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Mario Maker Challenge: Week 2 - Mario Maker Run!
posted on: Tuesday, December 27, 2016

It's time to review the second level in our Mario Maker Challenge, Mario Maker Run! Even though we are only in the second week of this challenge things have already become difficult. In this post I'll take you through some of the aspects of this level design that made this an especially tough one to complete

Mario Maker Run!

Because of the world-wide release of Super Mario Run last week I decided to base this level on that style of fast paced gameplay. In Super Mario Run you are constantly being driven forward to the right and you must time your jumps just right to collect all the coins spread around the level. To try and accomplish this I went through several false starts of levels that just didn't work for one reason or another. In the end I had to settle for a level that moved at a fast pace like Super Mario Run but that didn't stick as closely to the restrictions as I had hoped.

If you haven't played Mario Maker Run yet, and you want to give it a shot before I dissect it, you can click this link to check out the Mario Maker Bookmark page for the level or you can use the code in the image below to find it in Course World.

Mario Maker Level - 34D6-0000-02D2-460F
Mario Maker Run! - 34D6-0000-02D2-460F

Playthrough

This level moves fast! I added in key coins to take the place of the collectable coins in a Super Mario Run level and also placed my usual 3 1-Ups. If you want to grab it all in one run you have to quickly jump around the level like a jack-rabbit. Check out my run below and then I'll explain all the aspects of how this level failed to really capture my plans for this week.

Movement

My first struggles with this level design were because of the constant movement requirement. Originally I tried to build a level where the ground was covered with conveyor belts that were constantly moving the player forward. That worked in small sections but as you jumped from one conveyor to another your speed continued to increase. After a few jumps you were nearly flying off the edge of the screen. Another problem with the conveyor belt world is that enemies can't traverse the terrain correctly. This meant that I would either have to rely solely on flying enemies or build my level without enemies at all.

Using conveyor belts to force forward movement
Using conveyor belts to force forward movement

After a few failed attempts at making the conveyor belt level work I decided to go with an auto scroll level. While this doesn't completely match the limitations I was going for it seemed like the best I could do with the tools I had available.

Spacing

Another aspect of the level design that stems from the constant forward movement is the spacing of elements within the level. If you are going to force the player to be in constant motion you have to space out the level so that they have time to identify what action they need to take. I originally spaced the level with this concept in mind but then filled it up with collectable coins and 1-Ups mushrooms that made the level feel too small. Once all the elements of the level were placed it felt like some of the sections are almost stacked on top of each other.

Levels need room to breath
Levels need room to breath

To combat this in the future I'm going to try and do a better job of 'blocking' out the level and placing all the level elements to make sure they have the room they need before adding in enemies, coins, and collectables.

Level Stats

One of my goals for this level was to make sure that it had a higher completion rate than my last level. I wanted to offer an easy path to the flag but still provide challenge in collecting the coins and 1-Ups. I think the stats reflect that I was successful in that but I honestly would like to have seen the percentage in the 40s or 50s.

The Genius of Super Mario Run

Trying to make this level made me really appreciate how incredible the level design is in Super Mario Run. Because everything in the levels is placed in a way that makes it a power-up or boost for the player to reach different areas. That they were able to transform how the levels work to that degree and still make it feel like a Mario game is really a testament to the brilliant level designers working at Nintendo.


Super Mario Run
Super Mario Run sets a high bar

Conclusion

This was a very difficult level to complete and I don't really feel like it lived up to my initial expectations. Because of that this design theme may be something I try to revisit at a later date in this challenge. In the end I just don't know that Mario Maker has the tools, or that I have the level design talent with Mario Maker, to pull off a level of this type. Hopefully as we move forward in the challenge I will get a better understanding of what Mario Maker is capable of and I will also improve my skills so I can give it another shot.