $10,000 for charity by putting a time limit on The Ryckoning, but I had no such restrictions for The Klepocalypse or The Armagaeddan. Though The Klepocalypse was frustrating, I eventually grinded out the solution and made it to the end. This would have happened with The Armageddan, too, were it not for a fateful tweet I sent out on New Years Eve.

The stakes could not be higher.

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If Dan won (aka I couldn’t beat it), I had to buy tickets to a WWE event in the future and write a hand-written book report about it.

If I won, Dan had to eat a series of meals based on his most hated foods. (Dan is a food baby who is afraid of things like mayo.)

Like most people, I had plans on New Years Eve, and if I wanted to keep my marriage intact, those plans needed to stay in place. Despite several hours of streaming the level—and good progress in deducing it—I wasn’t able to beat it.

Technically, I lost the bet. Technically, by going out on New Years Eve, I’d given up the remaining hours I could use to play the level: four hours and 42 minutes.

In a hail mary, I proposed that I be allowed to use the remaining time to try and beat the level on a different day. In exchange, the stakes were raised again.

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If Dan won (aka I couldn’t beat it), I would have to buy Dan and myself tickets to a WWE event in the future, write a 10-page book report about it, and allow a WWE wrestler to shave my facial hair.

If I won...well, I just got to say I beat the level.

And so, it was on.

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On Sunday night, I booted up Twitch and began my final descent into hell.

The level was within my grasp. I’d figured out everything you needed to do, but that’s only half the battle. The doing is just as difficult as the knowing, and while I came incredibly close several different times, it simply wasn’t enough.

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With the timer running down, my four hours and 42 minutes sipping away, I made a desperate run. The last few times, I’d managed to make it through one of the game’s most challenging gauntlets, but I didn’t have the timing down yet.

So, this is how it The Armageddan ended:

So close, yet so far.

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This is how the whole level is supposed to play out:

Ridiculous, right?

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Though Ryckert won, I have beaten two of his levels, so the record is 2-1*. Some awesome folks are even raising money to have a Mario Maker speedrun level during Awesome Games Done Quick Stage named after me—The Kleptastrophe.

In the meantime, I’m gonna take a deep breath.

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I’ll be back.

Image Credit: moon doggo

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You can reach the author of this post at patrick.klepek@kotaku.com or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.