Adapting NSMB 1-1 to Super Mario Maker

When adapting a level from New Super Mario Bros. into Super Mario Maker, there are often a few concessions that need to be made. It’s how those concessions are handled that can be for the better or for the worse.

World 1-1 in NSMB is a good place to start adapting because the level is very close to a traditional Super Mario Bros. level.

Adjusting for Slopes

One of the first areas you will hit a hard decision is at the slopes. Because Super Mario Maker does not support slopes, you must design this portion without the sloping. This doesn’t seem too bad at first, as there were a couple of non-sloping hills just before this area. But then you find the Goomba to the right of the slope area is now trapped.

NSMB 1-1 with a trapped Goomba due to the absence of slopes.
NSMB 1-1 with a trapped Goomba due to the absence of slopes.

Leaving the Goomba trapped is poor design because this is an adaptation of an existing level, and in the original level, that Goomba walked up one side of the slope and down the other.

There are three simple solutions to choose from:

  • Move the Goomba to start from on the hill.
  • Raise the ground right of the slope, extending the hill to the pipe.
  • Remove the hill completely.
NSMB 1-1 with the Goomba relocated due to the absence of slopes.
NSMB 1-1 with the Goomba relocated due to the absence of slopes.

I feel moving the Goomba does the best to preserve the original look and feel of the level. Regardless of the solution you decide upon when adapting a level, be certain to take care in the placement of enemies.

Fitting the Sub Area

World 1-1 has a single underground sub area. You should always use the minimal necessary length in a sub area, which is four squares wider than the sub area used in World 1-1.

NSMB 1-1's sub area is slightly shorter than two screens.
NSMB 1-1’s sub area is slightly shorter than two screens.

Once again, there are a few options available to adapt the sub area:

  • Add an extra square of space between some close elements (such as a set of blocks and a set of coins that have one empty column in-between can become two empty columns).
  • Stretch out existing elements. A row of five brick blocks with coins on top can become six or seven.
  • Add new elements to fill in the extra space. This is vital for adapting an NES level with a single-screen sub area, but NSMB World 1-1 only needs four more columns, making it difficult to add new elements.
  • Resize the main area to the exact size needed for the sub area before creating the sub area.

Resizing the main area is the best way to get the exact length for the sub area, but this has to be done before the main area is filled out. Also, take care not to trigger the intangible wall glitch. If the main area is already filled out, or the intangible wall glitch would be active, then you’ll need to use another method.

NSMB 1-1's sub area with copied content to fill two screens.
NSMB 1-1’s sub area with copied content to fill two screens.

World 1-1’s sub area has a prime spot for adding content. Simply duplicate the coins-on-steps pattern at the end of the sub area from two steps to three steps. This requires raising the pipe one square, but it keeps the same feel as the original while making use of the extra space.

Replacing Star Coins

The lack of Star Coins can be more difficult to work around. In this level, it is easy to remove the first Star Coin and the sub area’s Star Coin without any issues. There is no need to put anything in their place, although a couple of hidden ?-blocks can reward a player investigating where the Star Coins used to be. Just keep in mind that this alters the feel of a level when a player hits one by accident.

The final Star Coin is located in an alcove accessible by using a ground pound attack. This rewards players who reached the alcove without losing their Super Mushroom size.

NSMB 1-1 Star Coin area with regular coins.
NSMB 1-1 Star Coin area with regular coins.

One option is to fill this area with coins. A single Star Coin is easily replaced by four to six regular coins. It is better not to place a power-up item here, as this level has enough already.

A 1-Up may sound like a nice treat, but this level already has a 1-Up at an earlier location. Placing too many 1-Ups cheapens them, while adding a few coins puts the player only a fraction of the way to their next life.

Red Coins Bonus Area

The cloud bonus area has to be kept on the same screen as the main area. This is because vines cannot be used to access a sub area, and also the single available sub area is better used for the underground portion. Lucky for this adaptation, the width of the bonus area is close to the length of the area the player skips, so it works to place the clouds directly above the level.

The only negative impact of placing the clouds above the level is that the player can run and jump off of the end of the clouds to skip a portion of the level. This can partially be offset by making the cloud area shorter, but then players who drop straight down at the end will not by set as far in the level as in the original NSMB game.

There is room for making the cloud area shorter, due to the lack of a red ring and red coins in Super Mario Maker. This is what the bonus area housed in the original title. The adaptation can replace those red coins with regular coins, but the lack of the red ring leaves a barren opening area when first arrived atop the clouds.

Either make the cloud area shorter, or add more coins, to handle the barren area.

Adjusting the Level Length

Super Mario Maker’s maximum level length is 14 squares less than the length of NSMB World 1-1. This requires compressing areas where losing one or two blocks of length will not negatively impact the feel of the level. There are a few good candidates for this:

  • The start of the level can be compressed by maybe up to three squares.
  • The location where the first Star Coin is located can be compressed by two squares.
  • The location where the Mega Mushroom is can be compressed from the ?-block to just before the next ?-block. This is seven squares of compression.
  • The location where the third Star Coin is located can be compressed by three to seven squares.
NSMB 1-1 Star Coin area removed to save space.
NSMB 1-1 Star Coin area removed to save space.

I would recommend targeting the Star Coin and Mega Mushroom locations, as these do not appear in Super Mario Maker. Technically, an alternative to the Mega Mushroom does exist if you have one of the 8-bit Mario amiibo, but there are limitations and effects to its use that are undesirable for a NSMB level adaptation.

With these tips and consideration in mind, you should be able to adapt many NSMB levels without disrupting the players’ memories of the originals.