After playing Super Mario games for more than 25 years, the option to create our own levels and share boards with friends would be a great addition to the franchise, which is why we cheered when Nintendo officially unveiled Mario Maker. This Wii U exclusive presents gamers with a blank canvas and tasks them with building their own Mario stages from the ground up. In less than five minutes, you can place Goombas, Koopa Troopas, green pipes and coin blocks across a 2D plane, then playtest the stage until it’s perfect. Novel idea, but how does it work? Considering Nintendo prides itself on publishing video games for all ages, the answer won’t surprise anyone. 

Mario Maker is the type of game that despite being as deep as you want it to be, features user-friendly controls that’ll have people young and old creating enjoyable romps through the Mushroom Kingdom.  Part of its addictiveness lies in the game’s simplicity. Nintendo doesn’t attempt to complicate things with 3D environments ala Super Mario Galaxy. Instead, the company sticks to the 2D NES platformer that started the Mario craze, the original Super Mario Bros. 

Below is an image of the Mario Maker editor. Along the top is a row of the different items you’re free to place within this 2D world, and it’s the usual suspects. Brick blocks, gold coins, floating platforms, Hammer Bros. and Piranha Plants are readily available. To place one or more, simply tap and hold the desired object on the Wii U GamePad using the stylus and then drag it wherever you wish. Want eight stacks of 10 Goombas, or 200 Koopa Troopas in single file? Not a problem. 

In fact, you can place a green pipe and make it as long or short as you want with the help of up and down arrows. Simply tap and drag. 

Some gamers will keep things conservative. Others, meanwhile, will spend the bulk of their time designing the most challenging stages in history. We still don’t know how to attack the level below. 

One of the coolest things about Mario Maker is the option to go from Super Mario Bros. to New Super Mario Bros. U graphics with a single button press in the top left corner of the screen; it’s a seamless transition. With any luck, Nintendo will add packs for Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World in the months ahead to provide more enhanced customization. We’ll gladly pay for that downloadable content.

That’s a brief primer on how to make levels in Mario Maker. Waiting until early 2015 to play it hurts, but considering the games we have between now and this title’s release, next year will arrive soon enough.