Level Design: Super Mario Maker 2

I’m making a Level Design Analysis about different popular games such as Left 4 Dead, Portal and Amnesia, in order to be able to learn myself and help other Game Designers and Level Designers to know about design levels from different genres. The first game is Super Mario Maker 2, and I decided to start by analysing one of its initial story levels, to learn how the professionals design it. The next step will be to design my own level, but that will be another day.

Cover image of Super Mario Maker 2

Level: ON/OFF Switch Research Expedition

In this level the “On / Off Switch” is used several times so that the player solves different puzzles while discovering its many uses. This object activates the collision on the blue or red blocks. If we divide the level, we can perfectly differentiate 8 puzzles that work well even independently.

Puzzle 01

The first one is the easiest, where players are taught that there are red and blue blocks. The objective is to get the question mark block that is above the deactivated blue blocks. Solution? Players just have to press the On / Off Switch once.

Puzzle 02

When players go to the second, they find the red blocks deactivated, which makes a little backtracking, making players go back to press the On/Off Switch again. Message: the On / off Switch affects the entire level, and players have to be aware of which color is activated at all times.

Puzzle 03

Next we have a puzzle that involves a little more danger: There is a Chomp going around. The safest option would be to lock it inside the red cubes zone when it gets into them, but that would make players lose the opportunity to get the coins. Players who believe that the risk is worth it, will dodge the Chomp and take the coins, to later lock the Chomp or not into the red zone and use them to jump to the next platform. This puzzle teaches players that they can use the power to activate the red and blue cubes in their favor, so that they help them fight enemies.

Puzzle 04

In the next puzzle they put the previous teaching to test again, and giving players some pleasure in the misfortune of the enemy. It is a simple puzzle to reduce tension after a complicated puzzle, creating different rhythms of stress / calm / stress, a resource often used in Level Designs to create dynamism.

Puzzle 05

The next puzzle is again somewhat complicated, although it does not represent a mortal danger to players. In this, they have to use the On / off Switch to get the 1-Up mushroom. It is an optional prize, a reward for players who have already understood the mechanic of the block. They will have to press the button at the right time to get the 1-Up mushroom that comes out of the pipe reaches the musical block. For this puzzle players have to use their reflexes well and be patient. With this puzzle, in addition to giving players a reward, they are taught that the blocks can be used to make a path through which an asset can pass.

Puzzle 06

In the next puzzle the players work a little more on this mechanic. In order to move forward, they will have to press the On / Off Switch when the biting flower jumps, thus leaving it locked in the upper part. In this puzzle there is again a reward, practically guaranteed, this way, players who in the previous puzzle have lost the 1-Up, do not feel too frustrated.

Puzzle 07

In the next puzzle they find a dead end. Players will immediately deduce that the only option is entering into the pipe. In it they will find a puzzle very similar to the 1-Up mushroom, although more complicated because the jumps of the star are more difficult to predict. Thanks to the experience that players have acquired with the two previous puzzles, this puzzle will be solved easily, which will allow him to pass through the flowers, again giving him both: the pleasure of having obtained a reward, and the pleasure in others misfortune.

Puzzle 08

Almost done with a puzzle that has two parts. In this, there is a new way of using the On / Off Switch, which is using a shell of a Koopa Troopa to hit it repeatedly. At first, players may feel somewhat confused, as it is a new use that had not been mentioned before, but at the same time it is a challenge, since they are almost reaching the end of the level. They will go through the blocks with coins, and they will reach the final area, where SURPRISE the puzzle has not finished! The shell is still bouncing, allowing them to use the blocks as a ladder if they jump properly to the beat, as they have learned from previous puzzles. If done properly, players will be rewarded with reaching the top of the flag.


Do you think we can draw any more conclusions from this level? I hope you found it interesting and help you to design new levels!

Yeray Toledano – Game Designer

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