Super Mario Maker’s “final boss” was a fraud all along


When good robots fall into the wrong hands, bad things can happen...

When good robots fall into the wrong hands, bad things can happen…

Aurich Lawson | Nintendo

The Super Mario Maker community and “Team 0%” have declared victory in their years-long effort to clear every user-submitted level in the original Wii U game before the servers shut off for good on April 8. That victory declaration comes despite the fact that no human player has yet to clear “Trimming the Herbs” (TTH), the ultra-hard level that gained notoriety this month as what was thought to be the final “uncleared” level in the game.

This strange confluence of events is the result of an admission by Ahoyo, the creator of Trimming the Herbs, who came clean Friday evening regarding his use of automated, tool-assisted speedrun (TAS) methods in creating the level. That means he was able to use superhuman capabilities like slow-motion, rewinding, and frame advance to pre-record the precise set of perfectly timed inputs needed to craft the “creator clear” that was necessary to upload the level in the first place.

Ahoyo’s video of a “creator clear” for Trimming the Herbs, which he now admits was created using TAS methods.

“I’m sorry for the drama [my level] caused within the community, and I regret the ordeal,” Ahoyo wrote on the Team 0% Discord and social media. “But at least it was interesting. However in the end the truth matters most. Congratulations to Team 0% for their well-earned achievement!”

While Team 0% members expressed relief at finally reaching the end of their quest, there was also a sense of deflation among the team over the way their final achievement played out. “We accomplished the goal we’ve had for over six years, but it almost doesn’t feel exciting to me,” Team 0% administrator Black60Dragon told Ars Technica. “Instead it’s just clouded with drama. So it’s bittersweet.”

Years of hidden fraud

The TAS-based fraud behind Trimming the Herbs’ creation dates back to August 2017, when creator Ahoyo started a level design contest called PogChamp (named after the now-removed but then-popular Twitch emote). The contest was designed “to see who could make the coolest Mario Maker tricks,” Ahoyo said in the contest’s intro video. Ahoyo added that the contest was “anything goes” and that creators would need to “try to push the limits” of the game, two statements that seem a bit ironic now that the truth about TTH’s TAS-based creation has come to light.

Trimming the Herbs creator Ahoyo announces the contest where the level would make its debut.

Later that month, Ahoyo was also one of the judges during the PogChamp contest finals, where level submissions were evaluated on a Twitch livesteam in the categories of flow, uniqueness, and difficulty. Trimming the Herbs was the only level showcased in the “difficulty” category, with judges calling the level “stupid hard” and noting that it required “an insane level of precision” to complete so many frame-perfect bomb throws and catches in a row.

Only after a few minutes of this collective gawking among the judges did Ahoyo admit under questioning, “I did make this level. I apologize. I entered my own contest.” And after some slight discussion of whether or not the community would accept a judge entering his own contest, Ahoyo gladly accepted disqualification on a separate technicality: The level takes 12 seconds to complete despite the rules restricting submissions to a maximum of 10 seconds.

Nowhere during the livestreamed level viewing does Ahoyo admit that Trimming the Herbs was created with automated tools, even though it would have been the perfect opportunity to reveal that particular bit of trolling.


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