You don’t have much to choose from when Super Mario Maker begins. You get one set of building blocks, with more unlocking each day. It’s possible to do cool things right from the start, but challenging since you don’t have so much to work with. Your first level will probably be very straightforward, since you’re just beginning, with later ones really reflecting your genius.
I wanted to make a bullet hell level. Something involving a Fire Flower. But, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get it to work. I didn’t have fireballs right away. What I did have were wings and a bunch of enemies. So, I thought about adding wings to some characters, shove them in pipes so they’d continually generate, and see what happened. I decided to do so first with a Spiny, because what’s more terrifying than a spiky creature with wings?
Turns out, the Spiny was scarier than I thought! A winged Spiny will occasionally curl into a ball and shoot off spikes. To be exact, after four seconds of flying, the Spiny sent off four diagonal spikes, which would fly off diagonally and eventually disappear.
I decided to change direction. My original goal was something of a Super Mario Maker run and gun with enemies and obstacles everywhere, but I decided to go with a different approach. I was going to make a level that would offer multiple paths and make people believe that fighting back was the answer, when really it would be best to run as fast as possible to the goal.
The trick would be making people believe fighting was the answer, while simultaneously making people wonder if pipes were or weren’t dangerous. I added a Costume Mario outfit in a pipe in the upper left corner, using one of my Super Smash Bros. amiibo. Then, I made a pipe in the middle spawn Fire Flowers, You know, make people feel like they’d be able to fight against the swarms of flying Spinies.
This was clearly a trap. I tested it myself, to make sure it would work. If someone tried to go for the flower, they’d be invincible for a few seconds. But, the Spiny that would generate from the pip on the far right, the one obscured by the corner of the screen, would reach them by the time the invisibility wore off. Someone bent on getting that flower would be trapped in a never ending cycle of pain.
I then decided to make two paths through the level. Someone could take the high road or low road. It would even be possible to use the pipes in the screenshot above to scale that wall, if someone performed some agile jumps. One path was designed to be the “right” one, though, and I decided to try and make the choice obvious as an apology for all the spikes coming from every possible direction.
How would someone know they had done the “right” thing? Well, first they’d have made it past the all of the spikes and Spinies in the first half of the level. Getting to the second half was a minor achievement in and of itself. But the real reward was a deluge of coins, one up mushrooms, and an easy-to-hijack Lakitu cloud.
Once you make a level, you do have to play it to show it is possible to beat. Since I knew the trick, of course I got it done and added to the Super Mario Maker community levels. Hopefully, people like it and give me stars, because earning stars increases the number of courses you can upload. Initially, everyone can only upload 10.
In closing, I’d like to present you all with a makeshift overview of Super Spiky. It was actually too hazardous to take screenshots as I played, so we’ll have to make do with a patchwork map from the Edit mode.
Super Mario Maker will come to the Wii U on September 11. Perhaps you’ll happen onto a brilliant level idea, just like I did!