Hey based on discussion I'm seeing on social media, it looks like there's a lot of people that are trying to enjoy Super Mario 35 more but are frustrated because they don't know how the game works or they think Nintendo made design mistakes, or that it's all luck and no strategy.
Here's some ideas for you if you are trying to give the game a shot but don't know what's going on.
Everyone picks a level to add to the 35-level lineup, and then its randomly placed in the same order for everyone. Nintendo calls this 'voting', but really it means that whatever level you pick will be played by everyone if they clear enough courses to see it.
Every time you beat a level, it's never trying to send you to the following Actual Game Order, instead you are always taken to the next level in the queue. They make sure to not place the same exact stage back to back, and they try to keep them generally in Actual Game Order if possible, so the later stages happen later in the game you won't be going right from 1-1 to 8-3. This means that unless no one picks 1-1, that will be the level you start with. In Special Mode that's not the case because it starts with a random stage or it depends on the challenge theme.
Pipes are just jumping ahead in the static lineup. Other than the initial order that is given to everyone, there's no random element in stage progression.
From left to right the pipes are and skips the because if you wanted that stage you just don't warp. This means it IS possible to miss your own pick if you are trying to unlock stages, because there's no way to go back without doing the whole queue over again.
Obviously the basics are there – select individual targets or use the right stick to choose Attackers (all people targeting YOU), Most Coins (top single opponent, but if they spend their coins you must re-select this if you want to refresh it to the current top person), Lowest Time Remaining (opponent closest to 0 time, but again if they gain time it won't move automatically, you have to re-select it to refresh to the current Lowest Time), or Random (one random Opponent).
There is a misconception that the goal is to just spam enemies like Mario Maker and whoever gets flooded will die. Instead, try to base your targets on the information you have at the time.
People playing stages with tight spaces and not much open air, like Underground or Castle stages: Vulnerable to tough enemies like Bowser, Hammer Bros, Bloopers, and Lakitus.
People playing Underwater stages: Vulnerable to enemies that can jump or throw like Hammer Bros., Bowser, Flying Fish, and Bloopers. Ground enemies are a joke.
People playing in Standard stages: Vulnerable to enemies that force you to stop, like Bowser, Hammer Bros, flying Bloopers, and jumping/flying Koopas.
Consider basic Goombas and Koopas on the ground as cannon fodder. Assume that when you send these enemies to people, you are likely just sending them game clock time.
Choosing (Attackers) is a great way to double or triple your enemy output, since it's the only way to send multiple copies of things out there. Consider swapping to Attackers just before killing Bowsers, Flying Fish, Beetles, and Lakitus.
The early game goal is to build up time to 400 seconds. Fireballs give you the least time (+1 for anyone, +5 for Bowser), so try to hold off on spamming fire until you have plenty of time and just need to not die.
The best way to gain time is Stomping Combos or Shell Combos. Remember you only gain time on the first stomp on a Koopa, even if they are winged. The other great way to build time is using a Star power up, which lets you build a combo the more enemies you can kill.
Eventually when you get to the top 10, the amount of enemies being sent to you will drop, and you won't be able to rely on massive amounts of enemies to gain time anymore. Grab redundant power-ups to add time to the clock.
Once you are above 300 seconds, you can focus more time on coin collecting so you can spam power-ups later in the game when the harder stages start popping up more often, when more Bowsers start being thrown at you. The timer cap is 400 which is when you can relax a bit and focus more on warping to the stage you want and choosing your Targets with more care.
For the real pros – going into pipes pauses your clock for a few extra seconds. Consider going to levels with many pipe options, especially a stage like 8-4 that has a wide variety of enemies and multiple ways to restart areas within the level.
When the clock turns Red there are multiple speeds of Red, and as it gets faster it's very important to save every second you can via pipes, enemy clearing, and efficient power-up pickups. Those +15 seconds for a redundant Fire Flower don't matter much at high speeds, so only jump for them if you know you can do it efficiently! If you have to make a second attempt, it's probably already not worth it, especially if you could just spam your X button to find a Star or POW instead.
Hope this helps! Remember that you can customize your attacks and pacing much better if you stick to stages you are most familiar with, so keep practicing! Winning often is very rarely based on luck more than skill and staying calm.
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