Three Steps to Making a Killer Stage in Super Mario Maker 2

Super Mario Maker 2 is the perfect title for any gamer who’s got a bit of a creative streak in them. There are no barriers to entry; its tools are intuitive and the possibilities are endless. The freedom of creation available here is just as breathtaking as it was in the original Super Mario Maker, a quality that can be both wonderful and intimidating. Players can make almost anything they want, but they have to come up with an idea first, and that can be challenging when the game doesn’t provide anything beyond examples. Fortunately, making an awesome level in Super Mario Maker 2 doesn’t have to be a difficult thing; all one has to do is follow a few simple guidelines.

Super Mario Maker 2 - Maker Screen
Pick a Theme

The first decision a level author should make is choosing the type of experience they want their players to have. Should the stage provide a hearty challenge, or will it give players something more laid-back to enjoy? Is it going to be all about platforming, or will enemies take center stage? Maybe it won’t be a traditional stage at all; automatic Mario levels have always been popular and there’s even unfair troll levels for the more nefarious sorts out there. These are just a few options though; the beauty of Super Mario Maker 2 is that makers can make anything they want. It’s just a matter of choosing an experience before getting started.

Pick a Core Mechanic

Experienced makers can create cohesive levels featuring the entire suite of mechanics, items and enemies in Super Mario Maker 2. New and less experienced players shouldn’t aim quite that high though as it’s easy to get lost while designing such levels. Instead, why not pick one mechanic and build the entire level around that? This way, all one has to do is keep one idea in mind while making their stage instead of juggling several all at once. Just about anything can serve as a level’s key mechanic. It can be the cape from Super Mario World, the clear pipe from Super Mario 3D World or even something as simple as steep ramps. It might sound overly simple, but it makes the rest of the development process flow much more smoothly.

Iterate, Iterate, Iterate!

Once the basics of the level have been chosen and the foundation has been laid out, it’s all about play testing and improving the experience. A good level doesn’t have to be all action all the time, but neither does it always have to be presenting challenges. It does have to always be interesting, though. Think about where interest can come from while play-testing the level.

If it features a long fall for example, consider how that fall can involve the player. Should there be enemies to avoid or would it be better if there were items to collect? Perhaps some bouncy donuts could be thrown-in to toss the player off-course? Player interest is maintained by keeping the player involved, so make sure to do that in a way that fits the kind of level being created. After all, it wouldn’t make sense to suddenly throw a big boss fight into a level primarily about careful platforming, right? Keep testing, adding and removing elements from the stage until it feels good.

Super Mario Maker 2 - Play Screen
Of course, one doesn’t need to strictly adhere to these guidelines in order to make something awesome; good levels can come from anywhere after all. Most good and enjoyable levels, however, are all about consistency and that’s exactly what these guidelines will help develop in new makers. Once that basic tenet is learned, there truly will be no limit to the number of cool and interesting creations one can produce in Super Mario Maker 2.

Super Mario Maker 2 is available now on Nintendo Switch. Check out our review for a full breakdown of what the game is all about.