Nintendo on Reinventing Mario and the Ever-Present Legacy of Shigeru Miyamoto

The developers behind Super Mario 3D Land open up about what made it into the game, what didn't, and where Mario goes from here.

Mario has been at his princess-rescuing routine for a good long while, but Nintendo almost always finds a way to keep his adventures interesting. With Super Mario 3D Land having just hit store shelves, we had a chat with producer Yoshiaki Koizumi and director Koichi Hayashida to get a little insight into the agile plumber's debut outing on the 3DS.

GameSpot: How did you decide which power-up suits to create for the game? How do you balance new and classic power-ups?

Koichi Hayashida : The idea for Tanooki Mario arose when we asked ourselves how we could supplement Mario's jumping ability. When you jump in a 3D space, it can be difficult to tell exactly where you are. When you find you can't reach the next foothold after a jump, jump support comes in. In Super Mario Sunshine, there was FUDD hovering; in Super Mario Galaxy, there was spinning; and in Super Mario Galaxy 2 there was Yoshi's flutter jump.

This time, because players can actually see in 3D, we decided to take away regular Mario's jump support. But for people who decided to play without stereoscopic 3D and beginners, we wanted to make it possible to fall more slowly. After discussion between Mr. Miyamoto and the team, the decision was made to use Tanooki Mario.

We included Fire Mario because balls move in interesting ways when you bounce them off walls in 3D space. One could say that the way the fireballs move is similar to how the superballs moved in Super Mario Land. When the enemy character Boom Boom was throwing a boomerang, we thought it would be fun if the player could use a boomerang too, and that's why we created Boomerang Mario. Some elements of Boomerang Mario were inspired by Hammer Mario from Super Mario Bros. 3.

The propeller box isn't a power-up, but it's another idea that we came up with along with Tanooki Mario when we were thinking of jump support ideas. Since the propeller box lets players experience the joy of flight, we decided to include it in the game.

Basically, we try out ideas and find gameplay elements that seem fun. Then, when we're trying to figure out how to put those elements in the game, we sometimes borrow from old Mario gameplay elements if we find similarities, and if we don't find similarities, we create new ways of incorporating the gameplay elements into the game.

GS: Would you consider making another Mario game as an open-world adventure where players have more choice? Or will future games stick to the straightforward level structure?

"My recent goal has been to re-create the feel and tempo of Super Mario Bros. in a 3D Mario game. I think that we were able to boldly step into a new area with this title."

Yoshiaki Koizumi: We've been working on Mario in 3D for 15 years. In some ways, the fun of searching for stars that we discovered in Super Mario 64 evolved into The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and has continued in the Zelda series. I'm satisfied with that. My recent goal has been to re-create the feel and tempo of Super Mario Bros. in a 3D Mario game. I think that we were able to boldly step into a new area with this title. At the same time, search-based gameplay is definitely fun, and I'm sure it will find its way into future Mario games in one way or another.

GS: How is your relationship with Mr. Miyamoto? And what is Takashi Tezuka's role with the game (if he has one)?

YK: We've made games together for so many years now that they're like my family. Sometimes they take on the role of a stern father, and other times they're friends who share my joy. I've presented them with a number of new (difficult) challenges over the years, and I know I've given them some headaches, but they're good guides who always grapple with the challenges I present them with, and sometimes parry them.

KH: I've recently been working on a collection of Mr. Miyamoto's sayings and researching his thought process. I'm trying to be a Miyamoto analyst on the level of Mr. Iwata. We received a lot of advice from Mr. Tezuka for Super Mario 3D Land. Mr. Tezuka taught us that Mario needs to have happiness and fun. Super Mario 3D Land takes the 3D Mario know-how that myself and Mr. Koizumi have accumulated and adds the support of Mr. Miyamoto and Mr. Tezuka. I think this game blends together all the Mario experiences that have been created up until this point.

GS: Which parts of Super Mario 3D Land were clearly Mr. Miyamoto's ideas?

"I think this game blends together all the Mario experiences that have been created up until this point."
KH: When Mr. Miyamoto made the first Super Mario Bros. game 26 years ago, he wanted to make it so that the flag on the flagpole only rose to the point that Mario grabbed onto, and this time we were able to make that a reality. I think this makes people more motivated to grab the top of the flagpole and increases the joy they feel when they succeed in doing so.

We also made adjustments with the help of Mr. Miyamoto concerning the questions of what type of jump Mario should have and what the action of stomping should entail.

The recommended view that makes the stereoscopic view more stable, which we were able to implement at the end, was the result of Mr. Miyamoto saying, "The view in Mario Kart is more stable." We received a variety of different types of advice concerning everything from major concepts to small details, and each piece of advice helped to make the game better.

GS: What was the inspiration for bringing back the tanooki suit?

KH: We started by asking ourselves how to support Mario's jumping ability. We had a choice between Raccoon Mario and Tanooki Mario. We created models of both and tried moving them around in the game. We found that it was more difficult to recognize the difference between normal Mario and Raccoon Mario, so we went with Tanooki Mario.

There were also other cases in which an idea didn't work out when we actually tried displaying it in the game. This time Small Mario isn't wearing a hat. The reason for this is that in levels like 5-2, where the camera is directly above the player's head, we couldn't tell the difference between Small Mario and Super Mario when only his head was visible.

GS: What's the biggest issue you faced developing for the 3DS?

KH: Our struggle to overcome processing limitations lasted until the end of development. I'm the type of person who likes to play games at 60 frames per second. Even when we were developing Super Mario Sunshine, we kept the frame rate at 60fps until the middle phase of development. I was very pleased with the 60fps frame rate of Super Mario Galaxy. I had to settle with 30fps this time. Of course, we created a game that can be enjoyed even at 30fps, but I can't help but think about how fantastic it would be to play this game at 60fps.

GS: When a person picks up Super Mario 3D Land for the first time, what's the first thing you hope they notice? Is there something in particular that you hope someone sees and then goes to a friend and says, "Hey, look at this!"?

"I really want people to try playing level 1-1 with the stereoscopic 3D turned on, because I really think players will get a sense for just how fun the game is."
KH: As the director, I really want people to try playing level 1-1 with the stereoscopic 3D turned on, because I really think players will get a sense for just how fun the game is. However, as an individual, I want people to check out the room with a mysterious square in it that I created in my spare time. It appears if you keep watching the title demo. It may look like a strange shape at first, but I think you'll figure out what it is if you turn on the stereoscopic 3D.

GS: What's next? Are you planning to take some time off and relax, or have you already jumped onto another project?

YK: In Super Mario 3D Land, we were able to chart out a particular course. In a way, this involved looking back on the past. Next, I want to try to figure out what should come in the future and work to make it a reality. We still need to continue to improve 3D Mario games, and in addition to Mario, I'm also working on another game that I really want to show everyone as soon as possible. Please look forward to it.

KH: I enjoy thinking about what type of game I want to make next, so that's what I'm doing right now.

Written By

Former GameSpot Associate Editor, current Content Manager for EA SPORTS.

Want the latest news about Super Mario 3D Land?

Super Mario 3D Land

Super Mario 3D Land

Discussion

41 comments
HeCtic_GaMer
HeCtic_GaMer

I would also like to see a realistic interpretation of super mario, i picture it looking like Alice Madness, but being open world like Zelda Ocarina was, mario could use his power-ups like link uses his items, and uses Yoshi to travel. I think it would be great to see mario exposed in all genres of gaming, they have managed to make him 2D paper, then 3D now they can do this adult dark version, how Epic would the battle with Bowser be in a realistic style funny too

tooraretodie
tooraretodie

I don't know about anyone else hear but the thing that caught my eye in this article was the mention of a new project, I'm really curious on whether it is going to be a new franchise. I'd love that, Nintendo needs a new series.

Orbitz89
Orbitz89

I'd love to see a Mario game in the same vein as Mario 64, only with a huge expansive world, the mushroom kingdom version of a Zelda game for lack of a better word.

HeCtic_GaMer
HeCtic_GaMer

i would like to see super luigi game rescuing daisy, because let's be honest you don't see those two very often lol

stormryder86
stormryder86

i realy wish they remake mario rpg but that wont be for a while ill enjoy this game untill it dose come out though

Gravidtron
Gravidtron

FUDD hovering, huh? I bwame dat scwewy wabbit! Huhuhuhuhuh.

Lhomity
Lhomity

@hitechgraphs How original. Because there aren't enough games featuring zombies already. GG.

brotherscampos
brotherscampos

Is a great game they work Hard on this. Nintendo is a big company I hope they be there for us forever Bendiciones

salvucci91
salvucci91

Yeah. HURRY UP WITH SUPER SMASH BROS. / PAPER MARIO MARIO !

doriot
doriot

mario-galaxys- Your right! I can't bielive i didn't catch that! I'm sure it could have been a typeo or Koichi Hayashida actally did make a mistake.

mario-galaxys
mario-galaxys

It should be mentioned that Boom Boom never threw any boomerangs in any of his game appearances so what Koichi Hayashida said is a mistake. In 3D Land, Boom Boom's female companion Pom Pom throws boomerangs.

VirtualTofu
VirtualTofu

It took them 20 years to make the sequel to Super Mario World that I have been waiting for.

glimpus
glimpus

This is a must buy for 3DS owners. They managed to take the platforming of older Mario games, and merge it with the 3D gameplay of the newer Marios. It's basically like Mario 3 and 64 had a baby. Really fun game.

doriot
doriot

I love the zelda and mario series, imagine if they made another brand new fresh character! I would love to see that come out. Until that happens (which might not be for awhile) i'm going to play mario, zelda, kirby. And a bunch of ther games.

coop36
coop36

I think Nintendo needs to let Retro studios try their hand at a Mario or Zelda game somtime if even only on 3DS. They seemed to find success with Metroid Prime and Donkey Kong Returns.

hitechgraphs
hitechgraphs

Mario,Zelda and Pokemon.Repeat and rinse.This franchise is getting old.They need innovation,real innovation.If do ppl can't live without Mario what about recruiting new programing talents?.What about a new game of Mario turned into a zombie and chasing after his friend to turned them in zombies too?This would be better that more of the same.

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

@thepalatinepoet Thats all true, there are quite ALLOT of Series Nintendo has, but most people just want to Ignore most of them and say Nintendo is only making Mario Zelda and Pokemon.

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

Its great to hear the Team are still Improving on the Main Mario series, and they have with all the different innovations mario's going through that makes his games all different and not just Continuations, I wonder what that "Another game" is :3

doriot
doriot

I'm just taking a guess here (I could be WAY off) but I think possibaly the game that they want everyone to look forward to is luigi's mansion 2. It was a big suprise at E3, so who knows. All I know is I can't wait tell that game comes out! Until then, I hope I get Super Mario 3D Land by Christmas!

NoblesseOblige3
NoblesseOblige3

+ 200 Coins Collected = 3DS Purchase and Mario!...but then -1UP Life :,(

NoblesseOblige3
NoblesseOblige3

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

thepalatinepoet
thepalatinepoet

Slonekb05, I appreciate that you think there are 25 year's worth of Zelda and Mario games. On the other hand, I think Nintendo has been inventing whole new franchises this whole time. Steel Diver, Wii Sports, Wii Fit, Wii Party, Wii Music, Pikmin, Luigi's Mansion, Animal Crossing, Brain Age, Wario, Star Fox, Nintendogs... It's worthwhile to point out that Nintendo has lots of franchises and you're wrong if you think Nintendo is "living off" a mere two. I'd also like to point out that, curiously enough, the difference between any two Mario or Zelda games is invariably larger than the difference between two games of any other franchise. No company reinvents their franchises the way Nintendo does, and that's because Nintendo doesn't start with Mario or Zelda and tweak the formula, they start with prototypes and decide what franchise it best suits. Compared to most sequels, a Zelda game is an entirely different game that also happens to involve a hero in a green Tunic.

Lytmare
Lytmare

I know I'm going to get KILLED for saying this. But I think nintendo needs to make a brand new console... Let me explain, I've been a nintendo fan since I was 5 years old... Liked the NES, Loved the SNES, N64 was epic and gamecube was better then the original xbox and playstation 1 and 2. But the Wii, which I bought on day one, was a serious let down for me and my brothers. Everything about it was sad, the graphics are so far behind the other next gen systems, the games are not all that fun (Except Smash Brothers Brawl!), the hardware is CHEAP and wii-motes... really? I just think that so much could be salved if nintendo went back to the drawing board and made a truly great system, like I know they can. After that, worry about making games that are new and exciting. If the poor nintendo game developers had a great system to work with, maybe they could really start moving in a new direction. Anyway, for now, leave poor Mario alone, hes awesome and we all know it, stop pumping out Mario games to 'keep him great'.

slonekb05
slonekb05

they need to quit wasting there time re-inventing mario and invent a whole new franchise. quit living off zelda/mario . This is why your losing the game wars

madsnakehhh
madsnakehhh

What's next for Mario...well, personally i would love to see Super Mario 64-2 on the WiiU, that would be freaking Amazing.

neosantana
neosantana

Why would you re-invent Mario? It's Pokemon that's been getting stale.

Leir_Bag
Leir_Bag

This is the best Mario they ever made. I have the game, bought it on day one, cause Charles Martinet (Mario's voice actor) was giving autographs on Sao Paulo on november 13, and I just had to get one. Been playing like a crazy sick man ever since. I just can't stop. and this is coming from a person who didn't really enjoy New Super Mario Bros (it's cool, just never thought it was that great). I'm just wainting for Mario Kart now, while playing 3D Land =). And I'm very curious to know what the next 3DS Zelda, which nintendo said it's going to be completely original, it's gonna turn out to be. PS: I had a shock when he said on the interview that 3D Land was in 30 fps. I really did not norice that. I'm not kidding, or exagerating, it just seems to be very... you know, not 30 fps.

MichaeltheCM
MichaeltheCM

did anyone else see PETA's lawsuit filed against Nintendo for putting Mario in a "tanuki" or raccoon suit?

mario-nin-freak
mario-nin-freak

Can't wait to see that new Mario title in the works, most likely for Wii U :D

buckxn
buckxn

now i feel bad for never noticing the flag raising to where the flagpole is grabbed.

EdibleFood
EdibleFood

I honestly enjoyed Super Mario 3D Land more than any Mario game in recent memory.

BasilVZero
BasilVZero

Very good read, cant wait for future projects :D

evilweav
evilweav

i've tried it and love it. the 3d adds rather than detracts from the experience in my opinion. once there's a more solid stable of games I may have to pick up a 3ds.

mello7283
mello7283

3DS rules, the games seem to get better and better.

grim0187
grim0187

Really thinking about getting a 3DS. It seems to have some strong titles coming out, this being one of them.

redder1111
redder1111

legacy?! you mean those pieces of crap like mario and donkey kong?

calvinsora
calvinsora

Looks to be an amazing game, can't wait to try it. Mario has always been my favorite franchise :)