6 Super Mario Maker tips & tricks to make you a master level designer
Super Mario Maker for the Wii U finally gives players the opportunity to fulfill their fantasies of making their very own Mario levels. With a toolbox loaded with every tool imaginable, 4 different Mario game themes, the option to build sublevels upon sublevels, and anything else you could imagine, it's very easy to get overwhelmed.
Fear not, though, for if you follow these simple tricks, you can become a level-creating pro in no time.
For all of the basics the game has to offer, please refer to our article Everything you need to know about Super Mario Maker. This guide will go a little more in-depth and provide information to quickly and effectively make the best levels you possibly can.
1. Build it and They Will Come
When you first start off designing courses in Mario Maker, your tool palette is fairly limited. This was an intentional choice made by Nintendo to allow players to master tools before throwing too much at them all at once. Initially, new tools would be unlocked daily, but with the new update, more tools are delivered based off how much time you invest in the game along with how many levels you build.
What your toolbox initially looks like (top), and what it will look like when you unlock everything (bottom).
With that being said: BUILD, BUILD, BUILD. Even with the most basic tools, there is so much you can do that you may not even be thinking of.
2. Test Your Levels
This may sound redundant, but play the levels you make! Make sure you can not only actually finish them, but that you have fun with them as well. It's easy to lose focus designing a course you think looks great and will be so much fun, in theory, but until you play it, you can't know for sure.
On top of this, try and have other people play, and test it before uploading it.
You'll be amazed at just how differently other people can interpret your levels than you had initially thought they might play out. Once you do upload a level, pay attention to any comments players may make about it!
The "ghost" feature that trails Mario's movements will become your best friend, especially when you start designing more intricate levels that require precision movements and timing.
3. Read The Manual
I can't remember the last time that I ever needed to look at a video game manual to give me information, but with Super Mario Maker I find myself doing it constantly.
Not only is it fairly funny to read, but it gives you real insight on how to modify certain things, that you may have otherwise never thought about doing before. The manual will also give you insight in how to do shortcuts that will save you time and stress when designing levels.
For example, the shoulder and trigger buttons will let you copy, select chunks of the level, and even quickly erase things depending on the combination you press.
The Idea Book is not only a cool thing to look at, but can also give you.. ideas. Who would've thought?
Along with the manual, it's also a good idea to check into the Idea Book that comes with the game. Not only is it a fitting homage to Mario's history, but there are codes in there that you can use to unlock some impressive levels and draw inspiration from.
4. Don't be the devil
Be sure to reward players with some kind of powerup after making it through a challenging spot in your course
It's a good idea to build challenging levels, but it's also a better idea to be fair.
Super Mario Maker sadly offers no checkpoints in levels, so if your course is not only challenging but long as well, you run the risk of frustrating players. Be sure to reward players with some kind of powerup after making it through a challenging spot in your course to not only give them a fighting chance, but to make them feel like your level isn't impossible.
5. Outline, then Fill In
It's a good rule of thumb to create a rough draft of what you envision your stage to look like. Start off with the basic grounding, sublevels, blocks, and doors. Make sure the player knows exactly where to go by guiding them with coins, arrows, or dead ends.
Blind jumps and unclear paths are never fun for players unless properly communicated. After you have the skeleton of your stage made, then you can go back and start adding in all of the frills and fun stuff that will give your stage that special feeling.
Practice restraint and making the most out of everything you place and remember that more enemies on a stage doesn't necessarily make it a better and more challenging course.
Once the groundwork is laid out, then you should go back and start adding in enemies and obstacles.
6. Draw Inspiration from Others to Inspire People
There's a reason you can download other player's levels. Sure it allows you to relive some amazing levels over again and share them with your friends, but more importantly it allows you to draw inspiration from them. The ability to be able to edit a downloaded level allows you to see just how the course was designed, and there is nothing wrong with taking inspiration from an incredible course.
With that being said, do not copy and rip off someone else's work. It can be super simple to download a popular level, change the theme, add a few things, and then upload it as your own, but where's the integrity in that?
These are just some basic tips that will hopefully help you design courses much more effectively. There is no one right way to build a level, though. Whether you follow all of these tips, some of them, or none of them at all, just keep building levels, push the game and your imagination to the limits, and have fun.