SUPER MARIO MAKER, Nintendo’s upcoming game-creation software for Wii U, doesn’t give you all of its tools immediately. Instead, it rolls them out in dribs and drabs, a day at a time. This is intended to let you cut your teeth making simpler Mario levels first, before moving on to more complex machinery
After I made my first in-game level, I unlocked the ability to make underwater levels. Everyone hates underwater levels—I didn’t see a single one on the Mario Maker online servers—so I decided I should try it. My goals were still the same: Create a Mario level that was fun but fair, something with a tight, restrained design, something that taught the player something about how the game behaves, then iterated on that, making it more and more challenging.
So far, I’ve found that inspiration comes when I play around with Super Mario Maker, just dragging various elements around and playing with them, seeing how they react and how they work in combinations. The game’s effortless switching between playing and editing makes that easy to do. In the underwater level, I quickly found something I liked: One of the elements is a platform that you can swim up from underneath, but can’t go through it from the top.
In other words, a one-way passage. I had my fun underwater experiment: A tight-squeeze passage with enemies and obstacles, which you could easily avoid by just swimming all the way to the top—but then you’d find yourself without a way to proceed. You’d have to stay in the middle the whole way through.
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