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 Koichi Hayashida, Shiro Mouri and Takashi Tezuka discussed how liberating it was working without deadlines:
Mario Devs on Working without a Deadline:
Koichi Hayashida: Tezuka-san gave us the task of creating a Mario game full of hidden surprises and wonders.
Shiro Mouri: When I think back to the first time I played the original Super Mario Bros. (8) game, I remember feeling that it was full of hidden surprises and wonders. Coins would come out when you hit the blocks, and your body would grow bigger with Super Mushrooms. Back then, everything was new and packed with unexpected delights. However, now that the Super Mario games have been enjoyed by players for many years, those things have somehow become ordinary. That’s why Tezuka-san’s goal was to create moments that even modern players would find unexpected and wondrous.
Koichi Hayashida: What used to be wondrous back then is no longer wondrous today, neither for players nor for us developers.
Shiro Mouri: But the reality of coming up with something that would elicit a sense of wonder from a modern audience was quite difficult. We did a lot of prototyping, but because the development team was small then, it took us time to find the core of what we wanted to achieve.
Takashi Tezuka: Previous 2D Mario games featured variations of challenges that would scale up in difficulty as players progressed. This time, though, we decided not to focus on creating such variations but rather on offering a large number of surprises that we thought would be fun. Frankly speaking, I wanted to include at least one element in each course that would surprise or delight players. So I decided to consult Hayashida-san who had been involved in the development of 3D Mario games and ask him how he included such elements in Super Mario Odyssey.
Koichi Hayashida: 3D Mario games are sometimes described by the media and players as a “toy box of ideas”, so I decided to apply some of the ideas we used to create 3D Mario games to a 2D Mario game. With these things in mind, we decided to have an idea-sharing session. Everyone from programmers to designers and sound designers joined in and wrote down gameplay ideas on sticky notes, which could be unrelated to their field of expertise, and we made prototypes on the spot. There were just so many ideas. Before this interview, I counted the number of sticky notes we had, and there were over 2,000! (Laughs)
Shiro Mouri: Sato-san proposed the idea of players warping to another world by collecting an item. This is what he came up with.
When I was playing Super Mario Bros. on the NES, I was amazed that you could warp to different places. You could go underground by entering a pipe or go up to the sky by climbing up vines that appear when you hit a block. So I wanted to utilise this idea to create a game with new wonders.
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