Miyamoto on Mario, Zelda, and Metroid

In part two of Nintendo's developers' roundtable, the company's most prominent figures discuss The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Sunshine, Metroid Prime, and much more.

At E3 last week, Nintendo held a developers' roundtable where the company's luminaries took the time to discuss several projects with the press. The roundtable kicked off with a lengthy presentation of Animal Crossing, Nintendo's quirky life simulator for the GameCube. The transcription of the presentation can be found by clicking here. Nintendo then moved on to talk about three of the company's biggest games for the next year: Super Mario Sunshine, The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid Prime. The entire transcript of this portion of the presentation is below.

Shigeru Miyamoto: We're running out of time, so next we'll take a look at Super Mario Sunshine. I'm sure you're all familiar with it as you've been following along on the show floor. But I'm sure you'll have a lot of questions for us about it.

[Plays the game for several minutes showing off many of its features]

We've had a lot of questions about the gameplay. As you can see the game system is essentially based off of Mario 64--an expanded version of that. In terms of the actual gameplay and game scenario it will be somewhat similar, but in Mario Sunshine you'll be collecting essentially what's called shine. Mario will actually be going through and you'll have to collect these different shines in the different levels of the game. It's kind of like Mario [64] in that you'll have to choose an area that you want to go to and you'll be getting different scenarios to earn these shine stars. But one of the biggest differences between Mario Sunshine and Mario 64 is that in Mario 64 when you chose a specific area there wasn't a whole lot going on. There would be just a main focus of the level and that would be it. But in Mario Sunshine I think you can see from the show floor, we've got some very large areas with a lot of stuff going on in them all at once. You can stand on one end and look far to the other side and see what's going on over there. So I think that will be a big distinction for Super Mario Sunshine.

Obviously we've added the water pump, which Mario can use to spray water or he can use it to hover around. And thereby it becomes a mode of transportation. So this has actually added a lot to the game. We've added areas that will be very hard to reach with the idea that people, because we have given them a whole lot of freedom with the controls in this game, will be able to play the game and find their own routes and try and come up with their own ways for getting some of the shine stars and items in the game. So I think we've really added a lot of freedom to the controls in this game as well.

Rather than being a kind of strategic "go from one place to another" kind of game, it's really just about the freedom of the player and being able to get out there and do what you want to do and find your own ways of having fun within the world of Super Mario Sunshine.

Now I'd like to show you something of Zelda that you didn't get to see yesterday [at the Nintendo press conference].

[Mr. Tezuka begins playing while Mr. Miyamoto narrates.]

We obviously have a number of different reasons why we went with this very cartoon look for Zelda this time around. But one of the big ones is that it really allowed us to show a lot of emotions on Link's face and really help bring out his character. As we go through this area I'd like you to pay close attention to Link and his emotions and his expressions.

[A cutscene of Link on a pirate ship is played. Link is put into a barrel and looks scared as he is about to get shot from a catapult toward an island with several searchlights.]

As you can see on this island there are a number of spotlights on the island that are highlighting different areas. Actually, there's one enemy that is operating each of these spotlights and so then it becomes part of the strategy to figure out how to get up to the spotlights, how to defeat the enemy, and which spotlight you need to knock out in order to get to each level. So there's really a lot of strategy there as well.

[Link is shot from the catapult and lands in the water just short of the shoreline]

See, if we were to make a very realistic-looking Zelda, Link would be dead right now.

[Laughter]

[Link gets a special stone just before walking up a set of stairs.]

After this part of the game the stone will be a means for different characters in the game to speak to Link through it and give him a hand throughout his adventure.

[Link hides in a barrel as searchlights scan the ground in front of him.]

Link can put the barrel over his head and walk around. If you're moving around in the light with the barrel over your head you'll get caught.

[Laughter as Mr. Tezuka gets caught by the guards.]

He's not very good at all.

[Laughter]

So now Link's in jail and he must escape from the cell.

[Mr. Tezuka navigates a network of caves that Link must crawl through until Link comes out into an area where Link must use a rope to get across a huge gap.]

You can stop the rope from swinging, you can climb up and down it, you can pump the rope to get it swinging again, and then you can jump off of it.

[Link then comes into an area with several lantern-carrying enemies.]

These are some of the basic enemies for the game, but they have some very unique features to them. We're putting a lot of effort into these enemies for the intelligence that we give them. We're actually putting almost the same amount of effort that we would put into the boss character into the smaller, more frequently seen characters and enemies. Since we are doing the toon shading or cel shading, we're putting quite a bit of effort in making this look and feel as close to a real cartoon as possible. And you can see this in the movements, in the things hanging off the spear there, and the animation.

[Tassels hanging from one of the enemy's spears realistically drag along the ground.]

You'll be able to see a lot of this on the show floor as well, but we now have two action buttons this time around: the B button and the R button. Because of that, some of the controls at one point in time that were kind of difficult to figure out such as pushing a block or climbing on top of it have now become more easy to understand and simpler. Now it's time for Metroid.

I first met the team from Retro Studios about three years ago. When I first met them and saw their talents with art and graphics and their game engine talent we became interested again in creating a Metroid game. Because they had several projects going on at the same time it took some time to get things up and running. So we've been working on this about two and a half years now, which has been quite a long time. I know that a lot of people expressed quite a bit of concern when they learned that Metroid, which has always been a jumping 2D side-scrolling game, was going into a first-person perspective. They're all worried it's going to become a first-person shooter, but really what I think the key element that Metroid games have, and will remain, is the idea of exploration.

And so the conclusion that we came to is that for exploring this very realistic-looking world in outer space the best perspective for doing that is really going to be a first-person perspective. One of the most difficult things in this project has been the morph ball. And with myself being an industrial designer, it really bothered me how a person could roll up into a ball like that. But we thought we'd give it a try and at least make it look good. And actually, that's one of the things that really surprises me about games is you can take something like that and, even in this realistic world, have it come across and look really good and flow really smoothly. Everything in this game that you see including Samus and all the rendering is being done on the GameCube.

I think really the controls, not only for Samus but for Mario and Zelda as well, they have a very similar control to them. And I think that when you play them all on the GameCube controller you're going to get kind of the same feel in all those games. For instance, when you press the L button in this game the camera is always going to zoom in behind you, and if you hold the L button down you can perform some sideways walking and some strafing. And in most of the games you can hold down the R button and move the control stick for a free look.

As you can see in the bottom left and bottom right corners of the screen there are some kinds of designs down there. The one on the left here is controlled by the directional pad on the GameCube controller. It's with the directional pad that you're able to flip through Samus' different visors. Because the level being shown on the floor is the introductory level to the game, all you have available is your scanning and your combat visor. So one of the elements of this game is to explore the areas and scan different objects to obtain information. And with the L button you can lock onto targets and that will make it easier to target enemies in the environments. The B button is your jump button. And so you can see that the game has a very realistic feel to it.

[Mr. Tezuka plays through the opening section of the game.]

I would like to announce that there are two other visors that we do have in the game that are going to be an important part of gameplay. And at the bottom right-hand corner there's an icon where you use the C stick to change weapons. So as you can see there's only two weapons here but essentially you'll have four different weapons that you'll be using as you explore through the game.

[The ice beam is demonstrated.]

Basically you have to work your way through the different levels. The level you'll play on the show floor is essentially the opening scene of the actual game. We're really happy to have a collaboration with Retro Studios, an American development team, and the fine people at Nintendo of Japan. I'm sure that you all want to ask questions, so we'll move right into that.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the Q&A portion of the roundtable.

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