No longer content terrorizing just one player at a time, Super Mario Maker 2 “kaizo” level creator PangaeaPanga has created an intense, co-op level that asks two players to perform some of the hardest tricks I’ve seen in a Mario Maker course.
The course, “Hit Me Up,” is so hard, in fact, that it took Panga and co-creator TonesBalones, both of whom are quite experienced in the mechanics of difficult Mario platforming, over six hours to complete.
Panga’s name has long struck a combination of awe and fear in the hearts of Mario players, thanks to his work on difficult kaizo ROM hacks like Super Dram World and, now, Mario Maker levels. In Japanese, kaizou just means “reorganized” or “restructured.” When it first entered gamer parlance with the notoriously difficult ROM hack Kaizo Mario World, it took on the meaning of “ridiculously difficult.” As such, the kaizo label is now used to refer to custom levels that must be completed using high-level techniques that aren’t required in official Mario games.
During a recent live stream, Panga and TonesBalones showed off “PePanga Bros.: Hit Me Up,” their attempt at a co-op kaizo level in Mario Maker 2. Where other kaizo levels are generally designed for one player at a time, Hit Me Up asks two players to coordinate their movements to navigate a tricky level full of perilous obstacles, all while keeping their Spiny helmets intact. No damage boosting, no dying, just a straight shot through one of the hardest Mario Maker levels I’ve ever seen.
Hit Me Up’s design is impeccable from the start. Upon loading the level, it checks to see how many players are playing with a contraption that operates differently depending on the number of participants. If just one player enters the level, the mechanism spawns a single mushroom that simply falls off the screen, leaving the way open to a door that leads to a simpler, but still pretty hard, single-player level. (Panga had to include this because the uploading process allows just one to finish the course and it would have been impossible for a solo player to handle what comes next.)
But if two or more players are present, additional mushrooms spawn from the contraption, activating a bomb that provides a platform to the co-op level. Then the real fun starts.
Hit Me Up separates the players into upper and lower paths. From here, the core conceit of the level—not to mention where it gets its name—becomes clear. The lower player must bounce off a shell in such a way that they are also able to boost the upper player to the next section of their route. This is where most players without extensive experience in kaizo mechanics will probably fail.
In the next section, the players must pass shells between one another to bypass rows of spikes. Up until then, the stage is relatively simple, but it soon becomes an elaborate dance, with both players responsible for giving the other opportunities—by throwing a crucial item their way, hitting a music block to drop an enemy, or simply boosting them with their own bodies—to continue on their dangerous paths.
The most visually satisfying part of Hit Me Up involves a section where the player on the upper path must release a Yoshi, land on its back, jump off so that the player below can make use of the same rideable dinosaur, and then do the whole thing a second time, all with a giant pit and fireball threatening to punish even the smallest mistake. From there, all it takes is another series of precise jumps, shell throws, and switch-hitting to finish the level.
Upon finally completing this devious course, Panga and TonesBalones were obviously ecstatic, and the chat naturally exploded with messages of congratulations.
Hit Me Up is more proof of the Mario Maker 2 community’s boundless creativity and tolerance for pain. By combining their knowledge of the engine and tools, Panga and TonesBalones were able to create an amazing level that barely anyone will be able to finish. Those who do challenge Hit Me Up, however, will be treated to one of the more unique experiences to come out of Mario Maker 2 since it launched earlier this year. It also seems like a great way to ruin a friendship, so be careful.