Get creative with Super Mario Maker
Super Mario Maker makes creating courses fun, but actually creating courses that your fellow players will enjoy takes time, inspiration and a little know-how.
Chances are that you won’t create something amazing at your first attempt, but with some inspiration and persistence you could be building courses that surprise and delight Mario fans around the world. Just getting started?
Get ahead with a few tips and tricks with our handy guide.
Don't forget to read our Super Mario Maker review before you get started too
1. Study the masters
Needless to say, having an encyclopaedic knowledge of every Mario game, block, enemy, mechanism and power-up is a huge advantage, but the next best thing is to study the sample courses you unlock while playing the Ten Mario Challenge mode.
Tap on the Coursebot button in Create mode, then Load, then tap the arrow next to My Courses in the top-left corner and switch to the sample courses. Once you’re there, look for the courses that have knocked your socks off and surprised you or just the courses that you’ve enjoyed the most.
Tap them to load and edit them, then take a good look at how they’re made. Study the elements that have been used and how they’re positioned, then see how you can apply the same ideas to your own courses.
2. Remix your favourites
The sample courses aren’t just there to be studied – they can also be reworked. See how switching one enemy for another or changing a power-up affects the difficulty or flow of a course. Add spawning pipes, cannons or trampolines to change how the course plays out. By mixing things up you may create something unexpected and absolutely brilliant.
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3. Keep things simple
When Nintendo’s team create a Mario level they never throw in everything but the kitchen sink. Super Mario Maker itself drip feeds in new elements to encourage you to work with a limited selection, so that you make the most out of the blocks and enemies available before graduating to a larger set.
Take heed. Think of themes or simple ideas and stick to them, using a limited palette of elements at a time. Look at how repeating certain elements or combinations with different variations can make for a really fun course, particularly once you start playing with the players’ expectations.
Take a look at the Ten Mario Challenge courses and you’ll soon get the point: a simple course with one great idea is often better than a complex course without one.
4. Learn how objects combine
Mario Maker works on a kind of Mushroom Kingdom logic, where the best way to alter an element is usually to drag another element on top of it. Try dragging enemies onto pipes or cannons, power-ups onto enemies and power-ups onto different blocks. Try giving Goombas wings or sticking piranha plants on top of other monsters.
Not every combination will bear fruit, but you might find some brilliant or hilarious combos that could inspire a new course or bring an existing one to life.
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5. Shake everything
The other way to alter many elements is to tap it in the toolbar, drag it onto the screen then shake it with the point of your stylus. Many elements given this treatment will become something else, and that something else could be something that turns your next course around.
6. Don’t overdo the difficulty
There’s a place in Mario Maker’s Course World for some really challenging levels, but it’s easy to get too caught up in the sadistic pleasures of making the most difficult Mario level ever made.
This may be fun for you, but it won’t be fun for anyone else.
The game has a defence against impossible courses – the creator needs to complete them before they can be uploaded – but some come pretty close.
If your course is too frustrating or requires an incredible lucky streak to complete then many players won’t enjoy it. There’s nothing wrong with being tough but you have to be fair.
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7. Test, test and test some more
Making great courses is as much about refinement as just dragging blocks, coins and enemies into place. Play your course, see how it works, then make changes.
Try altering where enemies or power-ups appear and make sure that Mario can reach higher areas or squeeze beneath power-up blocks. Check that traps and obstacles are actually passable, and that the route from start to goal makes some kind of sense.
To help, you can track how Mario has moved over the last few seconds. Once you’ve had a trial play, return to Create mode and tap the small Mario icon next to the Play clapperboard in the bottom left-hand corner. You’ll see a ghostly trail of Marios that shows you where Mario has been.
8. Use the e-manual
Super Mario Maker has its own built-in help which isn’t just informative but funny and packed with useful tips.
Press the + button in Create mode to call up the menu, then press the question-mark icon in the bottom-right of the screen. You can find out all about useful techniques, how to control the scroll speed, how to use sound effects and how to control tracks.
You can even enter the special codes found in the Super Mario Maker art book.
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9. Use sub-areas
You can expand your course further by dragging the G in the bar to the right, or shorten it by dragging it to the left.
However, you can also create courses with different sub-areas linked by pipes, provided you’ve unlocked the last bunch of items. Just drag a pipe element onto your course then drag Mario over it. You’re taken to the new area, ready for editing, where the first element to add is an entrance pipe followed by an exit pipe.
Cleverly, areas and sub-areas don’t have to have the same theme, so you can switch from, say, Ground to Underwater just by tapping the theme button and picking a new one.
10. Use the bumpers and triggers
The L and R bumpers and ZL and ZR triggers act as modifiers when you’re editing. Hold L or R and you can drag a lasso around a group of items then drag them all at once into a new position. Hold ZL or ZR and you can copy an existing item just by tapping and dragging it. Hold L and R or ZL and ZR simultaneously and you can delete any item at a tap.
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11. Respect Mario’s evolution
Switching from the Original Super Mario Bros. style to the New Super Mario Bros. U style doesn’t just alter the visuals and sound. Mario’s moveset has evolved over the years, affecting controls, jump distance and abilities to carry, punch and ground-pound.
Understanding these differences can help you tailor your course to a specific Mario era.
In fact, switching era can be a help, giving players new ways to solve a course or get past challenging obstacles.