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Super Mario Maker Directors Give Five Tips To Make Your Levels Better

by Brian Shea on Sep 16, 2015 at 10:26 AM

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Super Mario Maker gives you all the tools you need to design, test, play, and share the Super Mario levels of your dreams. While many Wii U owners have already jumped in, publishing a ton of levels since its launch on September 11, most Super Mario Maker players went into the experience with no prior level-design experience.

While the game does a good job of making it as easy as possible, we spoke to the director, Yosuke Oshino, and senior director, Yoshikazu Yamashita, about how to make your Super Mario Maker levels even better than before. You can check out their tips below.

Play Through A Ton Of Courses

The best way to know what works and doesn’t is to think about what you like to play. “I’d advise you to play through a lot of courses,” Yamashita says. “Play the 10-Mario Challenge and Course World, and if you find a course you like (I’d recommend a shorter one first), save it and try messing around with it. As you learn how the courses you like were made, and how they can be changed to make them better (or worse), I think you’ll gradually build up a toolbox of ideas on how to build courses.”

Oshino also feels there is value in the implemented online leaderboards. “It might also be a good idea to look at what kind of courses people are making with the 10-Mario Challenge, or to go on Course World and check out the world rankings to see how people on there make their courses and get all those favorites,” he says.

Think About Target Audience

While it’s always tempting to make that impossible course, or the next crazy “Don’t Touch Any Buttons” level, it’s key to consider the end user experience. “I think it’s important that you think about who you want playing your course, and how you want him or her to play it,” Oshino says. “Think about a course length they’d prefer, and what kinds of enemies or course elements they’d like. I also think people like courses which have that, ‘Let’s try that one more time,’ element to them without being unfair, no matter if they’re easy or difficult.”

Playtest, And Ask Your Friends And Family To Play

This should be an obvious one, but while you may have fun playing the level you created, seeing how others react to your level is important for fine-tuning. “I sometimes go back to a course I made the other day to look at it impartially and fix it up, but usually I have someone else test it out, get feedback, make fixes, and repeat the process to keep improving the course,” Oshino says. “So if you have your family or friends play your Super Mario Maker courses and ask for their honest takes, I think you can use that to make fixes and brush things up, ultimately improving them.”

 “It’s important that you keep a close eye on the person playing it,” Yamashita says. “Are they enjoying themselves, or are they acting like it’s a chore? If they look bored, don’t be afraid to make major changes. Once you fix it up, have them play through it again. Keep repeating that process, and I’m sure you’ll be able to create some killer courses.”

Experiment With Combinations

One of the coolest things about Super Mario Maker is that it allows you to combine enemies, power-ups, and items to create unique and sometimes dastardly combinations within your levels. Oshino thinks that this should be used to your advantage. “[W]hen you combine multiple parts together, you’ll suddenly open up a great deal more opportunities. I found a new way to combine parts myself just the other day,” he says. “I think players might just invent new ways to combine parts that not even we thought of, too.”

As far as Oshino’s favorites, he enjoys some of the more off-the-wall combos. “I like the ‘generational change’ of putting Bowser on the back of a large Bowser Jr. (i.e., when you combine Bowser Jr. with a Mushroom), or taking the Queen (high-heeled) Goomba’s Shoe you get by shaking a regular Goomba’s Shoe and adding wings to it to make a Para-Queen Goomba’s Shoe.”

Dig Into The E-Manual

It may not sound like the most exciting idea presented by the directors, but Nintendo put a lot of effort into the included E-Manual and actually made it entertaining, interactive, and helpful. “There’s a column in the E-Manual devoted to useful tips for making courses, and if you type the codes from the Idea Book into the game, there’s also a lot of videos in the E-Manual you can use as a reference. I’d recommend taking a look through those, too,” Oshino says.


If you'd like to learn more about Super Mario Maker, you can check out Kyle Hilliard's review, or watch us play some editor-created levels.