Everything you need to know about Super Mario Maker

A comprehensive guide for Super Mario Maker in one place.

Super Mario Maker is the latest exclusive title for Nintendo’s Wii U with an official release date of September 11, 2015. This is the game all Mario fans have been anticipating for a very long time. Many say this is the true console seller and it should have been released with the launch of Wii U back in 2012. Anyway, here it is and we can’t wait to play it.


Last year’s E3 conference presented the then titled Mario Maker – a level creation video game based on previous Mario titles. It was immediately compared to Mario Paint, a classic drawing utility released way back in 1992 for SNES consoles. But Mario Maker, later renamed as Super Mario Maker at this year’s E3, is at a completely different level. The vast amount of tools and creative decisions players can make in the game is outstanding.

The community has been very well versed in the level building of Mario games since the introduction of the so-called Mario hacks. But this required certain advanced skills, so it couldn’t be used by anyone. The creators of Mario games were well aware of this situation and came up with an idea to open their own level-designing tool to the masses, which is extremely comfortable to use. As a result, now we can enjoy an almost never ending Mario game that never gets boring.

Before we all jump into our wildest creative modes here’s a guide to everything you should know about Super Mario Maker.

Visual Styles

Currently, you can create your levels in the boundaries of four major game styles resembling the previous 2D Mario titles:

  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Super Mario World
  • New Super Mario Bros. U

One level may contain all of these environments, however, letting Mario run through the course, for example, beginning with NES and SNES styles and finishing with the slick and polished HD style and vice versa, by simply using pipes between these different sections. However, different worlds follow different sets of rules. For example, Mario from Super Mario Bros. can’t grab a Koopa shell or use any other element that was introduced later in the series. Within these visual styles you will be able to apply six course themes:

  • Ground (Overworld)
  • Underground
  • Underwater
  • Ghost House
  • Airship
  • Castle

The developers added all new sprites and models to the well-known environments, which have been created to expand the known limits of the four game styles.

Create Mode

This is where you can create and edit your levels by using a Wii U Gamepad. The whole process follows these few simple steps:

  1. On the left panel choose the game style of your whole level or of the certain section, you can change the styles for different sections. You can start creating a level with one style in mind and then quickly change between them to see which one fits the best.
  2. Drag and drop game elements and enemies from the upper menu. Try shaking any of the elements once or twice and you will see them changing. Other unique attributes could be added, such as sound effects and certain graphical elements like fireworks. However, you will need to wait for 9 days before gaining access to all of them – each day you will open a new set of game elements.
  3. You can try out your level by playing it and Mario will leave his traces to help you decide where to put the next element.
  4. On the right panel, you will find a course bot that helps you save and upload your levels. Before you are allowed to upload your levels, you will have to beat them first. This rule prevents from posting unbeatable levels.
  5. Auto-scrolling is another great feature that can be added to your levels, as well as different time limits.
  6. On the bottom of the screen, there’s a stretching meter, which helps you decide on the length of a given level section.

A few other important notes:

  • Each time you go online you will see all the feedback on your levels from other players. Looks like this is a good time to take notes.
  • All players will be able to report any content they think is inappropriate by clicking a button in the game. The level will then be reviewed by Nintendo.
  • In the beginning, you will be able to only upload ten levels to start. If you want to be able to upload more you will have to earn rating stars. This should motivate creators to make really interesting stages worthy of ratings.

Super Mario Maker includes a huge number of enemies. On top of that, they can be combined with various art elements to make them unique. They all behave in their typical manners and we won’t list them all, but here are a few ways you can make them more fun:

  • Put enemies inside question blocks. This works well as a surprise element, especially when you desperately need a power-up. Nope! Here’s a Koopa for you.
  • Giant enemies. Yes, you can make giant Koopas, Goombas, and Bowsers by simply feeding them a mushroom in the creation mode.
  • Winged enemies. Absolutely fantastic feature, which lets you add wings to almost any enemy character and making it fly.
  • If you want to know all possible enemy combinations in Super Mario Maker here’s a full list.
Power-Ups and other design elements

Mushrooms, flowers, stars, etc. – it’s all here and more. You all know what they do, but is there something new to be found?

  • Skinny Mario. A glitch turned into a full game feature. You can feed Mario a thin mushroom to make him grow into a slim looking gentleman. Nice twist, Nintendo!
  • Helmets. Spiked shells can be used by Mario as a helmet for protection and it gives him power for breaking bricks even in his small form.
  • Question blocks. Now they can contain more than just enemies or power-ups, but almost anything you want. 

Amiibos and Costumes

Super Mario Maker supports Amiibo toys. After being scanned, Mario will immediately transform into the given character. Overall, there are 99 possible costumes for Mario, many of which can also be used without having the actual toys.

Costumes are placed inside the Mystery Mushroom. Each costume has its own distinct features, but doesn’t necessarily serve as a power-up.

Certain costumes, like Kirby, and many more characters will become available in the future and can be unlocked by completing the 100 Mario Challenge mode.

Play Mode

Course World is very simple and divided into three segments: 10/100 Mario Challenge, Courses and Makers.

  • 10 Mario Challenge. This is where the game randomly chooses 8 levels for you to play through one by one. For the whole thing you have only 10 lives.
  • 100 Mario Challenge. The same as above, but now you have 16 levels to finish with 100 lives on board. You can also let the game know how hard you want your levels to be by switching between easy, normal and expert modes.
  • Courses. A whole new menu where you can separately choose any of the uploaded levels from all over the world. You can choose between all the featured, rated, or up-and-coming levels. Every time you choose a level to play an info card will appear letting you know how many people have played, rated and finished the given level. The game also includes levels you will be able to play in offline mode in case your connection goes off.
  • Makers. This is the Hall of Fame. If you like somebody’s creations you can follow them here or find your new heroes.
Gameplay and Physics

The physics of Mario movements for NES and SNES styles have been changed. They had to be as, the developers have noted, players who never tried the older games wouldn’t enjoy the gameplay that much if they kept the old physics engines intact.

Another great element added to the gameplay is the Red Cross of death. It’s not that scary as it sounds, but simply shows indicators where people have died the most during the specific course playthrough.

You will also encounter Miiverse messages popping up with tips and expressions of joy and sadness in various spots. These can be useful for level creators to take notes about.

The only drawback of the game must be the “no checkpoints” decision. This made a lot of fans realize that they had to start everything from the very beginning. Hopefully, this feature will appear somewhere in the near future.

Online Sharing

All owners of Super Mario Maker can share and distribute their custom created levels via 16-character codes and direct in-game channels. There’s also a possibility for players to make levels within smaller, user-defined communities.

"Sharing with friends is really the whole point of making levels." - Takashi Tezuka, producer of Super Mario Maker, co-creator of Mario and Zelda alongside Shigeru Miyamoto.

The Future
  • 3DS version of Super Mario Maker is possible as stated by Takashi Tezuka:

"I have thought about it. But right now we think it's best for the Wii U Game Pad. I don't know if a 3DS version would work the same exact way, but maybe if Mario Maker does well on Wii U and people really love it, I might consider doing something for 3DS. Right now, the Wii U hardware has a lot more power, so you can fit a lot more enemies and elements on the course. That's why we prefer this hardware. But of course, I am interested in the idea of a portable version."

  • More game styles will be available from other franchises, as well.

"Of course, we're planning on having some different art styles... and not necessarily just Mario. Instead of just switching between Mario graphics, I would be interested in bringing in other series' game world."

  • No Zelda Maker is planned.

"Zelda Maker might be a challenge to make I think. Personally, making Super Mario Maker that was a challenge in itself, and we hope that it's a success, so thank you for saying that, but I think that might be a difficult task."

Full interview can be read here.

Final words

In the age of super expensive and photorealistic AAA titles, 2D platformers may look not that attractive, but Mario has always been a special game. And, Super Mario Maker takes this charm even further by letting everyone be the creator of their favorite levels.

Surely, the developers will add a lot of other great features to the game sometime later. The community will help them understand their game even better, as it has always been. This will undoubtedly turn Super Mario Maker into a huge success.

You can purchase the game in various formats, both physical and digital. In addition, the hardcover artbook will be also available as PDF download. But, if you want the physical artbook, then you have three choices: Wii U bundle, Limited Edition Pack, or Standard Edition Pack.

Now tell us, what is your favorite thing about Super Mario Maker: creating or playing?

Published Sep. 10th 2015
View Comments
  • Matt_3517
    Thanks for the great write up. I'm still unsure about making games. Is there no way to link 8 of your own levels together and play them with friends or yourself? Can you mimic SMB3 and have a map with levels ?
  • Sergey_3847
    You are welcome. Mario Maker is a level editor, meaning you can make separate levels and share them with your friends online. However, it would not be possible to make a complete Mario game with the map of the world.

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