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Things that go into creating a map engine?

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First off, I am learning C++. I am using Dev-C++ and Allegro. I created a side scrolling game that is an imitation of Mario. I wish to keep working on it, but I have been told by several different people that I would need a map engine to implement collision detection easily. This is my only problem with the game so far. My question is, can anyone point me to an article or give me a list of things that I would need to make a complete and effective map engine?

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I think making a map engine is similar to creating a tile engine. One game I know of that uses something simliar to what you want to make is Soldat. The process of making one is similar to making a tile engine, just now your on a side view.

I'd look at some of the tile based engine examples and formulate your own code from something similar.

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