Super Mario Maker finally arrived on the Wii U. With it, you can put your imagination to work creating levels based on a number of classic Super Mario games, including the original 1985 NES release, as well as Super Mario World on the SNES, Super Mario Bros. 3 for NES and New Super Mario Bros. U, with graphics you change with a simple button press.

Those who pick up the game will have access to a special digital book that provides a number of design tips for making the perfect level. That said, we have a few pointers to help channel your inner Shigeru Miyamoto. 

Take a Look Around 

Before jumping into Super Mario Maker’s virtual toolbox, play other people’s levels for both inspiration and to test your skills. For instance, one stage may have you running along platforms, picking up as many invincibility stars as you can while speeding through a field of Spiny Shells in an attempt to reach the flag before time expires, one of many unique examples.

Head over to Play and check out two modes in particular. First is the 100-Man Challenge, which provides eight varied levels strung together in a row. This is a good, quick mode if you simply want to get playing. The first levels are easy, but be warned – by the time you reach the fourth or fifth stage, you’ll deal with all sorts of hazards and platforming challenges. That’s why it’s great to have 100 lives. 

In addition, check out the Worlds mode, where you can browse levels by featured, star rating and creators. Locating friends can take a little bit of time, but this is a great way to see the best levels, voted on by the community. You may not be able to complete them all, but there’s no harm in trying – and doing so will earn you a flag, so you can indicate the level was successfully completed. You can send comments as well, in case you want to offer criticism or praise.

There are literally hundreds of levels, so don’t be afraid to jump in.

It’s Time to Create

Now there’s the other side of the game, the “Make” section, where you’ll finally be able to build the Mario level of your dreams. However, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.

In order to upload a stage, you need to finish it, as in go from point A to point B. Members of the community will test out the level once it’s posted, and you’re likely to receive feedback if there’s difficulty with reaching the exit (like setting up a wall of spikes in front of a flag). Make sure you take your time going from start to finish, adding as many obstacles and enemies as you wish – as long as you’re able to reach the end. Don’t worry. You can make tweaks on the fly. 

Second, don’t forget you have more tools of the trade available. More stuff unlocks as you progress through the game, and special deliveries will be made regularly, so you can play around with new toys. For good measure, you can also change particular objects by “shaking” them, using the stylus once they’re highlighted on the stage. For example, a green Koopa Troopa can be converted into a red Koopa Troopa by shaking it for a second. Experiment and see what new items come up – and then add little things, like wings (which makes them fly or run around) to see how you can change their behavior. 

From here, play around with the different Mario worlds. The Super Mario Bros. 3 world unlocks after playing around for a bit, and it’s easily one of the best choices available, putting the classic 8-bit style at your fingertips. However, you can change the skin at any time, so you can see how obstacles, environments and enemies convert to 16-bit, Mario Bros. U and original Mario Bros. style with just a convenient button push. It’s up to you to decide which works best in terms of design, but don’t be afraid to try a new skin and see how it looks. You can always go back. 

The tools available in Mario Maker allow you to save changes and even delete everything if you feel like starting over, with the simple tap of a rocket. It never hurts to start again from scratch if you feel something isn’t working, while at the same time, you can save progress and then revert back if even the slightest thing is out of place. Make sure you have an understanding of these features so you can quickly and conveniently switch around and build your level. You can also delete little things with the help of an eraser robot, if you want to just remove one little element. 

Not Every Level Has to be Perfect 

Finally, when it comes to making a level in Super Mario Maker, remember that practice makes perfect. You don’t have to create an excellent level right off the bat with this game – most of the time, you won’t. The idea behind it is to give you the tools necessary to learn and then design something special. 

Don’t get discouraged by this. Go ahead and give level design a try, and upload at will. It may not make the Featured list, but it’ll inspire you to try ideas and eventually get better. 

Finally, have fun with it. There’s a lot of creative stuff you can do in this game, like attaching Chain Chomps to moving platforms, creating 1-up earning opportunities with a sea of Goombas (knocked over by a turtle shell, mind you), building underground worlds with a few hazard-laden pipes for good measure and more. The levels already made in the game will give you an idea what to expect.   

One more thing – Nintendo launched a Super Mario Maker Super Creator Challenge, which can be found here. It gives you a good idea of how to create levels in the game, as well as the anxiety that comes from trying other challenging stages. It’s worth a view – especially if you’re a fan of its stars, like iJustine and Jessica Merizan. (A sample video is included below.) 

Good luck – and we’ll see you in the Mario Maker community!