It’s hard to overstate the importance of World 1-1, the first level in the original Super Mario Bros. It’s more than just the start of Nintendo’s most iconic game; it’s the start of modern video games as we know them. There’s a level of consideration for the player’s learning experience in its design that wasn’t really seen before Super Mario Bros. Compared to other games of the time, the journey that lay ahead of Mario was long and complicated, full of new ideas its audience needed to learn and experiment with. World 1-1’s blocks, goombas, pipes—all of them were carefully placed to guide us through that learning process, and developers have been following this template ever since.
With Super Mario Maker, Nintendo’s make-your-own-Mario-level toolbox, just around the corner, amateur Mario artisans would do well to revisit World 1-1 and its invaluable level-design lessons. Luckily, Eurogamer has just the ticket. Yesterday, it published a video featuring Shigeru Miyamoto, Super Mario Bros.’ director, and Takashi Tezuka, the assistant director, breaking down the creation of World 1-1 and the thoughts that went into its obstacles. There’s a good reason why the first enemy you encounter is a goomba and not a koopa, or why a safer duplicate immediately precedes a tricky, life-threatening jump. Miyamoto gets into all that, plus some discussion of how he and the team made Mario feel so natural to control, and his answers are as enlightening and charming as ever.