A joke WAD is a custom level or character which is made as a joke. From time to time, joke levels are submitted to the Official Level Design Contest, often to increase the number of maps or to keep a division from being empty. Mostly, joke WADs are discouraged by the community, and many users view them as annoying rather than funny. In some cases, it is hard to tell whether a WAD is merely badly designed or a joke WAD of some sort. An example of this is Wacky Wheels Shootout Zone, which was entered into the January/February 2007 OLDC. Since the user who made this map submitted several low-quality maps into this contest, many users didn't notice this level was meant as a joke.
Joke WADs may take one of several forms:
- Parodies of badly made WAD files. One of the most famous of these is HMS123311, a character WAD mocking recolors.
- Some joke WADs include deliberate bugs, look generally sloppy, or use ridiculous graphics or sounds. Examples include The Awsumest Level Zone from the September/October 2005 Level Design Contest and SRB2SBAHJ, a level pack based on the Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff webcomic.
- Some joke WADs may take the engine to ridiculous extremes, such as by including an unreasonable number of enemies in a single room or creating levels which break SRB2's limitations on purpose.
- Gimmick maps that pose humorous and unusual challenges to the players. These differ from other joke maps in the sense that they are not necessarily bad if they are balanced correctly.
- One prominent example is Not A Thokfest Zone, entered into the November/December 2009 OLDC by Mystic, which was made to mock the community's view of Race stages as "thokfests". This stage doesn't let the player jump at all, and consists completely of square platforms with springs over a pool of water that teleports the player back to the last Star Post. Not A Thokfest Zone received a score of 6.38, making it the highest rated joke level of the OLDC.
- Another example is Stupid Circuit Zone, entered into the September/October 2010 OLDC by Neo Chaotikal. This map was set in a no-gravity space setting where the ceiling had reverse gravity. This changed the physics in a number of ways: Players were allowed to walk in air without losing height, although they could only jump on solid ground. Jumping would make player float slowly to the ceiling (or the floor when in reverse gravity). The whole stage was built around huge death pits, and the objective was to find a way from platform to platform safely by exploiting the physics. Mostly because of the death pits which were considered annoying, and because spindashing would trap the players, the stage was rather poorly received, scoring a 3.00, and was dismissed by its author as a poor execution of the concept.