Earlier this fall Nintendo released one of my most anticipated games of the year, Super Mario Maker. Similarly to the Little Big Planet series, Mario Maker is all about creating the Mario levels of your dreams and sharing them with your friends. When I was a kid, Adam and I used to create our own levels using graph paper and dream about how cool it would be to be able to bring them to life. Well this game made that a reality and is one my absolute favorite games of the year (I really wish I still had those old graph paper levels!).
A few months after its release, it’s interesting to see that many of the most popular levels found online are ones that are excruciatingly hard. People have create some of the most punishing levels imaginable and dared the rest of the Mario Maker community to get through them. To their credit, the creativity on display in some of these levels is mind blowing. They’re coming up with ingenious ways to torture players. I’ve never been one for playing games that are so difficult that they make you want to break the controller in half, so I’ve stuck to creating more traditional levels. Seeing some of these designs though has inspired me to create a series of levels designed around a particular difficulty myself. But I went in the opposite direction and created some of the easiest Mario levels I could think of.
That may seem odd to make levels with little to no challenge, but I had a very specific audience in mind for these levels… my kids. Both of my girls like video games but don’t play very much, and neither one of them are particularly good at them. Super Mario Maker provided me with a unique opportunity to create fun Super Mario levels that my kids would be able to play and finish, but not have to worry about being intimidated by tough enemies or challenging platforming.
The levels that I made for them contain no enemies or lava pits, in fact you can’t die at all in them. I wanted to make them as inviting to little kids as possible. That’s not to say that I created boring levels where you just walk from one end to another. I did make a few tricky jumps here and there and maybe a few puzzles, but the punishment for not making it is never death. You just land below and go back to try it again. This has eliminated the anxiety my girls would get when playing other games where they would lose a life and have to go back to the beginning of the level.
It has created this special experience for me and my children where we can create and play through Super Mario levels that are just right for their age and experience level. As time goes on I can create levels that get a little tougher bit by bit and eventually introduce them to the actual Super Mario Bros. games themselves. There have been few games that have brought us all together in such a fun way (Minecraft comes close) and I can’t wait to see where this game takes us next. Who knows, maybe they’ll be designing levels for me before you know it!
If you’d like to try out some of my Super Mario Maker levels, here’s the code for My First Mario 1-1. Then just follow me as a creator to see the rest of my levels! And we’d love to try out your levels so send us your codes in the comments.