By now, everyone knows 1-1 with a Twist — the Super Mario Maker 2 level which took a Super Mario Bros classic, and turned it into a firestorm from hell. So, what is it that truly makes it so painfully difficult? Of course, there is the blatant firebar spam which is difficult to navigate, but we wanted to know if there was more than meets the eye. Welp. We put it to the test, and we found exactly what ramps up the difficulty and left the level with such a low clear rate.
Okay, to be totally honest; it wasn’t our idea. We stream over on Twitch where we accept viewer level submissions — and we finish EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. As soon as I saw 1-1 with a Twist, I knew some jerk would send it our way (I love you, Jupiter_oil… but you’re still a jerk).
One of our cruelest chatters sent in 1-1 with a Twist, along with a Panga’s DieVine level (oof).
Nonetheless, we spent 5 hours on 1-1 with a Twist, and we were able to specifically pinpoint, by far, the most infuriating and challenging single firebar in the level. I honestly had to check my own sanity a few times while dealing with this pinch point, because I wasn’t sure if it was just in my head or if I really was getting trolled by impossible patterns. But eventually, I worked out the truth.
About halfway through the level, just after where you would find a hidden 1up mushroom in the original Super Mario Bros, you have to squeeze under a clockwise spinning firebar which comes violently swooping down towards you less than a tile above the ground. You can hardly fit under it as it is… but this is where things get ugly.
The positioning of this firebar is random!
Here is an example of the firebar working at its best:
And here is an example of a time I got unlucky:
Sometimes running under the firebar will kill you. But what makes matters even worse, is that it can be salvaged! That tiny glimmer of hope that I could push through and survive anyway is almost worse than dying straight away. If you do manage to outsmart a bad firebar, you will be behind on your timing for the rest of the level. This means, not only do you have to nail extremely precise movement and dodge fire like you’re running through a burning building while soaked in gasoline, you also have to adapt your speed and catch back up without messing anything up along the way.
So what is causing this problem? Could it be RNG (a term meaning Random Number Generator, used to describe randomized variables)? Probably not.
Firebars are on global timers, meaning they begin rotating as soon as the level starts or upon entering through a pipe or door — and they continue rotating no matter where you are on the screen. Likewise, tracks are also on global timers. This specific firebar is on a track, along with a few others in the stage — yet it’s only this one which seems to cause a problem.
I was scratching my head over this for quite some time…
Afterall, I had invested 5 hours into this level, which gave me plenty of time for thinking.
My first thought was that the menacing firebar initially isn’t attached to the track, it drops in from a tile above the track, only set on the track when you come within a certain distance of it. However, the two ends of the track are closed off, removing this from the list of possibilities.
Most of the firebars in 1-1 with a Twist are static — not on tracks, and they should be without any potential variables — so, lets focus specifically on firebars which are on tracks.
Let’s take a look.
There are firebars on tracks at the beginning of the level. Because nothing can cause hidden variables to come into play the moment you spawn, of course these will be exactly the same every time.
Next, there are the tracks in about the middle of the level.
For these, we never even come remotely close to the tracked firebars… so whether they vary or not never impacted any attempts at beating this monster of a level, thus would be challenging to identify.
And finally, at the end of the stage, there are a ton of firebars on tracks, none of which seemed to change their patterns at any point.
What I did notice, is that all the other firebars on tracks near the end of the stage are in areas where your movement is steady and forced. The load in area for items not on global timers for this particular firebar, however, allows for plenty of wiggle room in your movement.
Again, firebars and tracks are not on global timers… so really it shouldn’t matter. However, the global timer is probably something worth keeping in mind for speculation. I do not know exactly the cause, but I theorize that speed at which the screen scrolls, can influence multi-variable, global timer items. Screen scroll speed may in fact have an impact the timing of tracks, when paired with another global timer — and possibly a small amount of load lag from spam levels of enemies or firebars.
That is only a theory. Either way, it appears as if randomization is at play here when it comes to that one firebar. This means two things. First, it means this level is truly going to break your spirits about half the time. Secondly, and more importantly, if we can replicate it, we have found yet another way to produce psuedo-randomization.
Imagine if a bob-omb was there to potentially be triggered when the firebar swooped lower to open up paths which otherwise may never be opened. Despite the pain and suffering I went through in 1-1 with a Twist, I see great potential for a new trick to be implemented into future levels.
And finally, of course, after pondering the possibilities while grinding out the movements (and getting lucky with the randomized firebar), I was able to beat this viewer-submitted level.
Do you have a level you want us to beat? It doesn’t have to be brutally hard. I accept levels of all types, and I love a good puzzle! Go ahead, drop a follow on the Twitch channel, and I will see your creations through to the bitter end! We’ll see you there!