It’s 2021 and Kaizo Mario is hotter than ever.
From its humble beginnings in 2007 as a brutally difficult series of Super Mario World romhacks by someone known online as T. Takemoto, Kaizo has exploded into both a challenging platformer subgenre and a spectator sport. With a number of (relatively) high-profile recent releases like Super Hark Bros. 2, Akogare 2, and Riff World 2 making an impact and a plethora of under-the-radar stuff to try, there’s a little something for everyone in the world of difficult, precise Super Mario World romhacks.
But if you want to play the future of the genre, the Kaizo Level Design Contest is the place to be. This yearly competition tasks creators with making the most innovative or diabolical Kaizo level they can muster. Submissions are judged based on level design quality, creativity, and aesthetics. KLDC has often been where creators push the envelope, and this year was no exception. Evaluated by several prominent members of the Kaizo community, this year’s levels have been judged and the results are in. Here are the top ten entries from KLDC 2021.