Team 0% Accomplishes Their Impossible Mission

How a community united to conquer the ultimate challenge: clearing all the levels of Super Mario Maker

Team 0% Accomplishes Their Impossible Mission
Designed by Snoozbuster (Alex). Source: issmmbeatenyet / Team 0%.

Hyperbole and the gaming community go hand in hand. It is a big part of our culture, intentional or not. Over-the-top game ads from the '90s boasted that an upcoming game was the most brain-exploding, face-melting, hair-on-fire experience ever designed. Caricatures of gamers sit within basements, sipping Rolling Rock and ranting about how bad a game is (then assault Bugs Bunny). Even in-game characters wax poetic about how a gun first designed in 1872 is the superior choice to a legendary mercenary carrying an assault rifle and four types of grenades.

If the tales developers tell us through video games are tall, then the tales we tell about games themselves are skyscrapers by comparison. We love our video games and we love even more to exaggerate about them in either direction.

One way this manifests is by assessing the difficulty of challenge in a video game. A perfect example is Super Mario Maker. Nintendo made it possible for Wii U owners to create, test, and share their self-made levels on Nintendo servers starting September 10, 2015. This game frankly took the Nintendo world by storm, becoming an overnight sensation.

Now, anyone can become a hobbyist game developer and create their own 2D platforming Mario game, regardless of its length, inspiration, or difficulty level. Combined with the increasing accessibility of content creation on platforms like YouTube or Twitch, Nintendo’s taking the world by storm turned into a perfect storm of hyperbolic online content creation.

Not too long ago, it seemed impossible (more hyperbole!) to escape the flood of YouTube videos related to Super Mario Maker with exaggerated titles like “THE LEVEL THAT BROKE ME!!!!” or “HOW DID THIS GET MADE!?!?!?” or “IS THIS TRULY AN IMPOSSIBLE LEVEL???” These were, of course, accompanied by the now-infamous generic YouTube video thumbnail of a screen capture of Super Mario Maker with a headshot of the video owner making a face of exaggerated pain, shock, or sadness.

Super Mario Maker for the Wii U reflected a time when our hyperbolic tendencies as gamers soared to an all-time high.

While not every level uploaded to the Super Mario Maker servers was a teeth-gnashing experience, there certainly were plenty to choose from. Watch any of these videos and you will see players struggle against a single level, banging their heads into a virtual wall for tens of hours, throwing hundreds if not thousands of attempts to clear a single level. The line between thespian frustration and sincere agony became blurred, and boy did viewers eat it up. Many content creation careers on YouTube and Twitch found their beginning in the Super Mario Maker phenomenon.

If the tales developers tell us through video games are tall, then the tales we tell about games themselves are skyscrapers by comparison.

Viewers flocked to watch skilled players complete challenging levels. There were weekly competitions where participants raced to complete a series of curated levels. An entire ecosystem formed where notable players would wait for notable designers to upload a new level, then race to be the first one to clear it or hold the world record for fastest completion. Honestly, it was an exciting period for Nintendo fans, and for once, that is not hyperbole. Like all fads, though, they eventually peter out. New things come and people go, leaving behind only the most dedicated of fans — those not ready to move on. Reasons for this obviously can vary, with one of them being a sense of unfinished business.

Among the groups of people in this story are the heroes, Team 0%. On December 24, 2017, Mario Maker player Jeffie formed Team 0%, a collective of Super Mario Maker players dedicated to completing all uncleared levels in the game’s catalog. Despite most of the community moving on and the release of Super Mario Maker 2 on the Nintendo Switch, Team 0% remained dedicated to conquering all levels, regardless of difficulty.

According to a team member, Cryptan, there are 10,562,896 total levels in the Super Mario Maker catalog. At the time of its founding, there were 84,880 uncleared levels remaining. By this point, the rate of level uploads had drastically slowed down. The release of Maker 2 on June 28, 2019, helped curb the output of new levels, allowing Team 0% the chance to surpass the rate of level uploads. The team was relatively small, estimated at 20 players, each clearing hundreds of levels, some even clearing thousands.

On March 31, 2021, the Super Mario Maker servers disabled the ability to upload levels. Knowing that the finish line could no longer be moved any further, Team 0% breathed a little easier, with a definite end point now in sight.

The team determined that 47,871 levels were still uncleared, and they were ready to complete their objective at their own pace. At the beginning of October 2023, they were down to about half that previous total: 26,887. Using data they maintained, Team 0% estimated they would finish their goal around May 2024, a little over half a year.

An official announcement from Nintendo, however, would see their casual stroll to completion turn into a very real deadline with something to lose.

On October 4, 2023, Nintendo announced that they would be discontinuing “online play and other functionality that uses online communication.... for [the] Nintendo 3DS and Wii U software" on April 8, 2024, at 4 PM PDT.

Team 0% had always been a thing even prior to Nintendo announcing the impending Wii U server shutdown. It was one of several teams formed as part of the community-driven Makers Teams idea. The idea is that teams were formed around level themes, individual assets, or level design archetypes (speedrun, troll, precision, etc).

Logically, as Team 0% whittled the remaining uncleared levels, the hardest of the hard levels showed themselves. These levels, whether by carefully thought out design or pure unbridled chaos, were the ones that threw off the team’s momentum. They acted as challenges that could potentially prevent them from finishing their goal on schedule.

It’s one thing to complete a task at your own pace; it’s another feat to do it under a strict time crunch. This is especially true when that task involves many instances of having to deal with insanity such as this:

This compilation highlights how not all difficult levels are similar. There is a wide range of skills players develop in response to the unique challenges faced. Source: KingBoo97.

While Team 0% consisted of players both skilled at the game and committed to their task, it would take more than a small team of highly skilled diehards to accomplish their goal.

Thankfully, a community member by the name of TheRileyC published a short YouTube video focused on bringing attention to the impending shutdown in October 2023. Here he briefly summarized the situation Nintendo’s announcement created and punctuated it with a call to action, encouraging all to return to Super Mario Maker and help clear levels. Community admin and moderators, including team founder Jeffie, all strongly agreed that TheRileyC’s call to action video helped to bolster Team 0%’s numbers, allowing them to throw more bodies at the remaining catalog. Over the course of a few months, they would see their membership swell from around 3,000 to 11,000. What this essentially did was get the band back together.

As I mentioned, Super Mario Maker absolutely took off in the Nintendo world. In the first three weeks after launch, Super Mario Maker sold a quarter million copies in Japan and nearly half a million copies in the United States. By 2021, the worldwide sales had reached 4 million.

Super Mario Maker is the 7th best selling title for the Nintendo Wii U. Source: Nintendo.

After the call to action from TheRileyC, Team 0% would have their Avengers: Endgame reunion moment with many of their heavy hitters and skilled players returning to settle unfinished business. From that point on, Team 0% would see their progress explode. They raced through levels at breakneck speed, staying well ahead of a previously established pace that had to be maintained in order to finish on time. A veritable army of players threw themselves at the remaining level catalog, carving huge chunks out of the workload. The effort to clear the remaining levels was impressive, but it was the teamwork involved in their effort that is truly the stuff of legends.

Not every Super Mario Maker level is the same. The range of tools Nintendo provided to creators allowed for an enormous range of set pieces, level archetypes, and skills needed to finish them.

Players regularly communicated with each other, collaborating on how to solve challenging setups. They would also recommend levels to other players if they felt said level was in their skill set. Team members maintained a list of specific bugs and glitches that were patched out over time. This allowed players to identify the difference between levels that were hyperbolically impossible and levels that were irrefutably impossible. A data-focused support team helped streamline in-game efforts. This support team, consisting of immaculate data analysts, provided daily updates on the number of remaining levels, set a clear target for each day, and tracked the number of levels that were beaten.

Much of the data on Super Mario Maker’s catalog was collected and organized by PiGuy10, TheCryptan, and The0Dark0one. These three compiled the data into spreadsheets and utilized this information to develop a Discord bot. This bot gave players the ability to input a command and a level code that would mark the level as complete.

Not every Super Mario Maker level is the same. The range of tools Nintendo provided to creators allowed for an enormous range of set pieces, level archetypes, and skills needed to finish them.

Snoozbuster took the data further and designed a comprehensive website (, which presented the overall big picture in a detailed but easy-to-read format. It displayed the total completion rate, level count (it even broke that down by various characteristics such as theme, archetype, or country of origin), and progress made on any given single day or week. The master data spreadsheet can also be accessed from this site, which allows players to use filters to hunt down a specific level they felt would be in their wheelhouse and minimize wasted effort.

Frankly, as someone whose day job is data science, seeing this absolute clinic on data science fundamentals from the “Team 0% IT Crowd”, as they were called, makes me weep tears of joy.

With their ranks bolstered by a massive influx of players and equipped with the tools to laser focus their efforts, Team 0% made rapid progress on the catalog of remaining levels in short order. The highest number of clears they achieved was during the week of October 9, 2023, when TheRileyC made his call to action, with an impressive 2,547 clears. From that point forward, Team 0% met their weekly quota of clears (and then some) every single week up to completion.

The top 5 most accomplished players in terms of clear count, lowest to highest, were Team0PercentSMM1, l.oufnhu32, gravityrad, LeLe521, and SchwozW6803. SchwozW6803 alone cleared 4,736 of the remaining levels.

Having such a large number of players at Team 0%’s disposal, it is impossible to celebrate every single notable player or level-clear in just this one article. In interviewing members of the community and trying to collect their stories, the sheer volume of tales honestly overwhelmed me. It felt impossible to keep up with story after story that everyone eagerly wanted to share.

Paradise Plaza was one of the most frequently mentioned levels in the interviews I conducted. This level demands two straight minutes of precise timing and optimized movement. KingBoo97, an accomplished player with many notable clears under their belt, was responsible for taking down this level.

Another challenge, the Most Hardest Vine Mash level, required GravityRad to place a power tool between his fingers in order to perform the inhuman amount of button mashing required to beat what was otherwise simple in design but insanely difficult in practice. Arguably more outstanding than the clear itself is the god-like pop-off at the end that captures just how much heart and soul Team 0% put into playing this game.

Witnessing a level that deeply inspired him, SweatyPiranha went all out and bought Super Mario Maker and a Wii U just to play it. The level in question, The Hardest Muncher Stairs, is a Super Mario World-themed water level notorious for its length, required precision, and tedium all in equal measure. Even more notable is that this is SweatyPirahna’s only Super Mario Maker clear. He just wanted to play this single level!

Not every level required extreme skill to clear, however. With Lucky Draw, there was nothing players could do except watch Mario be scooted along on a rail and hope that they get the outcome, with a 1 in 7.5 million chance of happening that would allow them to clear the level.

By March 15, 2024, one level remained, "Trimming the Herbs". Commonly referred to by the community as “TTH,” this level was extremely challenging, even by the standards of everything Team 0% had seen so far.

After a full week of attempts by the entire community with no clear, the level creator revealed that they had uploaded the level to the Wii U servers using third-party tools that allowed them to automate their playthrough of the level with precise, programmed inputs. Colloquially called TAS or “tool-assisted speedrun,” the level designer could play the game at the level of skill that theoretically is possible but is extremely unlikely to happen in real life. Team 0% deemed "Trimming the Herbs" as a hacked level and removed the level from their workload, retroactively declaring the mission accomplished.

Seven years after its founding, Team 0% could say that Super Mario Maker was complete. Source: Team 0% Discord Server.

The final Super Mario Maker level, ironically called The Last Dance, was cleared by Yamada_SMM2 on March 15, 2024, at 3:12 PM Eastern Time. Still, there are members in the community who are determined to clear "Trimming the Herbs" before the shutdown is officially implemented.

Update: The impossible has been made possible. On April 5th, 2024, Trimming the Herbs was legitimately cleared by Sanyx91SMM2.

This, however, is not the end of the story for Team 0%. With the entire Super Mario Maker catalog cleared, they are now free to put all of their resources and people into their second quest: doing the same with Super Mario Maker 2. Progress for that catalog is well underway and, much like TheRileyC, I highly encourage everyone to fire up Super Mario Maker 2 and help with the effort. In between writing this article, I have even dusted off my copy and cleared a few levels myself. The Team 0% discord server can be joined here.

"It's about giving a proper send-off to a game that gave me so much. Whether that be friendships or the desire to make content or the feeling of being a competitive player. I absolutely love this game and what has brought to me. It means a lot to me. It's really nice to give the first iteration a proper goodbye."

- TheRileyC, answering "What does Team 0%'s mean to you?"

Super Mario Maker is a game that took the Nintendo world by storm. Owners of the game were not simply players as they had been in previous Mario games. They now could take on the role of both creator and developer, two sides of the coin. Dig deep into the catalog and you could see a beautiful ecosystem of give and take between creator and player — each pushing the other to go as far as they could go with that side of the coin. At times, they even pushed the maker tools themselves to their furthest limits. With Super Mario Maker, fans could unleash their creativity and pay homage to beloved 2D Mario platformers.

By daring to dig deep, Team 0% promised that every level that could legitimately be cleared would have its moment in the spotlight. I find it similar to when street art is power washed off the side of a building. It may not have made it into any official museum, but it is still a creative work, a product of love and skill. By making it their mission to clear every level, they gave the game its flowers before its catalog of 10,562,896 levels were gone for good.

Congratulations to Team 0% on your once-in-a-lifetime achievement and good luck with Super Mario Maker 2!

Even though Super Mario Maker may be completely cleared, they have already started their second quest with the catalog of Super Mario Maker 2. Source: Author.


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