With Super Mario Bros. Wonder releasing nearer to the end of this week, Nintendo has made Super Mario Bros. Wonder the latest game to get the “Ask the Developer” interview treatment. Across the interview’s multiple instalments, we got to hear from the likes of Takashi Tezuka and other developers all involved in Mario’s latest 2D outing.
During the interview, we heard from the devs behind Super Mario Bros. Wonder, as they spoke about the ideas behind the wonders and pipes that twist and bend:
Mario Devs on Creating Wonders and Wondrous Pipes:
Shiro Mouri: Tezuka-san said, “Warping somewhere else would be no different from previous games. Can’t we make it so that the course itself transforms without players having to warp?”. I was like, “No, no, how is that even possible?”. (Laughs)
Koichi Hayashida: I also thought it was asking the impossible to make the course itself move. (Laughs) But then I remembered that we had come up with the idea of twisting and bending the pipes, so we made a prototype, and it turned out to be quite an interesting gameplay mechanic.
Shiro Mouri: This got me thinking, let’s make huge changes in a way that would have been unimaginable in previous 2D Mario games! We went through a lot of prototyping, and once we finally discovered the “core” of this game, the team became more confident and started to move forward. This is a rather drastic approach, but first, you’ve got to take everything to the extreme. If you think you’ve gone too far, you can make adjustments later.
Koji Kondo: I also contributed a lot of suggestions at the idea-sharing session. I shared the idea of an eight-heads-tall, life-sized, live-action Mario humming along with the background music as he goes along. When he jumps, he says to himself, “Boing!”. …The idea was never used, though.
Koji Kondo: I felt I had to take the lead in going to the extreme. (Laughs)
Masanobu Sato: There are some deviations from the rules of the Mario world we’ve seen in the past. For example, we all know pipes are solid, so we’re confident that shells we kick will bounce back if they hit one. We also know that we can safely jump on pipes. Keeping this feeling of trust in a side-scrolling 2D Mario game was crucial. But we didn’t want to give up on an idea that people had spent a lot of energy on, just because it wouldn’t fit in and look right. So we took great pains to create a world that could incorporate this idea. We decided to incorporate this major transformation as a mysterious phenomenon called the “Wonder effect” and use unconventional visuals.
Koichi Hayashida: From then on, we held Wonder prototype meetings, where we selected ideas from the more-than-2,000 sticky notes and other materials produced in the idea-sharing session and created prototypes that matched the world of Wonder. Various ideas were incorporated into the game as we went along.
Koji Kondo: We were also conscious of this major transformation when creating the sound. To make the sound of activating the Wonder effects more unconventional, we used a lot of up-tempo background music. We also made the environmental sounds and sound effects more dynamic to give a sense of complete change from the regular course. The course background music has also been redesigned. Instead of the analogue synthesiser-like sounds used in New Super Mario Bros., we’ve incorporated the sounds of musical instruments and digital synthesisers to introduce a musical genre that has never been heard in Mario history.
Shiro Mouri: Looking back, I remember Kondo-san also talking about this “major transformation” in the idea-sharing meeting, even before we aligned on the concept of Wonder effects.
Koji Kondo: Huh? I did?
Shiro Mouri: Yes, it was when the idea for Elephant Mario came up. We were experimenting with the water-spraying action and trying out ideas for sprinkling water, and Kondo-san said, “Wouldn’t it be better to transform the entire screen more dramatically so that we get heavy rainfall?”.
Koji Kondo: Oh yes, I did say that.
Koichi Hayashida: I felt that transforming the entire screen fit in well with Tezuka-san’s theme of “transformation”. There’s the world of Mario that Tezuka-san and Kondo-san have in mind, and if you don’t have a clear understanding of their vision, it might seem like they’re asking the impossible. However, there is a clear goal at the end.Masanobu Sato: I’m sure that from the producer’s point of view, he knew that players wouldn’t see much difference if we didn’t do something as drastic as what he’d asked. I believe he didn’t want us to do just what we were told but rather to come up with our own ideas that aligned with his vision. I was always thinking about his intent as I worked on the game.
Shiro Mouri: In hindsight, “asking the impossible” was exactly what we needed.
For the full interview, why not click here to check out Ask the Developer Vol. 11, Super Mario Bros. Wonder – Chapter 1.
Ask the Developer | Super Mario Bros. Wonder (Participating Developers)
- Takashi Tezuka | Executive Officer Senior Officer, Entertainment Planning & Development Division
- Shiro Mouri | Entertainment Planning & Development Department Production Group No. 10
- Koichi Hayashida | Entertainment Planning & Development Department Production Group No. 10
- Masanobu Sato | Entertainment Planning & Development Department Production Group No. 10
- Koji Kondo | Senior Officer, Entertainment Planning & Development Department