When you first open Super Mario Maker, a level akin to world 1-1 from the original SMB opens up for you to play.

Well, actually, today it told me that it was “Flyday” and THEN the level opened, but that’s beside the point.

However, there are some things missing from the level- some question mark blocks, pipes, mushrooms, etc. Eventually you get to a point where there’s a gigantic gap between you and the flagpole with no way to cross the distance. Once you’re greeted with this gaping pit of frustration, the game chimes in and tells you that YOU have to finish the level. It gives you a set of guidelines that help you recreate 1-1, but I decided to go in the other direction and do my own thing. I learned quite a bit in this process.

1. Level design is challenging. Not only do you have to keep coming up with new and original events to occur, but you also need enough content to keep the player satisfied.

2. You have to find the right level between “super challenging” and “extremely easy.” Make the level too hard, and it can be frustrating to the point of no longer being fun. Make it too easy, and it can be simple to the point of never being fun to begin with. You might have a level where you a koopa shell starts off a chain reaction, bounces off a spring, and then sets off a P switch forcing you to run fast enough to do a triple backflip off of Bowser, win the Dota 2 International, become a bestselling author, and stick the landing- but would people enjoy trying to complete it?


3. Most importantly though, it has to be fun altogether. You, as the creator, have to put yourself in the place of the player. While you might praise your work and think it’s the greatest thing ever, the players might not agree.

On the other hand, I also learned some things about Mario as a whole. I was never really a fan of the 2D Mario games, so I guess this is my foray into a whole new world for me.


1. Apparently shells can bounce off of springs. I learned this the hard way, but ended up using it to my advantage.

2. Jumping off of flying koopas is a lot harder than it looks.

3. You can go over the flagpole and approach it from the back.

4. You can bounce off a goomba while it’s falling down.

I also learned a bit about Mario Maker itself.

1. You don’t start out with all of the tools. Only an array that consists of bricks, blocks, question mark blocks, ground, pipes, mushrooms, coins, springs, goombas, koopas, piranha plants, and wings. You gain more over time, but I don’t know how yet. I honestly just made the level and then came here to write this.


And now, the level creating process:

I decided to be a bit of a troll with the powerup placement. Where a mushroom would normally be, I placed a goomba! MUHAHAHAHA!


I’m so evil.

I decided to make a bit of a “puzzle,” if you will.


I made it so that you need to stomp on the koopa shell to get it to knock out all 3 piranha plants, but then BAM! It bounces off of the springs and comes right back at you. What a twist!

Over here we have bit more evil trickery, with 3 question mark blocks. However, only one of them contains the mushroom, with the others containing goombas! MUHAHAHAHAHAHA!


Now comes the ending. For the extra challenge mile (because I didn’t have much space to work with), I made a flying koopa jump chain that leads to the flagpole.

You also get to test the current state of the level at any time. At one point during my test playthroughs, I came across this abomination:


“I fear no man... but that thing- it scares me.” -The Heavy, 2012

That’s all I’ve played/made so far, but I can’t wait for later on when I unlock all of the other mechanics! I eventually want to make an automated level where note blocks play to the tune of “Harder Better Faster Stronger” while you zoom by the lyrics. Share your level design experiences in the comments!


EDIT: Woohoo! My first TAY post!