Yamamura's Dojo

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Yamamura's Dojo

Yamamura's Dojo is a mode in Super Mario Maker 2 where players can view lessons on how to make courses. Yamamura and his assistant Nina teach the player when viewing a lesson. Maker lessons come from three categories: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced, and there are fifteen lessons per category. Players can also view Mario's Moves on all game styles. In the Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, New Super Mario Bros. U and Super Mario 3D World game styles, players can view how to use the Super Leaf, Cape Feather, Propeller Mushroom and Super Bell, respectively. The background music is an arrangement of the World 1 map theme from Super Mario 3D World and changes slightly when viewing Maker Lessons or the Mario's Moves menu. The Maker Lessons use the New Super Mario Bros. U style.

Maker Lessons[edit]

Maker Basics[edit]

Yamamura: Coo. (In this introductory lesson, we'll cover the basics of making courses.)

Nina: The basics are REALLY important, so you should probably pay close attention. The mode we're in right now is called Course Maker.

Yamamura: Coo. (First, we'll explain how to place parts. "Parts" are the various elements you can place in a course.)

Nina: The menu that runs along the top of the screen is called the Palette. This magnifying glass button is the best way to find parts. Tapping it will open the parts menu. The parts menu is where you'll choose which parts you want to put in your level. You can place a part in your level by touching the spot you want to place it. All right, let's practice by placing a ? Block. Good job with those ? Blocks. Very...creative.

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (Keep in mind that there's a limit to how many parts you can place in a course.) Coo..coo. coo coo. (As you can see...parts you recently placed will appear along the Palette for later use.) Coo coo, cooo. (You can quickly check out the parts you placed by running a test.)

Nina: Go ahead and touch the Play button to test your level. If your test didn't go so well, try moving your parts around. To do that, let's touch the Make button to go back to edit mode.

Yamamura: Coo coo coo, coo coo. (After placing parts in edit mode, it's good to quickly test to make sure they're set up right.) Coo coo, coo. (Keep repeating the edit-test process to make your course.)

Nina: Next we'll explain how to erase parts. Press this button to go into erase mode.

Yamamura: Coooo coo. (When in erase mode, simply touch parts to erase them.)

Nina: OK, let's mess around with erase mode for a little while. YOU MONSTER! Those ? Blocks had families! But don't worry-their pain is only temporary. Because we have Undodog on our side! Just hit the button, and this good boy will undo the last action you made. Now then, let's just go ahead and undo our last...action. YAY! The ? Blocks that you brutally erased are back! You're a hero! (Kind of...). Moving right along... Let's talk about some other tools that'll come in handy. Press ZL Button / ZR Button to activate multigrab and copy.

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (This enables you to move many parts at once and copy parts that you've placed.)

Nina: And now for something incredibly handy... The Reset Rocket! Press and hold this button to instantly destroy the world.

Yamamura: Coo coo. (To be clear, it will erase all of the parts from your course so you can start fresh.) Coo coo. (Let's move somewhere with a lot of parts so we can test it out.)

Nina: OK, go ahead and hold down the ignition button. Congratulations. You ruined everything.

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Well then, I guess that's all for the basics of Course Maker.)

Nina: Oh! But first I should probably tell you how to save. Press this button to save or load levels that you've made. "Save early, save often," I always say. Welp...That's it for the basics of Course Maker!


Intro to Making[edit]

Yamamura: Coo, coo coooo. (Before we start making courses. I should probably explain what a "course" is.)

Nina: Courses? Where I'm from we call 'em levels!

Yamamura: coo, COO, coo... (Last time I checked, this was YAMAMURA's Dojo. We call them courses here...) Coo... Coo cucoo. (Ahem... A course is the space that Mario travels across from the starting point all the way to the goal.) Coo coo coo, coo, Coo. (On his way to the goal, he'll likely encounter various obstacles and enemies. Let's take a look.) Coo coo. (Courses always begin from the starting point.) Coo coo. (From here, Mario will head toward the goal.) Coo coo coo, coo. (If he can make it all the way to the goal, he'll clear the course.) Coo coo. (In short, the course is everything between the start point and the goal.) Coo coo, coo. (That's a basic overview of courses, though I'm sure it's old news to anyone who's played a Mario game before.)

Nina: Have fun making levels!

Workflow Basics[edit]

Yamamura: Coo coo. (If you haven't played Super Mario Maker before, you might not know the first thing about making a course.) Coo. (So we are going to show you how.)

Nina: Wait... We're gonna make an entire level? Like...right now?

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Yes. We are going to create a simple course.)

Nina: Aww yeah! Take it away, Kawamura!

Yamamura: COO! Coo coo? (MY NAME IS YAMAMURA! All right, let's start with some terrain, shall we?) Cooo coo. (Next, we'll make some platforms that force Mario to jump.) Coo, coo. (OK, Nina. Please test the course of me.)

Nina: Easy peasy!

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Indeed. Now I'll go ahead and build until the goal.)

Nina: You have a lot of Ground in there. How about an enemy or two to spice things up?

Yamamura: Coo. (Good idea, human. I'll add some Goombas and Koopa Troopas.) Coo. Coo. (OK, give it a shot, Nina.)

Nina: Nice. It was definitely harder than the first half.

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo. (Most enemies move, which forces the player to have good timing.) Coo coo. (When making a course, think about how you want the player to feel during each moment.)

Nina: Placing and erasing parts is a snap, so unleash your inner mad scientist!

On Inspiration[edit]

Nina: Sometimes making a level can feel overwhelming because there are just so many options!

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo. (In times like that, it helps to have some kind of inspiration for the course you're making.) Coo, coo. (So let's talk about different sources of inspiration.) Coo, coo coo. (The area you see here is a simple series of platforms for Mario to jump on.) Cooo coo? (So what can we do to make this area more exciting?)

Nina: Ooh! Place an enemy on the highest platform! Then maybe the enemy will drop down to challenge Mario.

Yamamura: Coo. (Very well. Let's try putting an enemy there.) Coo coo, coo. (The single Goomba made this area slightly more challenging.)

Nina: Pshh. One Goomba? Wake me up when there's a real challenge.

Yamamura: Coo, coo? (You want more enemies, do you?) Coo, coo. (There you go, Nina.)

Nina: You're one sick bird...

Yamamura: Coo, coo cooo. (There's a lesson to be learned here. You must strive for balance in all things.) Cooo, coo coo. (As you may have guessed, I used stairs as my inspiration for this area.) Coo coo. (Now we'll change areas and look at another source of inspiration.)

Nina: Whoa! It looks like a house!

Yamamura: Coo cooo, coo. (Yes, Mimicking the shapes of objects can be a great source of inspiration.) Coo coo coo. (Recognizable objects allow you to establish a theme and give your course a story.)

Nina: Yeah, like what if this house was turned into an enemy hideout?!

Yamamura: Coo. (A fine idea.) Coo, coo coo. (To make this feel like an enemy hideout, I added a variety of enemies and obstacles.) coo, coo coo. (As you can see, thinking about the story you want your course to tell makes it feel much more inspired.) Coo, coo? (This area looks much more unique than an area that's nothing but Ground, don't you think?)

Nina: Yeah, all of the Pipes here make this area look awesome!

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (Up until now, we've been talking about using inspiration to shape the terrain.) Coo. (But you can also develop a theme for your course by using primarily one type of object or enemy.)

Nina: In other words, instead of throwing a disconnected jumble of parts into your level, try using a few parts you like in creative ways!

Yamamura: Coo. coo. (Exactly. There are no rules to making a course, but try to put thought into which parts you're using.)

Fixing Mistakes[edit]

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (Sometimes when you're testing a course, you'll notice something that isn't quite right.)

Nina: Yeah, like ALL the time. But I always fix it right away!

Yamamura: Coo coo. (So let's talk about ways to fix mistakes.) Coo, coo. (First, please play through this area, Nina)

Nina: I'm all over it. HEY! The dash button on this controller is busted! There's no way I can make that jump!

Yamamura: Coo coo, coo. (Yes, I sabotaged your controller for demonstration purposes. This gap is too wide for you to jump over. Coo, coo, coo? (So how do you think we can fix this problem, Nina?)

Nina: Uh... You could start by buying me a new controller!

Yamamura: Coo. Coo coo. (Or we could just make the gap smaller.) Coo coo. (Testing each section and fixing it as you go is a good way to improve your course.) Cooo. (When you come across a problem in your course, try fixing it in multiple ways to find a fun solution.)

Nina: Yeah, I still think fixing my controller is the best solution. Seriously, I just bought this thing.

Yamamura: Coo. Coo. (Indeed. Every problem has multiple solutions.)


Nina: OK, there's a path to the goal now. That means our level is finished, right?

Yamamura: Coo. Coo coo? (Not quite. Have you played it from the very beginning?)

Nina: Huh? I guess not. Give it a shot, Yamazaki!

Yamamura: Coo...coo, coo coo. (For the last time, my name is Yamamura.)

Nina: So far so good. AHHHHHHH! Someone call a plumber!

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (I see we made a mistake when building the course.)

Nina: Lemme fix this... Phew... Much better.

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo? (What is this about, Nina?)

Nina: Oh that? Just a little, uh, visual flair. WOAH! I didn't realize that could be an alternate path!

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo, coo. (Sometimes players will do things you don't anticipate.) Coo coo, coo. (When you;re testing your course, try to get into the mind of the player and find alternate routes.) Coo, coo coo coo. (It's best to know all of the ways your course can be played so you can shape your vision.)

Nina: I was so focused on making the top path, that I didn't realize players could take the bottom path.

Yamamura: Coo cooo coo! (It happens to the best of us. And I actually found the bottom path to be more exciting!) Coo, coo, coo coo. (It just goes to show when you think you're done with your course, try playing it from the beginning with fresh eyes.)

Using Parts: Terrain[edit]

Yamamura: Coo, cooo. (In this lesson, we'll be talking about Terrain parts.) Coo. Coo coo. (Lets start with Ground, which is generally used as a foundation to walk on or for making walls.) Coo. (Let's see it in action.) Coo, coo coo. (Placing terrain like so creates platforms that Mario has to jump on.)

Nina: But there's no rule saying that Ground tiles have to be placed on the ground. You can also place them in the air to make floating islands!

Yamamura: Coo cooo. (Next, let's look at Bridges, Semisolid Platforms, and Mushroom Platforms.) Coo, cooo, coo cooo. (These parts are interesting because Mario can jump through them from below to get on them, but he can't get through them from above.) Coo. (Also, let me show you something.) Coo, cooo? (Nina, do you think you can get these four Coins?)

Nina: The ones in the middle? Easy peasy! Noooo! The walls are too high. I can't get out!

Yamamura: Coo... Coo coo. (Heh heh heh... Remember to keep in mind how high Mario can jump when designing your course.)

Using Parts: Blocks[edit]

Yamamura: Coo coo. (The Brick Block and ? Block parts are some of the most versatile and iconic tools in your Maker toolbox.)

Nina: Mario can walk on Brick Blocks and ? Blocks, meaning you can use them as midair platforms.

Yamamura: Coo. (Let's try walking on some Brick Blocks.) Cooo. (Next, I'm going to place some ? Blocks.) Coo cooo. (You can put various parts inside of a ? Block.) Cooo, coo. (Whatever you've placed inside the ? Block will pop out when Mario hits it.)

Nina: Oh, yeah! Let's stuff some parts in these ? Blocks. Let's go, Super Mushroom!

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Ah yes. That's a power-up item.)

Nina: Trampoline time, bay-bee!

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Yes, you can put certain Gizmos in them too.)

Nina: And I'll stick a Goomba in here!

Yamamura: Coo, coo, co- (OK, that's an odd choice, but-)

Nina: Last but not least, a Green Koopa Troopa!

Yamamura: Coo coo... Coo. Coo coo. (I'm getting too old for this.. Go ahead and play it. Nina.)

Nina: Try and stop me! ...Huh, it's kind of annoying when enemies come out of ? Blocks.

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (When a player hits a ? Block, they expect to find something good inside.) Coo cooo coo. Coo, coo. (I recommend you avoid putting enemies in them, unless you can think of a fun reason to do so.) Coo. (Finally, we'll cover the Brick Blocks.) Coo coo. (Mario can break Brick Blocks by hitting them while he's powered up.)

Nina: That's right! Small Mario can't break those suckers!

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Let's see what this means in practice.) Cooo, coo coo. (If you break a ledge made of Brick Blocks, you may not be able to clear the course. Think about that when designing.) Coo coo coooo. (Try to avoid creating situations where the player has no option but to restart if they break a Brick Block.)

Using Parts: Enemies[edit]

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Now I'll teach you about Goombas and Koopa Troopas.)

Nina: You probably already know this, but enemies like Goombas and Koopa Troopas will hurt Mario if they run into him!

Yamamura: Cooo. Coo, coo. (Let's observe a wild Goomba in its natural habitat.)

Nina: The Goomba isn't exactly a genius. It keeps moving forward when it reaches the edge of a platform, only turning around when it bumps into a wall.

Yamamura: Coo coo. Coo. (You can defeat a Goomba by stepping on it from above. Like so.) Coo coo. (Next we'll cover Koopa Troopas.) Coo coo, coo. (Watch the movement of the Green Koopa Troopa and the Red Koopa Troopa)

Nina: The Green Koopa Troopa keeps moving forward when it reaches the edge of a platform, whereas the Red Koopa Troopa turns around when it reaches the edge.

Yamamura: Coo coo, coo. (Jumping on the Green Koopa Troopa or the Red Koopa Troopa from above will turn it into a shell and cause it to stop moving.) Coo coo, coo. Coo. (But if you leave them there for a while, they'll pop back out of their shell and start moving again.) Coo coo. (Mario can kick a Koopa Shell by bumping into it from the side.) Coo coo. (It's also a good idea to think about terrains that allows players to use Koopa Shells effectively.)

Nina: I wonder why the green ones and the red ones move differently... Do you think it's cultural or biological?

Yamamura: Coo. Coo coo. Cucoo. (Biological. They're just programmed to move that way. Anyway, there are many other types of enemies as well.) Coo cooo coo coo. (Knowing the characteristics of each enemy type is important when placing them in your course.) Coo, coo coo. (Enemies can create difficulty spikes in your course, so don't go overboard with them.)

Nina: Treat enemies like truffle salt. A little bit goes a long way!

Using Parts: Gizmos[edit]

Yamamura: Coo coo. (In this lesson, we'll be talking about Gizmos.)

Nina: Gizmos are handy for lots of things, including moving Mario around the level.

Yamamura: Coo. (We'll start with Lifts.) Coo coo. (let's look at the Lifts in action.)

Nina: The moving Lifts let you cross wide gaps and reach high places!

Yamamura: Coo coo. Coo. (Next, we'll cover the Trampoline. Take a look.)

Nina: The Trampoline is a great way to let Mario reach high places.

Yamamura: Coo coo, cooo coo. (Player actions can be different depending on the Game Style. There are some Game Styles that allow players to carry Trampolines.) Coo coo. (You can also adjust the size and movement direction of many Gizmos.) Coo. (The Fire Bar is one such Gizmo.) Coo coo coo. (Now I'm going to adjust the length and direction of the Fire Bar rotation.)

Nina: Changing the Fire Bar length and direction can really affect the difficulty of getting past it!

Super Mushrooms[edit]

Yamamura: Coo. (In this lesson, we'll talk about the Super Mushrooms.)

Nina: If Small Mario munches on one of these, he can power up into Super Mario!

Yamamura: Coo. (Let's go get a Super Mushroom.) Coo coo, coo. (Small Mario turned into Super Mario and broke the Brick Block, allowing him to advance through the course.)

Nina: Uh, are you sure it's cool to just leave power-ups lying on the ground like that? Doesn't seem very...sanitary.

Yamamura Coo. Coo coo coo. (Good point. Power-up items should probably be put into ? Blocks to make them feel special.) Coo, coo coo. (With that in mind, I'll put the Super Mushroom in the ? Block.) Coo, coo. (All right, Nina. Give this a try.)

Nina: Mama's feelin' hungry for a Super Mushroom!

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo. (Finally, there's one last thing I'd like you to keep in mind.) Coo, coo cooo coo. (OK, Nina-transform into Super Mario and try to get all the Coins in the next area.)

Nina: You don't have to ask me twice! ACK! I turned back into Small Mario, so I couldn't break the Brick Block! And this stinkin' wall is too high for me to go back, so now I'm stuck FOREVERRRRRR!

Yamamura: Coo cooooo. (Nina's agony, while entertaining, is precisely why it's important to avoid creating areas that trap players.)


Yamamura: Coo. (In this lesson, we'll discuss Coins.) Coo, coo. (Players are naturally drawn toward Coins.) Coo, cucoo. (When creating your course, don't hesitate to exploit the insatiable greed inherent in all human beings.)

Nina: Uh... What?

Yamamura: Coo coo. Coo. Coo cucoo! (I can't really blame you. Without Coins, I couldn't purchase my delicious edamame!) Coo, coo coo. (let's just go ahead and place some Coins.) Coo cooooo, coo. (I placed them strategically to lure Mario toward places I want him to jump to.) Coo, coo. (Nina, play this are and...just do what comes naturally.)

Nina: Wh-where am I? I remember seeing those shiny, beautiful Coins, and next thing I knew, I got Mario to the end!

Yamamura: Coo? Coo coo? (Why do you think that is? Because your Mario skills are second to none?)

Nina: Hmm... No, I just like shiny stuff.

Yamamura: Coo... Coo. (Humans... Now I'll introduce another way to place Coins.) Cooo coo. (First, I'll put a cache of Coins to lure the player where I want them to go.) Co- (This will caus-) Coo! (I wasn't done explaining!)

Nina: Huh?! Where am I?! I saw all of those Coins and just kinda...blacked out. Why did you put all of those beautiful Coins there?

Yamamura: Coo coo, coo coo? (When you see this many Coins lying around, you immediately want to pick them up, don't you?) Coo coo coo coo. (I placed these Coins here to give the player a sense of satisfaction.)

Nina: Wow, Coins are more powerful than I thought...

Yamamura: Coo. (Coins are powerful indeed, but you must use that power responsibly.) Coo, coo... (If you place too many Coins in your course, they'll lose their power. You know, inflation and all that...) Coo, coo, coo. (You should make the player work to get Coins. Humans want that which they cannot have, after all.)


Yamamura: Coo. (When you want parts to move around your course, you use Tracks.)

Nina: Ooh! I love Tracks! They're used to move stuff!

Yamamura: Coo. Coo coo. (I just said that. Let's begin by placing some Tracks.) Coo coo. (You can extend a Track by sliding in the direction that you want it to go.)

Nina: But you can't cross two Tracks over each other, so don't get any big ideas! Mr. Y, what kinds of parts can be placed on Tracks?

Yamamura: Coo. Coo cooo coo. (I'd say most parts can be put on Tracks. Through there are some terrain and Gizmo parts that can't.) Coo coo... (Let's see here...) Coo. (As you can see, I just put a Lift on the Track.)

Nina: Wait... So I can put almost anything on a track? SO MANY POSSIBILITIES!

Yamamura: Coo, coo, coo. (Yes, tracks open up all kinds of gameplay options. Like making vehicles to transport players.) Coo. (Let's see it in action.)

Nina: Ooh! I bet that would be more fun if you had to avoid enemies while you were grabbing the Coins!

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Perhaps. It all depends on how you want to make the player feel.) Coo coo. (here I added a Grinder and created an area full of Coins.) Coo, coo. (Give it a go, Nina.)

Nina: On it.

Yamamura: Coo, coo, coo. (Combining Tracks with hazards such as Grinders can force the player to react in interesting ways.)

Nina: Seriously. Even if you dodge the Grinders, it doubles back after it reaches the end of the Track.

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo, coo coo. (On that note, if you erase the end of a Track, the Grinder will fall off when it reaches the end.) Coo. (I'll show you what I mean.) Coo, coo. (You're up, Nina.)

Nina: WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?! Phew... I somehow managed to dodge both of the Grinders, but they almost sliced me to bits!

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (And there you have it. There are many ways to use Tracks to liven up your courses.)

Nina: The more creative you are with Tracks, the more you'll be able to terrorize players!


Yamamura: Coo coo. (As you place parts in your course, there are many things you'll want to keep in mind.) Coo, coo, coo. (But before we get into that, we're going to have Nina play this course.)

Nina: Uh... OK. WHY DO YOU HATE ME?!

Yamamura: Coo. Coo coo coo. (For demonstration purposes. As you can see, this area is just packed full of enemies with no rhyme or reason.) Coo coo coo. (It's obvious that the Maker of this course didn't have a clear vision. They mistook difficulty for challenge.)

Nina: I know what you mean. Sometimes when I'm making a level, I just want to stuff in every idea that pops into my head!

Yamamura: Coo. Coo, coo. (Putting too many ideas in your course is an easy mistake to make. Chaos can be fun, but only if there's purpose behind it.)

Nina: Yeah, whichever bird made this level messed up bad.

Yamamura: ...Coo. Coo cucoo. (...Yes, the course certainly seems to lack a theme.) Coo, coo coo. (If you want to challenge the player, try to pinpoint a specific skill you want them to demonstrate, and use only parts that fit the theme.)

Nina: That's an interesting way of thinking about it.

Yamamura: Coo. (Let's look at another example.) Coo coo. (I used a Goomba theme for this course.) Coo, coo coo, coo. (You can make an entire course based on a single enemy if you want.)

Nina: Try to limit yourself to a few parts and find creative ways to use them!

On Difficulty[edit]

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo: coo? (Since the dawn of time, philosophers, game designers, and seat-cushion engineers alike has asked the question: How hard is too hard?) Coo coo. (Everyone has their own opinion, but this area here feels fairly difficult to me.)

Nina: That IS a lot of enemies.

Yamamura: Coo. Coo. (If we wanted to make this area easier, we could reduce the number of enemies.) Coo coo. (In 1, I reduced the number of Goombas.) Coo coo. (In 2, I changed the Spinies into Goombas, which can be squashed from above.) Coo coo. (Then, in 3, I increased the space between the Goombas.) Coo, coo coo coo. (Changing the number and layout of enemies made this area easier.)

Nina: But don't make it too easy! I like a good challenge.

Yamamura: Coo. (I'll now introduce another way to change the difficulty of a course.) Coo, coo. (Nina, if you would.)

Nina: OH COME ON! This controller is busted! I totally jumped off of that Brick Block!

Yamamura: Coo. Coo...coo. (Yes, I'm sure it's the controller's fault. Let's just make this area easier...for the controller) Coo, coo. (You're up, Nina.) Coo coo. (As you can see, Nina was able to make the jump that time.)

Nina: Nailed it. First try.

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo, coo. (Adjusting the size or width of platforms can also change the difficulty. Keep that in mind.)

Asking for Feedback[edit]

Yamamura: Coo, coo? (Nina, would you mind playing through this course I'm working on?)

Nina: Anything for you, Yamamara!

Yamamura: ... (...So close. It's Yamamura.) Coo coo? (So what did you think of the course?)

Nina: Let's see... The part where I had to jump across all those tiny platforms was pretty tough.

Yamamura: Coo? (You mean this part?)

Nina: Yeah. If I wasn't a world-class Mario player, I probably wouldn't have made it!

Yamamura: Cooo... (Right... World-class...) Coo coo coo. (I put these platforms close together so players could use small jumps to hop across them.)

Nina: Oh, one more thing. There was a part in the second half where you break the Brick Blocks to advance.

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (Hold on-I'll move into that spot.)

Nina: If I didn't get the Super Mushroom and jumped up the Semisolid Platform on the right while I was still Small Mario, I would have gotten stuck forever.

Yamamura: Coo! Coo coo. (Good catch! I need to fix that.) Coo coo coo. (This is precisely why it's good to have other people play your course and give you feedback.) Coo coo, coo. (Feedback from other players always make your course better.)

Nina: Yeah, other players will never fail to notice things you didn't see yourself. Everyone has blind spots.

Yamamura: Coo coo, coo, coo. (When you think you're done with a course, ask your family or friends to play it and tell you what they think.)

Nina: And be sure to thank them for it! Isn't that right, Tebasaki?

Yamamura: ... (Teba...? Oh, come on!)


Coin Brainstorm[edit]

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (In this lesson, we'll discuss how to help Mario get to those Coins in the upper-right corner of the screen.)

Nina: He can't jump that high, so he'll need a platform or something to help him up.

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (All right then. Let's make a platform out of a Block.) Coo, coo. (Nina, if you please.)

Nina: Come to mama, my shines!

Yamamura: Coo. Coo? (That was too easy. How about a Lift?)

Nina: Hate to break it to you, but the Lift was just as easy.

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (OK, let's try this.)

Nina: Now we're talkin'!

Yamamura: Coo coo... (Or better yet...)

Nina: I had to wall jump to get up there that time!

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (Yes, this method works well if you're making a course for people who are good at controlling Mario.)

Nina: My turn!

Yamamura: Coo! (Impressive!)

Nina: And that's just a few of the ways you can help Mario get up there. Try to think up your own!

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (Brainstorming different ways to get Coins is a good way to come up with new course ideas.)

Checkpoint Flags and You[edit]

Yamamura: Coo. (Checkpoint Flags and you: a practical guide.) Coo, coo coo. (If Mario touches a Checkpoint Flag, he can retry from the Checkpoint Flag if he fails the course later on.) Coo coo. (There's a limit of one Checkpoint Flag per course area.)

Nina: It's the worst when you're playing through a super-long level and the Maker didn't place any Checkpoint Flags.

Yamamura: Coo coo, coooo. (Let's talk a bit about the best way to place them.) Coo coo. (Let's say Mario gets defeated after taking out these two Hammer Bros.) Coo. (If that happens, he'll have to try again from the beginning of the course.)

Nina: Aww, man. Then I'd have to go back and fight those Hammer Bros. again.

Yamamura: Coo? Coo coo. (Right? That's why it's a good idea to drop a Checkpoint Flag after a tricky section like this.) Coo coo, coo. (Let me tell you a couple of other tricks for effective Checkpoint Flag placement.) Coo, coo. Coo? (The placement of this Checkpoint Flag could be a bit better. Can you tell me why, Nina?)

Nina: Because restarting from the Checkpoint Flag would put you in the path of an approaching Goomba?

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (That's right. Left like this, the player doesn't have much time to react to the Goomba.) Coo, coo. (Let's chance the terrain a bit to prevent that from happening.)

Nina: Now the Goomba can't reach him, so Mario starts in a safer spot

Yamamura: Coo. Coo coo. (Another good spot to place the Checkpoint Flag is right BEFORE a difficult challenge.) Coo, coo. (Give it your best shot, Nina.)

Nina: Oh yeah! Nina time! It's not Nina time.

Yamamura: Coo. Coo coo. (No, it's not. But lucky for you, I put a Checkpoint Flag right before the Fast Lava Lift so you can try again.) Coo coo, coo. (Placing a Checkpoint Flag right before a tough section that's likely to take many tries to complete is a good idea.)

Nina: Like boss fights!

Yamamura: Coo, coo, coo. (Precisely. You may also want to place a power-up near the Checkpoint Flag in situations like that.)

Nina: Yeah, starting off as Small Mario can be rough sometimes.

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (Learning proper Checkpoint Flag placement will make your courses easier to enjoy.)

Water Level[edit]

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo. (You may not know that choosing the Forest Course Theme allows you to change the water level.)

Nina: I knew that, but I haven't really figured out a good way to use it.

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (Well then. Let's dive right in.)

Nina: Cool! So you can have both platforming gameplay and swimming gameplay in the same level!

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (Yes, water allows you to have both kinds of gameplay, but don't overthink it. Let's start with something easy.) Coo, coo. (Give this part a try, Nina.)

Nina: Here we gooo!

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (I tried to create an area that feels like swimming through a lake in a forest.)

Nina: I really like the atmosphere! And I see you pumped up the difficulty by adding some enemies.

Yamamura: Coo... (Correct. Let's continue...) Coo, coo. Coo. (The water-level feature allows you to raise and lower the surface of the water like a wave.) Coo coo, coo. (The Spike Traps at the bottom mean that you can't move forward until the water level rises.)

Nina: And once the water comes up, you can grab those delicious Coins that you can't reach from the ground.

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (Some enemies change their behavior when submerged in water, so keep that in mind.) Coo, coo. Coo. (And this feature isn't limited to Forests. You can also change the lava level on Castle courses.)

Nina: When you change the Course Theme to Castle, the water automatically turns into boiling hot lava!

Yamamura: Coo, coo? (That's right, Nina. Why don't you demonstrate?)

Nina: My palms are all sweaty! I think I may have short-circuited my controller...

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Yes, forcing the player to stay safe while the lava rises is a great way to make them sweat.)

Nina: There are also enemies that can pop out of the lava to attack Mario. Use a few of those to turn up the heat!

Making Vertical Courses[edit]

Yamamura: Coo. (In this lesson, we'll cover vertical courses.)

Nina: I don't know squat about vertical levels, so this one's all you, Yama-senpai.

Yamamura: ...Coo. (...Right.) Coo, coo. (Nina, if you would.)

Nina: Sure thing!

Yamamura: Coo coooo. (As you can see, the player is asked to travel upward in this course.)

Nina: Yeah, it feels like I'm climbing a tall tower!

Yamamura: Coo coooo coo. (Vertical courses are a nice change of pace for players who are used to running left to right.)

Nina: So what should I watch out for when creating vertical levels?

Yamamura: Coo coo. Coo. (I'm glad you asked. Please continue playing.)

Nina: It's raining Goombas!

Yamamura: Coo coo, coo coo. (When Mario jumps toward the top of the screen, the screen will scroll upward.) Coo, coo coo coo. (This means that he may instantly run into enemies that drop from the top of the screen.)

Nina: That's not fair! You can't just drop enemies on Mario's head!

Yamamura: Coo. Coo coo. (Agreed. Now let's fix this mess.) Coo coo coo. (I changed the height of both the ground and the platform with the Goombas on it.)

Nina: Now you can see the Goombas come down in front of you and dodge them

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo. (By the way, you can't increase the width of vertical courses.)

Nina: And you can only create vertical levels in sub-areas. Give it a shot!

Know Your Gizmos[edit]

Nina: Mr. Y, there are so many parts in the Gizmos category. It's kind of overwhelming.

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (You're not wrong. It's important to know what each Gizmo can do in order to use it effectively.) Coo, coo. (First, we'll show you some Gizmos that Mario can step on and hit.) Coo, coo. (Please do the honors, Nina.)

Nina: Let's do this...

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (The idea here was to have the player use a P Switch and an ON/OFF Switch to open the path forward.) Coo, coo. (Now let's talk about Gizmos that enable different kinds of movement.) Coo, coo. (Using a Warp Door will let you go to a different location in the same area of the course.)

Nina: For example, you could make a Warp Door lead to a room full of Coins or power-up items.

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo, coo. (Also, if you change a Pipe from the Terrain category into a Warp Pipe, it can take Mario to the course's sub-area.)

Nina: And you can change the Course Theme in the sub-area to give players a change of scenery!

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (Combining various Gizmos can add all kinds of gameplay ideas to your course. Give them a try.)

Autoscroll Tips[edit]

Nina: Tell the good people about autoscroll, Mr. Y

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Normally, the screen will scroll to match Mario's movement through the course.) Coo, coo. (But if you turn on autoscroll, the screen scrolls automatically regardless of Mario's movement.)

Nina: And the person making the level can decide the direction and speed of that automatic scrolling.

Yamamura: Cooo, coo. (What that means for the player is that they can't let Mario stand in the same spot for too long.) Coo coo. (Autoscroll courses tend to make the player sweat a little bit.) Coo coo. (There are a few things you should keep in mind when crafting an autoscroll course.) Coo, coo. (Give this a try, Nina.)

Nina: Here goes nothin'! GAH! I got sucker punched by that Goomba on the right side of the screen!

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (Yes, the Goomba appeared on the screen and ran into Mario almost immediately.) Coo coo, cooo. (The screen won't scroll based on Mario's movement, making some enemies harder to avoid.)

Nina: Can you make it so that doesn't happen?

Yamamura: Coo. Coo coo. (There's no perfect way to prevent it. Sometimes you just have to have hope that the player has a strong self-preservation instinct.) Coo coo. (That said, there are ways you can warn the player that there's something dangerous ahead.) Coo coo coo. (First, you can adjust the terrain.) Cooo, coo. (I've placed an enemy in a location Mario can't reach, meaning it won't run into him right away.) Coo, coo. (This makes the enemy easier to spot before it gets too close to Mario.) Coo coo. (Here's another trick.) Cooo coo, coo? (If you see Coins about to slip off the screen in an autoscroller, you want to run and grab them, right?) Cooo, coo. (Try to have enemies come on the screen while the player's off grabbing the Coins.)

Nina: Huh? Were there enemies or not? I was blinded and transfixed by the Coooooooins...

Yamamura: ...Coo coo. (...Such simple creatures.)

Mario's Limitations[edit]

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (Coins and ? Blocks may be used often in courses, but they're sacred and deserve your respect.)

Nina: Whaaa-- What do you mean?

Yamamura: Coo coo. (As a general rule, you shouldn't put them in places that Mario can't reach.) Coo coo. (Let me explain.) Coo, coo, coo. (If you were to go after the four Coins, you'd fall into the hole.) Coo, coo. (But as we've discovered, most humans will go after them anyway.) Coo, coo. (This time, the Coins are placed so high that no matter how you jump, you won't be able to grab them.) Coo coo, coo. (There's a ? Block here, but it's surrounded by ground so you can't hit it.) Coo, coo. (However, the player may be convinced there's a way to hit it and spend their entire day trying.) Coo, coo. (In this case, the ? Block is unreachable no matter how high you jump.)

Nina: OK! I've seen enough! What kind of person puts Coins and ? Blocks in places Mario can't get to?!

Yamamura: Coo--coo. (A person with no moral compass--that's who.) Coo, coo coo. (Though it the player can collect the Coins or hit the ? Blocks through other means, it's OK if Mario can't reach them.)

Nina: I solemnly swear to never abuse Coins and ? Blocks ever again. I'll always put them where Mario can get them!

The Key to Success[edit]

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (There are a few things you should be aware of when it comes to placing Keys.) Coo, coo. (Let's get right into it.) Coo coo, coo coo. (The Goomba was holding the Key, so Nina needed to defeat the Goomba to get it.) Coo cooo, coo coo. (But before Nina could stomp on the Goomba, it got stuck under a Grinder, making it unstompable.) Coo coo. (Here's another example.)

Nina: NOOOO! I jumped up on the Semisolid Platform before getting the Key, which doomed me for all eternityyyyy!

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo. (A bit dramatic, but yes. The Key is so close, yet so far.) Coo coo. (Try to avoid this type of thing if you value your reputation as a Maker.) Coo coo. (There's another thing you should be aware of when using a Key and a Key Door together.)

Nina: You should always make sure there are enough Keys to open all the Key Doors!

Yamamura: Coo. (That's right.) Coo, coo coo coo. (I've placed one Key and two Key Doors--one that leads to Coins and another that leads to the goal.) Coo, coo. (If you would, Nina.)

Nina: K.

Yamamura: Coo coo, coo. (You used the only Key to get to the area with the Coins, so you can no longer advance through the course.)

Nina: I didn't know that I needed to save the Key for the other Key Door, but at least I'm rich! CHA-CHING!

Yamamura: Coo. (The moral of the story is to always be aware of how many Keys and Key Doors you've placed in your course.)

Forgiving Player Mistakes[edit]

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (Humans are imperfect beings. They're going to make mistakes when playing through your course.) Coo, coo. (When they make mistakes, it's your duty as a Maker to give them a second chance.) Coo coo, coo. (Here I've created a way forward by placing a P Switch that allows the player to change Coins into Blocks.) Coo coo. (Try playing this, Nina.)

Nina: Yeah, Nina's got it! I...uh... I threw the P Switch into a bottomless pit.

Yamamura: Coo. Coo... (Yes. Yes, you did...) Coo, coo coo. (But we can fix this. We can give you a second chance.)

Nina: You made it so the Pipe kept spitting out P Switches. I can throw them in the pit foreverrrrrrrrrr!

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (On second thought, maybe I'll just get rid of the pit altogether.) Coo coo. (But let's move on.) Coo coo. (Nina, if you'd be so kind.)

Nina: Here I goooooo! I was taking my sweet time with the ? Blocks, and the Flimsy Lift left without me.

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Like before, I'll make some changes so you're not left stranded.) Coo coo coo. (I added another Flimsy Lift in case you miss the first one.)

Nina: Now I can savor every last ? Block!

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (You can also solve this problem by not giving the player a platform to get stranded on when they ride the lift.)

Nina: Those are just a couple of ways that players can get stuck in your level. You'll always be good at playing the levels you make, because you know what to do, but you also have to think about it from the perspective of a total newb.

Yamamura: ...Coo, coo coo. (...Right. Offering players a chance to clear your course without having to pause and restart is the fair thing to do.)

Providing Direction[edit]

Yamamura: Coo, coo? (Want to give this course a try, Nina?)

Nina: Do I?! Uh... Cool level, dude.

Yamamura: Coo coo. Coo? Coo. (It's a "course," not a "level." And why did you stop playing? There's a platform ahead of you.)

Nina: WHAAAAAT. I couldn't even see it!

Yamamura: Coo coo, coo coo. (The Maker of this course knew there was another platform, but the player can't see it.)

Nina: That sneaky little--

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo coo. (There's no way for a player to know that there's a platform beyond the edge of the screen.) Coo, coo coo. (To avoid this kind of thing, you should always try to put the next step somewhere that's visible.) Coo coo, coo. (This applies to both horizontal and vertical paths, of course.) Coo, coo. (Nina, if you would be so kind.)

Nina: Fine.

Yamamura: Coo coo? (It's a dead end, right?)

Nina: I'm not even sure anymore! EVERYTHING I'VE EVER KNOW IS A LIE!

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo, coo. (If you can't see the platform, all you can do is either go back up or risk dropping down.)

Nina: And if there's no platform down there, I'll fall to my doom!

Yamamura: Coo coo. (That's why you should always give the player a hint about where they should go. It's the fair thing to do,)

The Power of Power-Ups[edit]

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Each Game Style has a variety of power-up items.)

Nina: Do you have a favorite power-up, Mr. Y?

Yamamura: Coo, coo, coo coo. (I'm partial to the Propeller Mushroom myself.) Coo coo. (With Propeller Mario, you can reach areas that can't be reached by jumps alone.) Coo, coo. (Nina, please play this.)

Nina: Let's-a go!

Yamamura: Coo coo. (See? The Coins are in a place that you can't reach no matter how much you jump.) Coo, coo coo! (But if I add a Propeller Mushroom, you can power up into Propeller Mario and get those Coins.) Coo, coo. (Give it another try, Nina.) Coo, coo coo coo. (As you can see, giving players a Propeller Mushroom enables them to reach new places.)

Nina: Grabbing all of those Coins at the same time felt AMAZING!

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (Yes, I placed them so you could grab all of them quickly if you used Propeller Mario's flying ability.)

Nina: Man, Coins are just the best. They're just so shiny and beautiful and they taste like--

Yamamura: Coo. (Let's move on quickly.) Coo coo. (Some power-up items allow Mario to attack enemies in new ways.) Coo, coo. (Here, I placed a Fire Flower and a Super Star.)


Yamamura: Coo, coo, coo. (Of course, if you give the player too many power-ups, it may go to their heads.)

Nina: Yeah, it's no fun being the most powerful being in existence. I yearn to be challenged!

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo coo. (Power-ups change the way players act. You'll need to account for them as you design your course.)

All about Timing[edit]

Nina: This lesson is about timing, right, Yamamura?

Yamamura: Coo coo, coo. (Yes. As Mario jumps over enemies and objects, he'll often need to time his jumps to stay safe.) Coo, coo (Let me show you what I mean.) Coo, coo. (Give this a try, Nina.)

Nina: Yokay. I had to wait for the Lava Bubbles to drop back down before moving forward.

Yamamura: Coo coo, coo. (I made it more difficult by placing multiple Lava Bubbles that jump to different heights.) Coo coo. (Now I'll show you an example of timing with a Lift.) Coo, coo. (Please play through this part, Nina.)

Nina: You really need to time your jumps when jumping between the Lifts!

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (And I placed both Spike Traps and a Grinder to get in your way.)

Nina: It makes you pay attention to both the Lifts AND the Grinder.

Yamamura: Coo, coo, coo. (Timing is everything when it comes to jumping to or avoiding moving objects.) Coo, coo. (Finally, here's an example of some well-timed jumps off of Goombas.) Coo, coo. (You know what to do, Nina.) Coo, coo coo coo. (Here, I required the player to stomp on the Goombas coming out of the Pipe to get up to the platform.)

Nina: Trying to get the timing right really makes you concentrate!

Yamamura: Coo coo. Coo. (Giving the player timing-related challenges like this can create tension. Use it to your advantage.)

Creating Enticing Directions[edit]

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (In this lesson, we'll cover how to draw attention to areas of interest in your courses.) Coo. Coo, coo? (Do you see those Coins up there, Nina? They look shiny, don't they?)

Nina: Cooooooins... Wait, NO. Stay strong, Nina.

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Perhaps I'll just...sweeten the pot.) Coo, coo, coo. (I've added a ? Block. Let's watch and see how Nina reacts.)

Nina: Coins AND a ? Block?! I MUST HAVE THEM!

Yamamura: Coo, coo, coo. (Placing a ? Block in a spot like this turns this platform into a destination.) Coo coo. (Now let's take a look at this next area.) Coo coo? (There are two different paths of equal width. Which one do you think you'd take?)

Nina: They both look the same to me, so I'd probably just pick one randomly.

Yamamura: Coo coo? (But what if they looked like this?)

Nina: Now it seems like the narrow path might be hiding something.

Yamamura: Coo, coo... (When making two branching paths, we tend to make them both the same size...) Coo coo, coo, coo. (But with different widths, the player will choose the one that catches their eye instead of choosing randomly.) Coo, coo... (Last but not least...) Coo. (Tell me what you see here.)

Nina: Well... I want to climb up to the Cloud Blocks that go up to the right. I'm also curious about the Hidden Blocks hiding in those little holes.

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Good. I created those features to draw the player's interest.) Coo, coo... (You can place all sorts of enemies and object on your way to the goal...) Coo, coo... (But by creating little spots to make players curious, you can get them to explore a variety of paths...) Coo, coo. (That keeps your courses from becoming linear journeys from point A to point B.)

Nina: Hey, Yamamura... If I went to check out the hole down to the left, would I be able to get back?

Yamamura: Coo! Coo... (Good catch! I'll need to fix that...)

On Atmosphere[edit]

Yamamura: Coo coo. (The gameplay of your course is important, but the look of your course also impacts the player experience.)

Nina: You can say that again. Sometimes the atmosphere of a level is the most important part!

Yamamura: Coo. Coo coo. (Courses. They are called courses.) Coo coo coo. (You'll notice I just turned the Blocks into Ground.) Coo coo. (However, the size and location of the platforms that Mario can stand on haven't changed.) Coo, coo. (Please play this section, Nina.)

Nina: Oh yeah! Nina time! Now they look like sturdy, natural platforms in a valley instead of platforms floating in the air!

Yamamura: Coo cooo. (Here's another way to change the atmosphere.) Coo, coo. (Nina, try playing it again.) Coo coo. (I used the Tracks as decorations to make the platforms look like they're unstable.) Coo, coo. (Again, the size and positioning of the platforms haven't changed.)

Nina: It definitely makes them look sketchy. Like they're just being held up by some flimsy rails.

Yamamura: Coo. (Let's move on.) Coo? (Does this look like a tunnel to you?)

Nina: A...tunnel? Not really.

Yamamura: Coo...coo coo. (Well then. Let's change that.) Coo cooo coo. (The Semisolid Platform can be used decoratively to give an area more atmosphere.)

Nina: This looks waaaay better. It feels like a real place now.

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (OK, one last atmosphere example.) Coo coo. (I changed some of the Ground into Bridges.) Coo, coo. (The size and position of the platforms haven't changed.)

Nina: Now it feels like a man-made tunnel instead of a natural cave!

Yamamura: Cooo coo coo. (These are just a few ways that you can change the atmosphere of your course by replacing parts.)

Treating the Player Fairly[edit]

Nina: Treating the player fairly? What does that mean?

Yamamura: Coo. Coo coo. (Allow me to show you.) Coo, coo. (Please play my course, Nina.)


Yamamura: Coo coo? Coo coo, coo. (That wasn't very fair, was it? Cheap shots and surprise attacks are almost never fun.)

Nina: I didn't even have time dodge it! I'm done with this level.

Yamamura: Coo. Cucooo. (Hold on, now. Let me make it up to you.) Coo, coo. (Please try this, Nina.)


Yamamura: Coo! Coooo coo! (Haha! I put a Hidden Block here...knowing that you'd hit it...and fall to your doom!) COO! Coohoohoo! Coo... Coo. (BAAAAHAHA! Eeeeeehehehe! Hoooooooo, man. Ahem... But seriously. That's not cool.)

Nina: SO NOT COOL! It might have been funny to you, but it wasn't to me!

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (As you can see, cheap shots don't make players feel good. Nina failed through not fault of her own.) Coo coo coo, coo. (Providing a solid challenge is great, as long as you're fair about it. This is the most important lesson of all.) Coo coo, coo coo. (Think about the way your course makes players feel. Your reputation as a Maker depends on it.)

Nina: Remember: no one likes a troll.


Free-Form Making[edit]

Nina: Mr. Y, what do you mean by "free-form making"? If you just build the first thing that pops into your head, won't your level just turn into a big mess?

Yamamura: Coo coo, coo. (That's a real danger, but let's make something and find out.) Coo...coo cooo. (Hmm...this wall is kind of thick. Maybe I'll fix it.)

Nina: Good call.

Yamamura: Coo. (I'll just play this part myself.) Coo coo... (Hmm. Maybe this Lift makes it too easy...)

Nina: Are you trying to make your level really hard?

Yamamura: Coo... (Let's try this...)

Nina: Ooh! Is that Swinging Claw there so players can get to the platform on the right?

Yamamura: Coo... Coo coo! (Ahh... This'll be interesting!)

Nina: What do you mean, "this'll be interesting"? Aren't you trying to get Mario to the platform on the top right?

Yamamura: Coo, coo... (Hmm... Maybe not...)

Nina: WHY AREN'T YOU ANSWERING ME?! You're just adding and deleting parts!

Yamamura: Coo! (I'm free-form making!)

Nina: What?! What does that even mean?!

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (Free-form making is the act of experimenting with different gameplay ideas without worrying about the big picture.) Coo coo coo, coo. (When you start making a course, you don't always need to think about the end product. Experimentation often leads to the best ideas.)

Nina: Ohhhhh! So free-form making means trying a bunch of ideas without worrying about getting Mario to the end of the level!

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo, coo. (Yes. Just keep trying out new things, and then later you can worry about whether there are any dead ends, if the course is too difficult, and so on.) Coo coo, (When you build whatever you want and try to play through it, you'll find new ways to use Mario.) Coo, coo. (It'll also help you find new ways to use parts.)

Nina: Wait... But weren't you saying earlier that you need to have a specific vision when building your level?

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo. (In the end, yes, but if you're struggling to come up with new ideas, free-form building is helpful.) Coo coo coo. (Don't forget: the most important thing is to have fun. Stressing about following rules doesn't help anyone.)

Nina: You're the most enlightened bird I've ever met...

Know Your Enemies[edit]

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (Enemies of course provide a threat to Mario's safety, but they also have one other important purpose.)

Nina: What, like creating a food chain and balancing the ecosystem of the Mushroom Kingdom?

Yamamura: Coo. Coooo. (Close. Enemies provide a challenge, but they also exist to be defeated by Mario in a way that makes the player feel good.) Coo coo. (Let me explain.) Coo coo. (Try taking out all five of those Goombas.) Coo, coo. (When Goombas run into walls or each other, they change direction, making them trickier to defeat.)

Nina: Stomping on them one at a time feels like a chore. I'd just run right past this section.

Yamamura: Coo coo? (But what if we rearrange things like this?) Cooo, coo. (You should be able to defeat all the Goombas now without touching the ground.)

Nina: That feels gooooooood.

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Exactly. My goal here was to make the player feel accomplished.)

Nina: So depending on how they're placed, Goombas can go from annoying to empowering!

Yamamura: Coo coo. (And here's something else.)

Nina: Kicking a Koopa Shell at a row of Goombas is like... the best feeling ever!

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (We tend to think of enemies mainly as objects that get in Mario's way.) Coo, coo. (But allowing the player to defeat them in fun ways is a great way to make your courses more interesting.)

Nina: It's like you always say, Mr. Y. You gotta think about how you want the player to feel!

Clear Conditions[edit]

Yamamura: Coo. (Let's talk about making courses with Clear Conditions.)

Nina: Clear Conditions are things you have to do before you can complete the level, right?

Yamamura: Coo. Coo... (Yes, but again, they're "courses" not "levels." So hard to find good help these days...) Coo coo coo. (As you saw, we defeated the three Goombas and met the required condition, enabling us to clear the course.) Coo, coo. (Setting a Clear Condition is an easy way to add depth to a course.) Coo, coo. (But you should design your course around the Clear Condition to make it fun and rewarding.)

Nina: So it's not something you just want to flip on all willy-nilly when you're done making your level.

Yamamura: Coo. Coo. (Right. Let's look at another example.) Coo, coo? (Ready to play, Nina?)

Nina: Oh, I was born ready...

Yamamura: Coo coo. (I built the course to make the player think about how to collect Coins.)

Nina: That part where I had to bounce off the enemy to collect the Coins felt REALLY good.

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo. (You can also place more Coins than the condition requires, so players can choose which ones to go for.) Coo coo. (Now for another example.) Coo coo, coo. (There's a condition that asks the player to reach the goal without landing after leaving the ground.) Coo, coo. (I added some Vines and Swinging Claws to allow the player to move forward without touching the ground.)

Nina: That part in the second half where I had to jump off all those Goombrats was INTENSE!

Yamamura: Coo coo, coo. (Yes, though I made it a bit easier by extending the length of the Vines you grab after jumping off the enemies.) Coo, coo coo. (Clear conditions don't always need to make your course difficult. Try to come up with creative ways to use them.)

Using Walls to Control Players[edit]

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Let's discuss using walls to control what players see.) Coo, coo. (Please play through this area, Nina.)

Nina: Let's-a go! What's up with Bowser Jr. flaming me through the wall?!

Yamamura: Coo coo. (My mistake. You weren't supposed to see him until later.) Coo coo. (I'll just make it so Bowser Jr. isn't visible.) Coo, coo. (If you place Ground from top to bottom, closing off the screen, the player won't be able to see what's on the other side.)

Nina: So it's a good way to make a dead end or hide the rest of the level from the player.

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (And you're not limited to using Ground. You can do the same thing using Hard Blocks and other parts too.) Coo, coo, coo. (You can also use this technique to create enclosed rooms in your courses. Like so.) Coo, coo coo. (I've placed Ground to the left and the right of this area to create a small chamber.)

Nina: It really does feel like its own little room.

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo. (And if you're using the Ghost House Course Theme, you can do this sort of thing.) Coo coo. (This creates the feeling of small rooms in a large mansion.)

Nina: Seems like there are all sorts of ways to use this to match the Course Theme you've chosen!

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (You can also create a ceiling in horizontal courses by not placing any parts above the vertical halfway point.)

Nina: Whoa! Can you make a ceiling even if you're making a vertical level in a sub-area?

Yamamura: Coo. (Yes, actually. You just need to place a line of horizontal Ground along the length of the sub-area.)

Does the Way Forward Always Need to Be Clear?[edit]

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo. (When making a course, you should usually make sure that the player knows what they need to do next.)

Nina: Puzzles are great, but at least give the player a hint.

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (But sometimes hiding the path forward can lead to interesting experiences.) Coo cooo... (Allow me to explain...) Coo, coo coo, coo. (In this area, there isn't anywhere Mario can stand if you go to the right, so it isn't clear how to advance.)

Nina: Since I can't go to the right, I'd probably try jumping to see if I can find something.

Yamamura: Coo coo. Coo, coo. (Indeed, that's what players tend to do. Nina, please play this section.)

Nina: Here I goooo!

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo. (By placing a Coin there, I made it easy for the player to find the Hidden Block.)

Nina: Yeah, it's the worst when they expect you to find a Hidden Block without any clues.

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Let's look at one last example.) Coo, coo. (You're up, Nina.) Coo coooo coo. (Here, I made it so the player can't see the path ahead unless they transform into Propeller Mario.)

Nina: I couldn't go right, so I used Propeller Mario to rocket upward, and then I saw the platform.

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo, coo. (These techniques allow you to make a game out of finding the next platform, which can be fun.)

Enemy Appearance[edit]

Yamamura: Coo coo. (In this lesson, I'll explain the mechanics of how enemies and objects enter the play area.) Coo, coo. (Once you understand this mechanic, you can use it as a technique when creating courses.) Coo coo. (First, take a look at what happens when Mario runs to the right.)

Nina: Three Goombas appeared on the screen.

Yamamura: Coo coo. (OK, now try waiting in front of the Bridge.)

Nina: Huh? The third Goomba didn't show up.

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (Right. But let's see what happens when you go a bit further.)

Nina: There you are, you little rascal! There were definitely three Goombas the first time. Why did the last one not show up with the others just now?

Yamamura: Coo coo, coo. (The Goombas won't actually start moving until Mario gets close to them.) Coo, coo, coo coo. (In this case, the last Goomba was too far away from Mario, so it didn't start moving and walk on to the screen.) Coo, coo. (Once you understand this mechanic, you can make areas like this, for example.) Coo, coo coo. (The Goombas are far away from Mario, so they won't become active if he stays here.) Coo, coo. (But the moment you climb on top of the wall, the Goombas will start moving.)

Nina: It can be confusing at first, but the more you play, the easier it is to understand!

Players Are Unpredictable[edit]

Yamamura: Coo coo. Coo, coo coo? (So, Nina, how would you go about playing this course?)

Nina: Well...first I'd jump across those Blocks.

Yamamura: ...

Nina: What's wrong, Mr. Y?

Yamamura: Coo coooo. (Oh, just thought you might want to stomp on all of those Goombas I put there.) Coo coo. (It took a while to stack them so nicely.) COO COO COO COO. (I REALLY THINK YOU SHOULD CONSIDER STOMPING ON THEM.)

Nina: I mean...isn't it up to the player to decide how they want to play?

Yamamura: ... ...Coo! (You passed the test!)

Nina: What is even happening right now?!

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (It's natural to imagine how you think the player will play through your course, but it's all up to them.)

Nina: Yeah, I usually assume the player will play my level the same way I do.

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo coo. (But players will always find ways to surprise you.) Coo coo, coooo coo. (The player's main concern with your course will be getting to the end as quickly as possible.) Coo coo coo. (If they have a chance to avoid enemies, they'll usually take it.)

Nina: So the moral of the story is...don't make assumptions?

Yamamura: Coo. (Yes, to put it simply.)

Nina: Every time I come up with something clever, someone will find a way to break it... Why are we even here?

Yamamura: Coo. Cucoo. (Such is the human condition. And the avian condition...to a lesser extent.) Coo coo coo, coo. (Players...people...are unpredictable. But that's also what makes them beautiful.) Coo coo coo. (All you can do is test your course, watch others play through it, and enjoy the ride.)

Watching Others Play Your Course[edit]

Yamamura: Coo, coo coooo coo? (Nina, do you ever ask other humans to play your courses?)

Nina: Yup, I ask anyone within screaming distance. But after they play, they usually just tell me things like, "cool level" or "can I go now?"

Yamamura: Coo...coo. Cucoo coo. (Er...yes. When that happens, you should ask them for specifics.)

Nina: What kind of questions should I ask?

Yamamura: Coo coo, coo. (Try asking them what their least-favorite part was or if there were any big spikes in difficulty.)

Nina: Ooh, good idea. That would definitely help make my levels better!

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (You could also try asking why they made certain choices.) Coo, coo coo. Coo. (Ask them if they were confused about how to move forward. Things like that.)

Nina: I should have been doing that all along!

Yamamura: Coo coo, coooo coo. (And aside from asking questions, you should watch closely as they play through each area of your course.)

Nina: True. Everyone plays a little bit differently. They might find paths you didn't even know about!

Yamamura: Coo. Coo coooo coo. (Exactly. You can learn a lot just by watching someone play a course you made.)

Nina: Speaking of which, will you play through a level I'm working on, Yamamura?

Yamamura: Coo. (Sure thing.)

Nina: I noticed that you had some trouble bouncing on the moving Bumper. Maybe I should make that part a little bit easier.

Yamamura: Coo? Coo. Coo cucoo. (See? It can be helpful watching someone else play. Although you don't have to change something just because a player had trouble with it.)

Nina: I also noticed that you did exactly what I was hoping you would at the place with the Steep Slope.

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (Indeed. You can also try to watch the expression on the player's face to see if they're enjoying it or not.)

Nina: Yeah, I was watching your face when you were playing. You hated my level, didn't you?

Yamamura: Coo. Coo. (No. I can't smile because I'm a bird.)

Seriously, Treat the Player Fairly[edit]

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (Nina, let's start this lesson by having you play.)

Nina: Gimme the sticks. YOU FLY ON WINGS OF LIES.

Yamamura: Coo. Coo coo, coo. (The Thwomp fell from somewhere Nina couldn't see, so she didn't have any time to dodge it.) Coo coo coo. (Let's move on.) Coo, coo. (Please give it your best shot, Nina.)

Nina: Ehhhhh... I... I'M ALIVE! Even though I couldn't see the Thwomp, the terrain gave me a hint, so I was on the lookout for it.

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo coo. (Yes, there are always ways to hint to the player what might be coming at them.) Coo coo coo. (Doing so will help prevent players from getting annoyed.)

Nina: Yeah, that didn't feel annoying at all.

Yamamura: Coo. (One last example.) Coo, coo. (Nina, if you would.) Coo coooo coo. (Here, I used some Hard Blocks to give you enough time to dodge the Big Thwomp as it came down.)

Nina: It was scary, but the Big Thwomp stops every time it breaks a Hard Block, so I had enough time to avoid it.

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (Surprising the player is a good thing as long as you give them time to react to the surprise.) Coo cooooo. (Remember the course-maker's creed: tough but fair.)

Nina: When you're able to dodge a surprise attack, it makes you feel like you've got major skills!

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo, coo. (That said, surprise attacks are best reserved for courses meant for experienced Mario players.)

Getting Creative with Parts[edit]

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (In this lesson, we'll talk about how to keep things fresh while using the same part multiple times.) Coo, coo coo. (Let's start with some gameplay, Nina.)

Nina: All right.

Yamamura: Coo coo. (This course asks the player to grab a number of Swinging Claws as they move forward.) Coo, coo. (The trick to reusing the same part is to let the player get comfortable, and then change the way the part is used.)

Nina: Changing the way you placed the claws changed the difficulty of each jump. And you feel pretty slick once you make it through.

'Yamamura: Coo coo. (Right. Let's move on.) Coo, coo. (Please give this a try, Nina.) Coo, coo coo. (I made it so the Conveyor Belt moves the enemies that come out of the Pipes.)

Nina: Avoiding the enemies as they zipped along the Conveyor Belt was intense!

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo. (And I added some difficulty by having the Pipes spit out enemies other than Goombas.)

Nina: Yeah, I really had to pay attention to what I was jumping on.

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo. (Don't be afraid to use the same part over and over. Using a lot of them can help establish a theme.)

All about Pacing[edit]

Nina: Hey, Yamamura. Would you mind taking a look at this level I'm working on?

Yamamura: Coo coo. (It would be my pleasure.) Coo, coo, coo? (Um, Nina... Can I ask why this Goomba is just standing in a field all by his lonesome?)

Nina: Well, that area seemed a bit empty, so I just plopped that bad boy in there.

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (I see. It's natural to want to fill the empty spaces of your course.) Coo coo. (But your players expect that everything in your course is there for a reason.)

Nina: Sooooo... You think the Goomba needs a backstory? Well, this Goomba's name is Fred, and he just lost his job, so he came to this field to reassess his life goals and reflect on the fleeting natur--

Yamamura: Coo coo, coo? (No, I mean what are you trying to accomplish with this section? How do you want the player to feel?) Coo coo, coo. (Placing enemies without a good reason doesn't add much to the experience for the player.) Coo, coo coo. (Sometimes it's better to leave an area completely empty, without any gameplay at all.)

Nina: Really?

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Well, the course has a lot of action before and after this area here.) Coo coo coo. (So leaving this area open allows the player to take a breather and appreciate the genius of the other areas.)

Nina: "Appreciate the genius," huh?

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo. (Yes, having downtime in your course creates contrast with the high-intensity action and clever ideas.)

Nina: Huh. I didn't want empty spaces because I thought I needed stuff everywhere, but I guess I was wrong.

Yamamura: Coo coo, coo. (I'm guilty of that myself from time to time. Pacing takes practice.)

Creating Satisfying Experiences[edit]

Yamamura: Coo coo: coo. (In this lesson, we'll talk about making the most of Mario's basic actions: moving, dashing and jumping.) Coo, coo. (Play away, Nina.)

Nina: Okie dokie.

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo, coo. (Up until this point of the course, we've had Mario running and jumping across fairly flat platforms.) Coo, coo coo, coo. (But in the next section, I've added some more verticality and placed a few enemies.) Coo, coo. (Please continue, Nina.)

Nina: The second half was really jumpy!

Yamamura: Coo. Coo coo coo. (Indeed it was. In the second half, I wanted to let Mario do some big, satisfying jumps.)

Nina: That's always fun. Jumping through the last half felt really natural.

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (Yes, I used the terrain and Coins to make it clear to the player what they needed to do. This is especially important if you're expecting the player to dash at full speed.)

Nina: Interesting... It did feel good to run fast and nail it on the first try. I usually like my levels a little harder though.

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo. (To each their own. For me, satisfaction is more important than overcoming difficulty.)

Jotting Down Course Ideas on Paper[edit]

Yamamura: Coo coo... (Coming up with unique gameplay ideas is one thing...) Coo coo coo. (But it can be difficult to figure out where exactly they fit in your course.) Coo, coo coo. (If you're having trouble, try putting your ideas on paper before you start building your course.)

Nina: Are these some of the ideas you've been thinking about?

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (Yes, the two drawings in the red circles near the top are some ideas I had recently.)

Nina: Nice! I see you drew some terrain and enemies.

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (While I was drawing them, I tried to imagine what kinds of things the player might do in this area.)

Nina: So you're going to use your drawing to make the level in the game?

Yamamura: Coo coo coo. (Of COURSE. Though it can be tough to translate it from paper to game all at once.) Coo coo. (I'll need to test the course constantly and revise it little by little.) Coo coo, coo. (I recommend you divide the course into sections and work on them one at a time.) Coo. Coo coo. (The part outlined in red here is the course. This is the general shape of it.) Coo coo. (This is a diagram of the next course I'd like to make once I finish the one I'm working on now.)

Nina: Wow. You're so organized. Creating blueprints and junk.

Yamamura: Coo coo, coo. (It all starts with thinking about where to plug in a single gameplay idea and then going from there.) Coo, coo coo coo. (While you're working on your course, you'll probably think of ideas for other courses.)

Nina: That happens to me a lot. Like, I'll be working on a level... and I come to a crossroad. I want to take all of the paths, but I can only choose one!

Yamamura: Coo coooo. (But you don't have to lose those other ideas. Try to write them down as soon as you think of them.)

Nina: You can also save copies of your levels to explore different ideas.

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo. (Yes, the more ideas you write down and try out, the more inspiration you'll find in the future.)

Nina: I really gotta start keeping a pen and paper nearby when I play.

When You Just Can't Finish a Course[edit]

Nina: Hey, Yamamura, I've been making this level for a while, but I don't think it's done yet. Not sure what to do. Will you play through it and tell me what you think?

Yamamura: Coo. (Sure.) Coo, coo... (To be honest, it feels like it's a little bit all over the place...) Coo coo. (I think you've crammed too many ideas into the same course.)

Nina: Yeah, I was afraid of that...

Yamamura: Coo coo. (But it's nothing that can't be fixed.) Coo coo. (First, you should figure out which enemies and core gameplay ideas you want to focus on.) Coo coo. (Once you do that, you can cut down on the number of other enemies and competing ideas.)

Nina: Feels like all my hard work is going to waste...

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo. (I know how that feels, but it'll make this course better, and you can always put those ideas into another course.) Coo, coo coo. (One strategy is to put some limits on yourself before you even start making a course.)

Nina: Like what sort of limits?

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (Like the length of the course, which parts you'll use, how you want the player to feel... That sort of thing.) Coo, coo. (Setting boundaries might take the pressure off and allow you to focus.)

Nina: But what if I come up with an amazing idea that doesn't fit the rules I've set for myself?

Yamamura: Coo, coo, coo. (As I said, save the idea for later, and use it in a different course.)

Nina: Won't boundaries limit my creativity?

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (On the contrary--working inside of boundaries often leads to the most creative solutions.) Coo coo. (It forces you to innovate.) Coo, coo. Coo... (Too much freedom often leads to using MORE ideas instead of BETTER ideas.) Coo, coo? (And all those ideas you put in your course prevented you from finishing it. Right, Nina?)

Nina: Yeah, I guess you're right... When I first started making this level, I was just focused on making it interesting and fun to play.

Yamamura: Coo. Coo, coo. (Right. But once you run out of simple ideas, you start looking for something more complex.) Coo coo. (Complex courses are often hard to finish in a satisfying way.) Coo, coo, coo. (So try giving yourself some limits to work within. It may be just what you need to start innovating.)

How to Be a Better Maker[edit]

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (In this lesson, I'll show you some various course-creation techniques related to power-ups.)

Nina: What kind of level are you making?

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (I think the best course of action is to go back to basics.)

Nina: Good idea, Yams. You're so levelheaded.

Yamamura: ...Coo coo, coo. (...You'll see that I've placed a ? Block just a ways after the starting point.) Coo coo. (Let's drop a Super Mushroom inside it.)

Nina: As Small Mario, one hit from an enemy and the player would have to start over. So you're giving Mario a power-up to prevent that from happening.

Yamamura: Coo. (Precisely.) Coo. (Let's move to the next section.) Coo coo. (This time I've placed a Fire Flower inside the ? Block.) Coo, coo coo. (So now let's increase the number of enemies after this point.) Coo, coo coo? (Why do you think I increase the number of enemies, Nina?)

Nina: Once the player becomes Fire Mario, they'll want to roast some baddies!

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Defeating a bunch of enemies with fireballs is very satisfying.) Coo, coo, coo. (I'll place one more Fire Flower near the middle of the course.) Coo? (Why might we put another Fire Flower here?)

Nina: The player might have gotten hit by enemies by this point, so they might be Small Mario again. And completing a level full of enemies as Small Mario might be tough... So you're giving them a second chance to turn up the heat as Fire Mario, right?

Yamamura: Coo, coo. (Exactly. It's hard to relax when you're playing as Small Mario.) Coo, coo coo. (Let's add some Spinies to the second half of the course to make it a bit more difficult.) Coo coo? (Why do you think I used Spinies instead of a different enemy?)

Nina: You can defeat Spinies with fireballs, but you can't jump on them. It makes it more difficult for anyone playing as Small Mario or Super Mario.

Yamamura: Coo. Coo, coo. (Right again. Players feel good when they have the right tools for the job.) Coo. (The moral of the story is that power-ups have a big effect on the difficulty of the course.)

Nina: I gotta level with ya, Yamamura. I pretty much knew all of that.

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo. (Well, I appreciate you allowing the lesson to run its course anyway.)

Nina: Not at all! Your lessons are on another level!

Yamamura: Coo, coo coo. (Well, of course. I am a course instructor, after all.)

Mario's Moves[edit]

Super Mario Bros. 3[edit]

Controlling Raccoon Mario[edit]

Nina: Let me tell you a little somethin' about Raccoon Mario. You can whap stuff with your tail by pressing Y Button.

Yamamura: Coo, coo, coooo. (Using your tail, you can do things like defeat enemies and hit blocks.)

Nina: Raccoon Mario can also fly, which is pretty sweet. First, dash with Y Button until your arms extend. Once your arms are expanded, tap B Button repeatedly to fly!

Yamamura: Coo coo. (Keep in mind that, unlike me, Raccoon Mario can only fly for a limited time.)

Nina: When you're falling, you can descend slowly by pressing B Button repeatedly. And now you're an expert with Raccoon Mario. Feels pretty good, huh?

Super Mario World[edit]

Controlling Cape Mario[edit]

Nina: Let's spend some time with Cape Mario. Press Y Button to twirl your cape and attack!

Yamamura: Coo coo cucoo. (You can also attack blocks with your cape. Do not feel bad. They feel no pain.)

Nina: To start flying, dash with Y Button until your arms extend. Once your arms are extended press and hold B Button while still holding Y Button to take flight. While flying, release only B Button to open your cape. With your cape open, tilt Left Stick in the opposite direction you're moving to gain altitude. Tilt Left Stick in the direction you're flying to dive.

Yamamura: Coo coo, coo coo. (When you dive and hit the ground, the impact can defeat nearby enemies.)

Nina: You can dive bomb straight onto an enemy to defeat them! STYLE POINTS! While gliding, let go of Y Button to drop down to the ground. You can even hold B Button while falling to fall more slowly. It's easier on the knees. That's about it for Cape Mario! Happy flying!

New Super Mario Bros. U[edit]

Controlling Propeller Mario[edit]

Nina: So... Ya wanna know how to use Propeller Mario. Well, you can fly by pressing L Button / R Button for one thing. While flying, tilt Left Stick Down Button to dive.

Yamamura: Coo, coo, coo. (You can dive to defeat enemies and hit blocks.)

Nina: That's basically it for Propeller Mario. BYEEEEEEEEE!

Super Mario 3D World[edit]

Controlling Cat Mario[edit]

Nina: Meow meow rawr meow. (Allow me to teach you to use Cat Mario.) Bet you didn't know I spoke cat! But the animal-translation thing is SUPER annoying, so I'll switch back to English.)

Yamamura: ...Coo, coo cucoo. (...Press Y Button to scratch. You can use it to attack enemies and hit blocks.)

Nina: Press L Button / R Button while holding Left Stick Down Button to slide.

Yamamura: Coo. (You can slide to attack foes. Very useful.)

Nina: While in the air, press L Button / R Button to dive with your claws out. But the coolest part of being a cat is that you can run up walls. Just jump into a wall and tilt Left Stick in the direction of the wall.

Yamamura: Coo coo, coo. (But if you hang on to a wall for too long, you'll slip down it.)

Nina: Have fun as Cat Mario. Try not to get fleas!

Names in other languages[edit]

Language Name Meaning
Japanese ヤマムラ道場
Yamamura Dōjō
Yamamura Dojo

Chinese (simplified) 亚玛姆拉道馆
Yàmǎmǔlā Dàoguǎn
Yamamura Dojo

Chinese (traditional) 亞瑪姆拉道館
Yàmǎmǔlā Dàoguǎn
Yamamura Dojo

Spanish Aula de Yamamura
Yamamura Classroom