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Our 5 favorite Super Mario Maker levels so far, including a shmup and 'vertical bowling'

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Super Mario Maker has only been in the hands of a limited number of media folks and critics for a short while ahead of its Sept. 11 launch, but already, some really fascinating stages have been uploaded. There's some challenging, classic platforming levels and plenty of grueling, Kaizo-level torture zones available to dig into — but there's also more clever fare from folks who've used Super Mario Maker's tools in some unconventional ways.

Here's our five favorite levels we've played in Super Mario Maker so far.

Enjoy Mr. Blue Bones' Wild Ride by ProJared

Not many folks have messed around with the concept of an auto-playing Super Mario Maker stage (namely because they're really hard to make), but YouTuber ProJared's level shows why the concept has so much promise. There are a few hair-raising moments in the level, all accentuated by the fact that if you move a pixel, you're dead meat.

The Riddler: Prologue by Nefarius

Some of our favorite levels in Super Mario Maker have been the ones that don't require skill to complete, but rather, logic. The Riddler: Prologue by Nefarious actually requires a lot of both — figuring out how to beat the level will take some doing, and actually being able to execute its perfect jumps and shell kicks takes a lot of practice. It's like a puzzle that repeatedly tries to kill you.

Vertical Bowling by Dalagonash

Dalagonash has whipped up some really great levels, but our favorite is Vertical Bowling, largely because of how it kind of actually resembles bowling. By picking up and kicking enemies into the air, you try to take out as many overhead foes as you can under a super short time limit. It's also got its own scoring rubric at the end, to let you know what a superior Goomba kicker you are.

Super Shmup Bros. by Andre GX

By combining an autoscrolling level, a flying machine and a Fire Flower, Andre DX has replicated the shoot-em-up genre with surprising accuracy. The waves of spike-launching enemies can turn the level into a bullet hellish experience if you don't take them out quick enough, and then you have to contend with a final fight that I still don't think I understand.

Winners don't do shrooms by Kocobe

This is our absolute favorite level so far, and it's all because of how it makes something so desirable in the Mario franchise — the humble Super Mushroom — and makes it something awful. At the halfway point and ending of this level are tight passages that only a small Mario can get through; if you touch a shroom at any point, you'll have to return to the Piranha Plant "checkpoint" to return to the correct size before you can move on. It's genius.

The next level of puzzles.

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