Let’s Interview: LuigiBonus and the Super Mario Construct Team!

Let's Interview:

LuigiBonus and the Super Mario Construct Dev Team

Development Team

Interview conducted by


Let’s Interview: LuigiBonus and the Super Mario Construct Team!

Earlier this year, we interviewed the dev team for a game called Super Mario 127. This was a sequel to the original Super Mario 63, and featured a custom level editor which could share levels to a site called Level Share Square.

Yet Level Share Square isn’t exclusively for Super Mario 127 levels. No, it also provides hosting for levels built with another set of tools too. Namely, Super Mario Construct and Yoshi’s Fabrication Station.

And these tools are a very interesting set indeed. Originally made by a fan game developer known as LuigiBonus, they’re Super Mario World and Yoshi’s Island themed editors with dozens of awesome themes, objects and enemies to play around with, all entirely usable in your web browser.

It’s an amazing setup, and one that works surprisingly well given the limitations of the browser and the sheer amount of features at play here.

So today, we’re gonna interview LuigiBonus and his team, and see what goes into all these incredible tools. Are you ready folks? Let’s do this!

The Interview

Starting with a bit of personal background info. Who are you?

@Luigibonus: I’m a hobbyist game dev from the Netherlands, who is also very much into level design (probably very obvious!), and am the co-founder of Level Share Square (LSS), together with The Flying Dutchman (TFD). Outside of game development, I am also a web developer, and also a lover of taking long walks and bike trips, very rarely skipping a day.

Together with my team I currently manage LSS and 2 of its games, with lots of passion.

@mrgerund: I’m The Flying Dutchman (Yes, I’m also dutch, although I haven’t met up with LB yet), my actual name is Jeron, I create the update videos on the LSS youtube channel for SMC, I’m heavily involved with managing/recruiting new volunteer developers for the game.

I’m also a founder of our level sharing site “Level Share Square” just like my good friend Luigibonus. I’m the primary developer of the LSS site and strive to turn it into the best it can be for the community, which I’ve been part of for over a decade now.

@Vortoxium: I am Vortoxium [like my handle says] or also just Vox, formerly known as Lord Dominator. I joined the SMC Team as a programmer around July 2023 while I’ve been on the YFS Team [also as a programmer] since July 2022. I am from Germany and currently 22 years old. I became interested in the community after I watched the F3 2021 presentation by Kaze, which included YFS as one of its items. So I joined the SMC & YFS Discord Server in August 2021 after having built my first YFS Level called “Flowery Hills”.

@TheCrushedJoycon: I’m TheCrushedJoycon (simply Joycon for short). I come from the United States and I’m mainly a composer and spriter, who creates assets mainly based off of the 2D Mario and Sonic games. I officially joined the SMC dev team shortly after Thanksgiving 2023, and I am now one of the main composers for the game.

@Deadfesh: I am fesh, I sprite and occasionally try to push qol improvements. Im currently 21 and am pursuing a bachelor’s degree in college. I joined in 2021 as a spriter for some enemies. I’m not as active as I would like, but balancing other projects and life leaves you with little time.

@retrox_fox: I’m one of the main spriters for Super Mario Construct. I go by Nitrox (also go by Nitro, Retro, or Retrox) and I am a long term member of the Super Mario Flash community. I’m 21 years old and art is one of my main passions. I don’t just make pixel art.

In fact, I draw digital art most of the time and design original characters. I am pursuing Graphic Arts in college to hopefully use my art skills to achieve more. I mainly work on the tilesets, course objects, and backgrounds for SMC. I joined as a spriter in late 2019 during the Winter Update. (if I remember correctly.)

@Smuglutena: I’m also another spriter on the team. The name’s Smuglutena, though you can just call me Smug. I’m 21, and I mostly do pixel art, though art as a whole has been an interest of mine for as long as I can remember. I still remember doodles of Mario enemies I made way back in kindergarten, they’re definitely lost to time at this point, but it’s one of my earliest memories of drawing as a whole. Level design too has been another passion of mine, which is why Super Mario Construct, and its predecessors, Super Mario Flash and its sequel, have been on my radar. My plan for the road ahead is a little foggy, though I just roll with the punches and take each day as is. My main work for SMC consists of character sprites, some tileset and palette work, along with some UI elements. If memory serves me right, I joined around early 2020, around the time the water update rounded off and the volcano update was starting.

How did you get into gaming? What was your first game?

@Luigibonus: I got into gaming in 2006, when I was 5 or 6 years old. A bit later than my friends at the time, which means I missed out a little on the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube era, and instead got a DS Lite around when it came out.

Despite that, I did play some early PC games. I believe my first game was a point-and-click adventure called Pajama Sam, and another platformer I unfortunately do not remember the name of, but it was very old!

Pajama Sam Cover

This was the series that introduced LuigiBonus to gaming

@mrgerund: Flash games are my childhood, which is the primary reason I stuck with this community for so long. I have been into many different games such as Runescape, Minecraft, Legends of Runeterra and a lot of single player games!

@Vortoxium: My father had bought a Nintendo 64 for my 2 half-siblings sometime around 1998. Super Mario 64 came along with the console when it was bought, but once my mother got pregnant with me in 2000 my father bought her The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Yoshi’s Story. She gifted the console and the 3 games to me when I was around 5 or 6 years old because at that point in time my half-siblings weren’t living at our place anymore and they hadn’t taken the console with them. So realistically all of the above mentioned games had been my first games.

Ocarina of Time Box Art

Either this game or Yoshi’s Story was Vortoxium’s first game

@Deadfesh: The first ever video game I played was some Spongebob plug n play when I was 3. I enjoyed video games because it was as if I were participating in a cartoon episode for me. I was watching tons of early morning game shows with my mother, and liked the aspect of a game on television.

@retrox_fox: I got into gaming when I was around 4-5. I started on a leapster, then a plug and play, and finally the thing that sparked my interest in gaming as a whole was both my Game Boy Color and my Nintendo DS Lite. I was gifted both at similar times, the Gameboy was packed with games like Pokemon Red, SMB1 Deluxe, and Tetris. The DS Lite had games such as Pokemon Diamond, New Super Mario Bros. DS, and Mario Kart DS. My first game I played when I started gaming was Pokemon Red. I grew fascinated with all of these characters and being able to control them myself.

@TheCrushedJoycon: The first game I ever played was New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but I don’t really consider it as my first true exposure to gaming. That title goes to Sonic the Hedgehog for the Genesis, since that was the first game I got really hooked on. Soon after, I started picking up Sonic 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Sonic Spinball, and Sonic 3D Blast. I wouldn’t get back into the Mario games until years later when I played Mario Super Sluggers on the Wii.

@Smuglutena: I remember starting off with a Leapster when I was a lil tyke, I don’t remember the names of the games I had, but I remember having a Spongebob and a Cars game, along with a few other misc ones that probably came with the system itself. That planted the first seeds to what would become a big passion of mine. From there, my parents got a Wii for the family (mostly my mom, cuz she would end up playing Guitar Hero with a lot of her friends lol), and I remember at first not being interested in it. But once I warmed up to it, I got a few games for it too. Cars Race-o-Rama being one I spent a ton of time in before really delving into stuff like Mario.

What about your first Mario game?

@Luigibonus: I vividly remember the first time I was introduced to a Mario game was being shown New Super Mario Bros. DS, and in particular a level in the snow world where Mario slides down a large icy hill.

Despite remembering that detail, I don’t actually remember what Mario game I played first for myself, but it was very likely Mario Kart DS, and after that the (underrated) DS port of Super Mario 64.

Mario Kart DS Box Art

@mrgerund: New Super Mario Bros Wii has to be my first Mario game ever which I actually played instead of glared at when I was a kid. The ones which I did glare at as a kid I don’t quite remember unfortunately.

@Vortoxium: Super Mario 64. It was within the batch of N64 games which my mother gave me when she gifted me the console like I mentioned above.

@Deadfesh: Mine was NSMB DS, when I was 5, the novelty of having a portable game system in long car rides was heaven for me.

New Super Mario Bros Box Art

This was Deadfesh’s first Mario game

@retrox_fox: I will talk about two Mario games since I started playing them at relatively the same time. I 100% SMB1 Deluxe before middle school growing up as I loved seeing all the levels being filled with icons. The game has an incredible amount of polish and charm, being an underrated gem. New Super Mario Bros. DS gave me the best memories and was right after SMB1 Deluxe. I absolutely loved using the Blue Shell power-up to blast through levels, finding out about Luigi, and doing glitches I saw online. I still look back very fondly of NSMB DS as it was a very creative and unique experience. I feel many of the NSMB games that came after it missed that creative aspect.

@TheCrushedJoycon: The first Mario game I ever played was New Super Mario Bros. Wii. I used to play it with my older brother back in the day, though I wasn’t really good at it at the time.

@Smuglutena: My very first Mario game… I’d have to say I remember finding a site for emulators and ended up stumbling across the original Super Mario Bros way back in the day. It’s a pretty vivid memory, so I could be wrong. Though the first Mario game I actually ended up owning could be a few options. I remember one Christmas morning (I don’t remember how old I was), I got gifted both Super Paper Mario and Super Mario Galaxy, so they’re most likely the first Mario games I truly owned and played. And I still have very fond memories of them, especially Galaxy 2. I remember finding that 1UP trick in that galaxy full of giant enemies on my own, and bragging about it to all my friends, simpler times where simple stuff like that was really huge to my young lil mind.

Which games are you playing at the moment?

@Luigibonus I don’t actually play a lot of modern games, although I did check out Sonic Frontiers and am currently playing Yooka-Laylee 6 years after the craze, and those games definitely have their ups and downs. However, I’ve been really enjoying Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed on Steam, it’s honestly in my opinion one of the best kart racers out there. I believe it actually outperforms Mario Kart 8 in many aspects, despite Transformed being over a decade old. You can find me in the online lobbies often! (Oh, and it has Wreck it Ralph… that makes it perfect)

@mrgerund: I of course play LB’s lovely games, but more primarily I love to play Legends of Runeterra in my spare time, a very new player friendly card game. As for the less replayable games, I’m currently playing the latest update of ‘Skul: The Hero Slayer’, a platformer roguelite. I recently finished Trine 5, a puzzle platformer & a hidden gem of a game. Let’s also not forget Ori and The Blind Forest/The Will of the Wisps, which have to be my favourite games ever created.

@Vortoxium: A game I like to always come back to over time is The Binding of Isaac: Repentance, though there are also some long periods of time where I don’t really play any games at all. League of Legends is another game I occasionally check out from time to time, though I definitely am not as active in it anymore as I once was.

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@Deadfesh: I play alot of first person shooter games like Doom and Serious Sam. Ive recently
picked up Lethal Company and it’s a blast.

@retrox_fox: Oh my, I am playing my favourite game of all time, Celeste. Celeste means the world to me and I can’t thank it enough for hard times I’ve had in my life. I’ve recently started joining the modding scene by trying out the biggest Celeste mod there is, Strawberry Jam. Other games I am playing are The Binding of Isaac: Repentance modded, Mario Kart 8 (Sorry Luigibonus), and Spirit of the North.

@TheCrushedJoycon: I don’t really play much besides The original Super Mario Bros. and the Genesis Sonic Trilogy. This is mainly due to my focus being more on making games instead of playing them.

@Smuglutena: I’m a little all over the place at the moment with the games I’m currently playing, bouncing from titles I’ve been meaning to play for a while, alongside recommendations from friends. But to kinda give a mix of stuff I’ve been playing; Pizza Tower’s a game I’ve been following since around 2019 with the SAGE demo catching my attention, absolutely adore how the game turned out in the end, absolutely worth the wait.

Also including the mods it brought as well, such as Scoutdigo and United, the former bringing a ton of new content to the game, and the latter allowing for online multiplayer.

Sonic 3 & Knuckles (Namely through Sonic 3 A.I.R., an enhanced version of the title) is still a title I often return to just for how easy it is to pick up and play, and the sheer amount of fun that game brings despite it going through so much developmental turmoil. For games I’ve been recommended, Nitro gushed about Celeste in his blurb, and he got me into it too, having a blast with it! I feel a little guilty that I didn’t try it sooner honestly, because it’s been on my radar for a decent while.

How did you get into game development?

@Luigibonus: After level designing in various existing tools for multiple years as a hobby, I delved into game development in around 2017, which felt like the next natural step. I actually have some (much smaller) unfinished fangames I prototyped over the years I would like to finish someday.

@Vortoxium: Mainly through my interest in YFS. I didn’t really have much programming experience beforehand even though I had tried to make some games with engines other than Construct 3 [This is the engine SMC and YFS use]. My own projects didn’t have much longevity so I thought being on a team would keep my interest for longer. I mainly just designed levels for YFS before I became an official programmer on it. LuigiBonus’ willingness to help me when I had problems with the engine or programming helped a lot as well to keep my motivation once I did become a developer on YFS.

@Deadfesh: some games stood out to me as low quality and just really bad, and I’ve always thought about how a game could be improved. Though 7 year old me did not have the tools or know how on how to make games.

@retrox_fox: I’ve always wanted to become an artist for a game while I was in school, Super Mario Construct is my first role as an artist for a game, though I made some very small and lacking games before being in Super Mario Construct. Working on stuff that has made me entertained in the majority of my life is generally something that interests me. I want to show off my art to the world, and working on video games helps with that.

@TheCrushedJoycon: Initially I started thinking about making Sonic-style games after being exposed to the fangame scene, but over time, I started to see the potential of making my own games instead of building off of other games. Though It’ll be a while before I have my first outing, it definitely is on the horizon.

@Smuglutena: I haven’t done much in terms of game design prior to SMC, however I’ve always enjoyed the idea of working with various game styles and trying to replicate them to the best of my ability, it’s almost like a puzzle in a way. And SMC only further pushed that idea, it’s been a really huge help in improving my skills and confidence. A little unrelated, but prototypes of games also piqued my interest in game design, just visually seeing the workflow of how a game goes from an unfinished project with ideas all up in the air, to the final product in the end, fascinating stuff. Although, now that you mention the idea of game design, I do want to create a game of my own potentially, mostly a mix of various games I’ve enjoyed, with a focus on finding secrets with upgrades and having a really fluid moveset to work with. It’d be hard to condense it all into a small blurb.

What about Mario fan games?

@Luigibonus: Back in the day, I was an avid enjoyer of flash-based Mario games. No really, I played what I felt was like 100s of games. The ease of quickly dropping into a game like these Flash games is something I wanted to carry over to my own.

@mrgerund: This community is all about level design due to its roots of SMF, but after Luigibonus took it in his own hands to push the community forward with a new game to survive the end of flash, I naturally ended in my current position due to my ability to lead, though of course not always as perfectly, since I couldn’t handle the position to lead over at our partner Super Mario 127, where I resigned over a year ago now.

@Vortoxium: If this question is about what the first Mario fan game I played was, it would have to be Super Mario 63. Though I remember having checked out Super Mario Bros. X as well in around the same time frame.

Mario fights King Bob-omb in Super Mario 63

Super Mario 63 was the first Mario fan game Vortoxium ever played

There was another fan game called “Super Mario Defence” which I played quite a lot too. It’s like a 2D Tower Defence game where you have to defend your castle from the good guys by placing enemies and objects on the map. It has around 20 levels which increase in difficulty over time if I recall correctly. I think it was pretty creative, even if it was a little rough around the edges.

There were some more Mario fan games that I remember playing for very short amounts of time since they included imagery that I thought was disturbing as a child. One of those is A Koopa’s Revenge, which I’m pretty sure has you turning your enemies into bloody puddles when you jump on them.

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@Deadfesh: It was some flash game browser that had it in its collection. Mario Flash was a game changer for younger me. I didn’t end up tackling level creation until 12.

@TheCrushedJoycon: At first, I started experimenting with Mario level editors. Such includes the Super Mario Flash Trilogy, Super Mario 63, Mario Builder, Mario Editor, Super Mario Bros. X, and my current platform, Mari0. I used those to draft concepts for potential levels, and by extension, games. So now that I’m part of the SMC development, this is my first official Mario fangame project.

@retrox_fox: I grew up playing Super Mario Flash 1 and 2 on the school computers, making levels to share them on a level sharing site. It would teach me about the world of fangames as I started to play other fan games like Mario Flashback and Super Mario Bros. X. Now that I am working with the SMC dev team, I can safely say this fangame is what young me dreamed of for a Mario level editor.

@Smuglutena: A ton of fangames at the time really piqued my interest. Like I mentioned prior, both Super Mario Flash games were at the forefront of my childhood, creating levels felt like an actual dream come true. Other games came and went as well, like Mario Builder, Mario Worker, SMBX, Super Mario 63, all great games in their own right, though with an added level editor added to them, only further enhanced the experience in my eyes. It basically meant the game was endless with the amount of content that was produced for them, and could be produced on your own.

What fan games are your favourite, outside of your own work?

@Luigibonus: Out of the ones in development, I like Super Mario 127 quite a bunch. I don’t directly work on the game, but I know the team well and like to support them where I can. Some classic fangames I remember fondly are Super Mario Pearls of Wisdom, Power Bomberman (which is still around to this day with an active community) and Logan Kart 8.

Super Mario 127 Banner

Super Mario 127 is one of Luigibonus’ favourite Mario fan games

I also played and really liked New Super Mario Bros. 3, which is a ROM-hack based on NSMB DS that re-created SMB3 levels in NSMB DS.

@mrgerund: I wish Super Mario 127 the best, the direction is very ambitious, but could become one of the best fan games ever if executed well.

@Vortoxium: I’m not sure if ROM Hacks count as fan games, but if they do I’d say “Dawn and Dusk” is a really impressive Ocarina of Time hack that other OoT hacks should definitely take a slice off.

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For SM64 ROM Hacks I wouldn’t even be sure what to pick as there are so many great ones. I’ll choose “Super Mario 74” by Lugmillord though since it pathed the way for future SM64 hacks. It was one of the first full-sized SM64 hacks with lots of difficult custom maps and a giant star count. It doesn’t look as impressive as most other hacks nowadays, but its legacy and what it meant to the SM64 hacking community is still really groundbreaking.

@Deadfesh: I don’t think any fan game has stood out to me as much as psycho Waluigi. It’s
quite hard but a really solid fangame.

@TheCrushedJoycon: The best fan made game I’ve played is Super Mario Dolor. While it did unfortunately get hit with a Nintendo ban, for a time, it was a really unique fangame with the way it adapted horror to the standard 2D Mario formula.

@retrox_fox: As I said earlier, Super Mario Flashback is one of my favourites mostly due to how I used to enjoy it back in the day. It modernises but also is faithful to the Mario series, acting as a sort of celebration-esque feel.

Onto Super Mario Construct now. What made you decide to create this game?

Super Mario Construct Title

@Luigibonus: Super Mario Construct is made to continue the legacy of the Super Mario Flash series, which were other popular fangames at the time. As the name implies though, they were made in Flash, which is now discontinued.

Since then Super Mario Construct has more or less evolved into its own thing, but the core principle of quickly booting up a game to make a level, without any deep level editor learning curves, still remains!

And what are the big things that separate it from Super Mario Bros X, Lunar Magic, Super Mario Flash, Super Mario Unimaker, etc? What’s the big differentiating point?

Super Mario Bros X Title Screen

Super Mario Bros X is another popular Mario level editor

@Luigibonus: That is a very good question. In the end it’s different philosophies for how the level making experience goes. With editors like Super Mario Maker, the editor is designed to be as easy as possible for anyone to understand and make a level (that is absolutely fine of course!)

But in order to achieve its simplicity, it leaves out many advanced features that more advanced level makers may expect – separate layers, individual object customization, control over backgrounds & effects, NPCs that tell a story throughout the level, etc.

With Lunar Magic, it’s actually the opposite – you have complete control over the ROM. If you know assembly (hats off to the people who can), you can basically do anything within the bounds of the SNES limitations. The key issue of course, you need to be an experienced assembly programmer.

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Super Mario Construct aims to include the best of both worlds. The user can quickly delve into the editor to make a level, and there’s also lots of (optional) advanced features at the user’s fingertips if they desire to use them, such as object tagging (e.g. making a platform move when hitting a block).

Did any of those editors inspire you here?

@Luigibonus: Yes! As mentioned earlier, SMC aims to continue the legacy of Super Mario Flash, which was easy to use and offered some neat advanced features such as multiple layers (in the second and third game), music updaters and camera locks.

The UI and menus are mostly inspired by the level editors in the Mario VS Donkey Kong series.

Mario vs Donkey Kong Level Editor

The Super Mario Construct editor was inspired by the one from the Mario vs Donkey Kong series

What are some of your favourite features here?

@mrgerund: SMC takes a lot of creative liberties to transform existing content, one of my favourite features has to be a bean, which grows a vine when broken. It’s so simple yet so versatile since you can keep spawning them.

@Vortoxium: SMC’s effects are really impressive, they can transform the atmosphere of your level tremendously. There is for example a silhouette effect which [you guessed it] turns every sprite into a single-colour silhouette. You can pick the silhouette colour as well so it doesn’t have to exclusively be black.

There’s also some other cool effects like rain and snow, where each particle gets individually created instead of being some scrolling background like in most older games with weather effects.

Super Mario Construct Rain Effect

You can easily add rain to your Super Mario Construct levels

Another cool feature of SMC is the Map Snap Tool, it creates a PNG file of your whole map so every part of it can be seen at once! Gone are the days where you would need to make a screenshot of every inch of your level and then just painstakingly stitch it together in Paint if you wanted to have a whole file. Having felt that pain too many times is why I created this tool for both YFS and then later for SMC.

@retrox_fox: The Layering system and flexibility with features is something that stands out to me in Super Mario Construct. Being able to create unique gimmicks and level themes by combining things together is quite fun. For example, having blocks with gravity being pushed up by currents for a puzzle level, or trying to transport a present block so you can safely open it in a hard level. The accessibility options are very nice for testing levels as well, such as the frame advance, the invincibility, and the spyglass too allowing you to see hidden stuff only seen in the editor, but while testing the level.

Why did you decide to go for a Super Mario World based style, rather than SMB 1, 3, etc?

@Luigibonus: The 3 Super Mario Flash games were based on SMAS SMB1, SMW and then SMAS SMB3, but SMW was ultimately the most popular one amongst the three.

However, as of SMC Version 8, a second game style has been added based on SMAS SMB1, just like SMF1!

How about the themes for the editor? How do you decide which themes to add here?

Autumn Themed Level

Super Mario Construct includes lots of new themes, like this Autumn/Halloween one

@retrox_fox: Since I am the one who is the artist behind most tilesets that get into the game, I have a lot to say about this question. All the tilesets that are added to SMC go through a process of several ideas and context. Such as ‘how would this be useful for level makers?’ or ‘Is this a theme people would actually want to use?’ being necessary to a tileset and theme’s creation.

Tilesets need to fit with the game style and be unique enough where it doesn’t feel shoehorned in. If a tileset has appeared in other games and is popular in the Mario community, then it is a likely candidate for SMC.

Some tilesets also need to be modified to fit with the context of the game itself. Super Mario World’s style needs more cartoony and prehistoric looks, while SMB1 Super Mario All Stars tilesets will have a more complex and lively energy.

And how do you create the graphics for them? Obviously, some are rips, but there are plenty of awesome new sprites and tiles too…

@retrox_fox: I use Piskel, a free and online sprite art editor. I tend to give myself one to three concepts of a tileset or course object and decide which one I like the best. If I can’t decide then I will ask my fellow spriter friends about the manor. Trying to learn a game’s art style can be tedious and hard to grasp at first. Having worked on Super Mario Construct over the years has given me the practice and knowledge to work with the limitations of a game’s look. Super Mario World having a more limited and sometimes inconsistent style allows for some creative freedom here and there, while also using limitations to keep it looking true to the game. Super Mario All Stars has a more unique and experimental style, using more colours and having more animations and polish when it comes to the art style.

@mrgerund: Ideas get thrown around by everyone on how to interpret a certain sprite, the spriters create something amazing afterwards which resembles the OG style.

@Vortoxium: There’s a team of spriters on the SMC Team who create most of the custom assets.

Out of all the members in the team, the spriters make the largest group with 7 people overall while both the programmers and composers just consist of 2 people for each group.

@Smuglutena: One thing I really enjoy doing before making anything is the research process. Looking up on a particular enemy or character, seeing their history, obscure bits of media, and how I could potentially apply that to my sprite(s). One of my favourite examples would probably be Rosalina. Her design in the SMAS SMB style uses a slightly modernised design of her beta design found in some early bits of concept art, with the differently designed dress and the beehive style haircut. It was a fun challenge using that design as a base and twisting it in a way where she could still be recognizable. Her SMW sprite has some unique star patterns on her dress, not normally there in most of her incarnations.

However the Smash Bros series introduced that design detail for her, and thus, I felt it was fitting to include in the SMW style, seeing the potential for a somewhat cartoony dress design was there. Pauline was another character who fell into this category, with her SMAS SMB design being based off of “Lady”, her earlier design from the Donkey Kong arcade game, with blonde, messier hair and a different outfit. Her design in SMW is more based off of her Donkey Kong ‘95 design, as I felt it made a little more sense for the timeline, and that design felt a little bit cartoonier for SMW’s style, kind of Jessica Rabbit feeling if I had to make a comparison. It’s a fun lil puzzle to solve.

There are also a nice mix of items and mechanics to use too, including enemies and items not usually seen in Super Mario World. How did you decide what to include there?

Non SMW Enemies

Plenty of non Super Mario World enemies are usable in Super Mario Construct, as shown here

@mrgerund: Updates get themed around a big/core feature we want in the game, then goodies get thrown on the schedule based upon what fits the theme or is very common to have or in high demand if it’s manageable.

@Vortoxium: Like MrGerund said above there is generally a schedule which guides us and helps to make decisions, but there are also moments when additions get made pretty spontaneously as well.

Onto Yoshi’s Fabrication Station now. What made you decide to make a Yoshi’s Island based level editor here?

Yoshi's Fabrication Station Title Screen

Yoshi’s Fabrication Station lets you make Yoshi’s Island style levels in a web browser

@Luigibonus: I was honestly surprised that there was no Yoshi’s Island based level editor out there, even 26 years after its release. There is Golden Egg, which is the Lunar Magic for Yoshi’s Island, but is no longer maintained (and also very limited due to the YI ROM not being flexible).

Ultimately, I decided to take on the challenge to do it myself based on the experience I obtained from making a level editor prior. And even though Yoshi’s Fabrication Station isn’t as big as SMC, I’m happy how it turned out, with some more big updates planned for it in the future!

And how did you get the mechanics working? It’s surprisingly faithful to the original game…

Example Yoshi's Island Level

You can include a surprising amount of Yoshi’s Island mechanics in your level, as shown here

@Luigibonus: There aren’t any charts I could find on the physics and speeds data that the original game uses, so I ended up just brute forcefully recording both Yoshi jumping in the original, in Fabrication Station, compared the recordings side-by-side, and just tweaked the values until they matched up. Thankfully tho, Nintendo seems to prefer using numbers divisible by 8, e.g. 32, 64, 160, etc. which made this process a lot quicker as I didn’t have to delve deep into finding magic numbers.

Do you plan to include content from other Yoshi games here? Like Yoshi’s Island DS, Touch & Go, New Island, etc?

@Luigibonus: Absolutely! For now, though we are mainly focussing on the original YI, but it’s possible we can add some smaller features from other Yoshi games in the meantime too.

@Vortoxium: There are some things added from those games already in fact. Examples include the pink thorns from Yoshi’s Island DS and the red spikes from Yoshi’s Story.

Pink Thorns Available

The pink thorns from Yoshi’s Island DS are already available here

Another feature I hope we will add in the future are the different babies from Yoshi’s Island DS. They would provide some nice variation in level design since they change Yoshi’s physics and abilities.

How about custom tiles and objects? Are these coming in the future?

@Luigibonus: It’s likely, though probably not very often, since working with the Yoshi’s Island art style takes lots more time and effort, and we currently just have 1 spriter that helps out with YFS sprites.

@Vortoxium: While there aren’t any custom objects or tiles in the game at the moment we already got some variations of existing objects like for example the silver rimmed !-Switch and the gold rimmed !-Switch, with the latter respawning infinitely while the former doesn’t respawn once it’s used. Another custom variation of an object in YFS are the dotted red coins, which only appear in the period a !-Switch is activated.

What are some of your favourite levels made with Super Mario Construct and Yoshi’s Fabrication Station?

@Luigibonus: I’ve played so many levels, from classic levels to really impressive technical ones like replicating Rock, Paper, Scissors. If I had to give an example of a level that perfectly captures the essence of SMC though, it would be ‘Jipe Jungle DX’.

And my favourite YFS level currently would have to be ‘Secret Aqueducts of the Maan Tribe’

@mrgerund: There’s too much to remember for me personally, though I want to give an honourable mention to “rock, paper, scissors” being made inside of SMC. I can’t wait to see what people will do with future features like palettes, scrolling layers and scripting.

@Vortoxium: I’ve seen some impressive stuff being made in both editors, but “The Moonlit Fluttership” is one of the best levels I’ve ever seen anyone make in YFS. The creator of the level, Kelux93, generally has made a lot of awesome YFS courses that I recommend checking out.

Another good YFS level creator is Sara, she made a ton of levels that are very traditional, but also unique from other courses. If you didn’t know better you could assume some of these are straight from Nintendo.

The last YFS creator I want to give a shout-out to is called Pierre. He joined the YFS community relatively late compared to the former creators I mentioned. Despite that he has quickly developed some great levels that are very traditional like Sara’s levels, but perhaps even more refined than hers.

A singular YFS level I want to bring attention to is “Vox & Friends, Inc.™ Mega Super Fun Tall Level” … now I know the title might sound a little silly, but it’s actually a level made by 14 different people. So far it is the largest YFS level ever made, requiring around 1-2 hours to beat it or even longer if you want to 100% it by collecting all collectables. Both me and LuigiBonus worked on the level, but there’s also a lot of other well-known members of the community who built large chunks of it. The level had been developed over the turbulent span of almost 2 years with lots of ups and downs so it was quite the relief when it was finally able to be released in August 2023.

For SMC there is a really solid level creator called Bowser Jr [Without a dot at the end] and he hasn’t made that many levels in SMCv8 so far, but the stuff he has created in it is very well designed.

All of these people and levels can be found on Level Share Square too, so if anyone is interested make sure to check them out.

@retrox_fox: There’s too many creative and unique levels for me to just pick a few. Although, If I had to choose three I would personally pick ‘Twilight Trek’ by happygav123, ‘The Forest of Blazin’ Souls’ by Mandrut2003, and of course ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors!’ by Just Nothing. The combination of good level design, unique gameplay, and great theming alone helps make levels incredibly memorable and a good showcase of some of Super Mario Construct’s potential.

@Smuglutena: It’d be impossible for me to decide a favourite level or creator if I had to be completely honest. Although one thing that’s true for a large number of levels I’ve seen, the sheer creativity a lot of designers have with using all of SMC’s available assets is genuinely inspiring. Even when SMC started its rework for v8, starting from square one with minimal assets, the creativity never staggered. Again, I’d love to give you guys a concise answer, but there’s too many examples of phenomenal, creative design I’ve seen all over LSS and the SMC Discord server. Hats off to everyone.

What’s it like making apps like this as web apps? They run really well performance wise and seem way more stable than many similar apps do…

@Luigibonus: Like with anything there are upsides and downsides, but SMC and YFS and web apps felt like the right choice, as it’s super easy to just open up and start editing or playing which captures the essence of the games. As for the excellent performance, I try hard to make the games as lightweight as possible, but this is obviously also partly thanks to the web having come a long way… this wouldn’t be possible a decade ago!

Have you considered making mobile versions of either tool? Or at least, non-browser based ones for mobile?

@Vortoxium: Both SMC and YFS can technically already run on mobile devices, though the tools for having more touch-support are limited at the moment. It is planned to improve the compatibility for mobile devices in the future though.

Super Mario Construct Mobile

Technically Super Mario Construct works on mobile, though it’s not the best way to play…

Both Super Mario Construct and Yoshi’s Fabrication Station use Level Share Square for hosting levels, which is used for a few other fan games too. What made you and the team decide to create this separate site?

@mrgerund We’ve always had a level sharing site, but after 2 sites meeting the end of their life, we had to take matters in our own hands and have something new built by and for the community. Level Share Square gives us full control over the platform instead of having to resort to Discord, it also makes it possible to host levels of more than one game and highly increase the security of the sharing platform by creating a division in what makes you a developer for a game and what makes you a developer for the hosting site. Another great benefit of having our own site is to have a fully safe space which anyone of any age can view without the need of an account.

And how do you decide which fan games can have categories there? Will other fan
games get added to the service in future?

@mrgerund: If you can make levels in it and if it has enough potential to perform well, then it’s open to being accepted by the site. We’re also open to basically any franchise, including your own.

@Vortoxium: There are plans to add a Super Mario 64 Level Editor by Rovert and Arthurtilly called “Mario Builder 64” to the site, though the release date and if it will be on there at all aren’t certain yet as the game itself is not publicly available at this point in time.

Either way, both your level editors and the LSS website are really popular, with tons of users making levels for said games. How does it feel seeing your work do this well?

@Luigibonus: I like to end each day by just playing one of the new levels submitted to LSS that day, and every time I am very glad how many people are entertained by our passion projects. That’s one of the most fun things about game development!

@mrgerund: I’m happy there’s a bright future ahead for our community and I want to thank everyone who has helped us out, stuck around through thick n thin or even done something as simple as play a level or watch a video.

@retrox_fox: It’s beyond surreal honestly. Seeing our passion project becoming something loved by many. We wouldn’t have gotten to this point without the fans who have supported us.

A few years ago I was very uncertain of the quality of my work, seeing it develop and people using it in their levels is very warming to see and inspires me to keep making more.

@Smuglutena: I don’t want to parrot Nitro’s response, but it really does feel surreal seeing so many people come up with incredible levels with our silly lil passion project. Everything in action, everything being used in so many different ways, even beyond what we intended, it’s a really incredible feeling. Both just seeing what people can do, along with seeing people genuinely enjoy their time with our game, it’s part of what keeps us going.

Do you have any plans for other fan games in future?

@Luigibonus: Like I mentioned earlier, I want to pick up some of my older, smaller fan projects and get them out there some day. I’m not sure about any other large projects yet, for now I think I wanna focus on polishing SMC and YFS for the time being.

@Vortoxium: I am working on a level editor for the NES Puzzle game “Adventures of Lolo”. It would allow users to create their own little complex puzzle levels within a grid of 11×11 blocks. This may seem like it isn’t much to work with, but a lot of puzzles in the franchise are actually really difficult despite this limitation, especially the third game has some puzzles that can take hours to beat. I was really curious if users would also be able to make some solid puzzles with such a tiny playing field too, though the development on the game has admittedly been rather slow with its fate currently unknown.

YouTube player

Finally, what advice would you give someone looking to get into fan game development, or game development in general?

@Luigibonus: I think one of the most common mistakes is having a really ambitious idea, then trying to execute it in full at the first attempt in making a game. Ideally you should start with a smaller idea, increase your skills/knowledge, and work from there.

Also, planning ahead is important, and also don’t be very hard on yourself. Game development can be a slow process with lots of issues to overcome, but remember the end result will be great.

@mrgerund: Start small or somewhere to fill a gap, whether it’s a mod for a game or helping out with a project of a small community. People want to help you grow and get good at something if a passion is shared, helping lay bricks does wonders to learn how to build the entire house. Getting invited is the easiest way in, but the rarest, so make sure you are ready and know what value you offer and what you stand for

@Vortoxium: I’d advise trying to find some people who also want to work on a project with you. Working on something all by yourself can be demotivating in my experience at least.

@Deadfesh: Be very open to feedback so that your game doesn’t suck. If something is too obscure or complex, make it simpler to use. Always think of the end user, make It easy to pick up, and don’t expect them to know anything at all.

@Smuglutena: Keep an open mind. A lot of ideas and mock-ups are gonna be thrown left and right, with quite a good chunk of it being left on the cutting room floor, but don’t let that discourage you. If something’s scrapped, it’s likely it was scrapped for a good reason. And even with that, old abandoned ideas can still find new use somewhere else. Either in a new context, or in a new game entirely. Again, just be open to everything, be open to everyone, listen to one another, and together, ideas can flourish and become something better than you could’ve initially imagined. So many features in SMC for example, all came together thanks to our collective efforts.

Thanks guys, that’s some great advice there! Personally we feel the points about not getting too attached to scrapped ideas and being open to criticism are some of the most important ones here, both for game developers and artists as a whole.

Because at the end of the day, no one is perfect. No one can include every single one of their ideas in a game or project and have them all land.

So relax, and accept that. Accept that some seemingly good ideas won’t work out and will have to be left on the cutting room floor, and that criticism isn’t a personal attack upon you as a person.

Either way, thanks for the interview guys! It was great to learn more about Super Mario Construct and Yoshi’s Fabrication Station, and it’s left us very excited for what the future of these projects will bring too. Here’s hoping both games have a bright future ahead of them, and we’ll get to see even more amazing levels made with both tools as time goes on.

Still, what did you think of the interview? Did you find it an interesting read? What are your favourite levels made with these two tools?

Leave your thoughts on those questions (and more) in the comments below, on social media, or on our Discord server today!

LuigiBonus/Super Mario Construct Team on Social Media