Nintendo Articles

Our exclusive editorials about the 3DS and its games, as well as Nintendo as a whole.

Mario won’t become a yearly franchise like Call of Duty says Nintendo

Along with various other interesting bits of information confirmed by an interview of Koichi Hayashida by the website Modojo.  Indeed, there’s a lot of interesting things said here which should interest people who want more Super Mario 3D Land, as well as about the Mario series in general, so read on!

They first ask:

Do you see this as a possible series? Could there be a Super Mario 3D Land 2?

To which Koichi replies:

Well I guess I have to turn around and ask, is that something you’d like to see?

Immediately this is getting interesting.  They’re not counting out direct sequels to Mario games!  Then again, is that really a surprise? First we had Super Mario Galaxy 2, then recently we had Pokémon Black and White version 2, I think a Super Mario 3D Land 2 seems like a fairly plausible choice of sequel for Nintendo to make.  I also love how naive the guy is when he asks ‘is that something you’d like to see?’  Because apparently, there are some people on the planet who would say they don’t want a sequel and would be disappointed if one was made.

Would you consider adding downloadable content to the game? How easy is it to create new levels?

This question seems pretty interesting too.  Good thing they asked how difficult it is to make new levels, my experience in the past indicates that making a new level in any video game is much a more difficult challenge than it looks.  But hey, Super Mario 3D Land has a fairly simple graphics style which relies almost on 3D tiles for making up the levels, so it can’t be that difficult, right?

It’s not something we had initially thought about. Thinking about it now, there would be some challenges, but if there was a really good opportunity to use the stereoscopic effect to create some interesting new elements to introduce to the game, I suppose it’s a possibility.

However, the response worries me.  I think Nintendo are putting far too much stock in ‘gimmicks’ with their recent titles.  Why not just make it so you make fun levels?  No one cares if you come up with ‘interesting’ new elements using the stereoscopic effect other than elitist ‘critics’ who think that games should be all art like.  The rest of us just want fun levels regardless of how technically fancy they are.

I guess if you look at the staff credits for the game, including the localization teams at NOA and NOE, it would come out to about 100 total?

When asked how many people worked on the game.  I won’t quote the full interview for legal reasons, but it comes out as about 100 people and two years of development.

What do you think of Mario becoming a yearly franchise like Call of Duty?

Yikes, talk about a difficult question to ask someone on the internet!  Have you seen how much hate Activision gets for releasing games every year with minor changes?

Well, the way we approach the Mario series is through evolving hardware. Every time we have a new piece of hardware, we look at it and say, what can we do with this? What sort of gameplay experiences can we create? Then we take that and try and match it to the world of Mario, the kind of expressions you would find in Mario games.

Unfortunately, the answer given worries me even more.  In fact, some will say that its Nintendo’s biggest problem with their recent titles, they seem to be designing them based on the hardware rather than just letting the games dictate the console.  Putting the cart before the horse or something.

Really, as much as his ideas are rather disliked, Sean Malstrom said it best with this quote:

A video games console is just a box people buy to play video games.

Paraphrased of course, but you know what he means there.  People don’t enjoy buying games consoles for their own sake, they’re just there as a means to play the games  It’s best if Nintendo realised this and just made their games just as good games first and foremost and the console ‘gimmicks’ thrown in where appropriate to the series and game design.

If we were going to come out with a Mario game every single year, the only way we could really do this is if we also came out with new hardware every single year, which starts to get a little difficult to imagine.

Well no, you could also just make some new Mario games that aren’t designed around the hardware, or just make more use of the existing hardware.  Like Super Mario Galaxy 2 was.  Or Super Mario Land 2 on Game Boy was.  Or heck, like Super Mario Bros 2 and the Lost Levels were back on NES.  The whole one Mario game a system stuff was a fairly recent invention if you look back at Mario history, it only held true of the SNES (assuming you don’t count Yoshi’s Island), Nintendo 64 and Gamecube.  Hell, if you were bored enough and wanted a change, you could even have a successful Nintendo system with no mainstream/new Mario games at all like the Game Boy Advance.

What about the possibility of a Super Mario Bros. level editor? Would it do more harm than good to the franchise to give users that sort of power?

I’d love to see some sort of level editor.  Because it’s not that hard to make one given how every Mario game to date has had an unofficial one built by fans.  Is it really that difficult a concept to release an official equivalent to Lunar Magic or Toad’s Tool?

so we’re certainly not opposed to the concept of introducing a level editor

So it’s not entirely hopeless.

but in my mind, it’s not really about the users having power or hurting the way the franchise is viewed, but rather, whether we can see the possibility to create a really unique and fun experience with that level editor. It’s not something we’ve explored in any detail yet with the Mario universe, but as with everything, if we sense a good idea and a good possibility, it’s certainly something we’d pursue.

Yet while hope for an official level editor exists, it seems Nintendo’s staff seem to have missed one key point.  See the bolded.

No one finds a level editor fun in itself.  What is fun is playing the levels others have made and sharing your work with other people.  That’s not something that can support a whole game (hence why fairly few people bought WarioWare DIY), but it should still be an optional feature or tool you can either get for free or buy seperately.  No one who would use a level editor would give a toss whether it was fun to use in a conventional sense.

You can look at this as comparable to an art set or a writing/office program.  No one thinks paint in itself is ‘fun’ in the same way a video game is fun, but they enjoy the activity in a different way.  No one thinks using Microsoft Word in itself is an entertaining activity but they might like writing a novel  Any level editor for the Mario series would be enjoyed in the same way.

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Should a 3D Mario Platformer with Co-op be released on 3DS?

With the rise in the number of 2D platformers with a multiplayer option (New Super Mario Bros Wii, Donkey Kong Country Returns and Kirby’s Return to Dreamland being key examples), I personally think now would be a good time to revisit this idea.

First though, here’s a quick history lesson.  You see, Nintendo have been working on trying to implement multiplayer in the 3D Mario platformers for a rather long time.  Indeed, right back in the 90s there was a plan to make a ‘Super Mario 64 2’ on the 64DD, and that was supposed to feature multiple playable characters and at least two player co-op as well.  While no real screens seemed to surface of the game (Nintendo only mentioned the features planned when confirming the game was cancelled), this was what people imagined it would work like:

This April Fool's Day joke illustrates what people imagined Mario 64 2's co-op to be

They then tried again those years later in Super Mario 64 DS (remember it was called Super Mario 64 x 4 at one point after all).  Yet alas, while we got cool screens like the one showing all four playable heroes flying around with the wing cap at once, the game itself was a strictly single player affair outside of a boring, limited multiplayer mode.

Isn't this what Mario fans once dreamed of?

But since then, Nintendo has never even tried to bring co-op into the 3D Mario games (outside the 2nd person being able to move a cursor around in the Mario Galaxy series).  However, here’s why I think a 3D Mario platformer with such a feature should be released on the 3DS at some point in the future.

1. The 3DS is the first handheld with new 3D Mario games, and it avoids camera issues

The first point being what makes such a game feasible (Super Mario 3D Land was the first ‘new’ handheld 3D Mario game after all), the second being what makes it possible.

So why is the camera such a problem usually?  Well, let me explain.  In a platformer which has co-op multiplayer, or any such game with the feature in general, you need to be able to keep all players on screen at the same time.  In a 2D game, this usually works by having the camera generally follow the player in the lead (or player 1 if such a designation exists) while sort of zooming out the camera to show everyone up to a certain point.  Then, if you’re too far away you’re either killed or warped to the group/first player.  Think of how New Super Mario Bros Wii, Super Smash Bros Brawl’s Subspace Emissary or Donkey Kong Country Returns does it.

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Flight was Planned in Super Mario 3D Land but Scrapped; Other Interesting Mechanics were to return

As you may or may not know, Nintendo have been hosting a talk about Super Mario 3D Land at the Game Developer’s Conference that’s been going on at the moment.  And while some of their remarks about the game are the standard development ‘talk’ regarding creativity and other nebulous concepts, some seem to be about features that were once planned for the game yet scrapped. Wonder why the Tanooki Suit can’t fly any more?  Read on.

Tanooki Mario returned in Super Mario 3D Land but couldn't fly.

Of course we tried letting players fly around a little bit, but we realized very quickly that it wasn’t going to work out too well. Of course we tried letting players fly around a little bit, but we realized very quickly that it wasn’t going to work out too well.

He then goes on to say that it didn’t work because the levels were built like movie sets and meant to be viewed from a fixed camera angle.  Presumably the other sides of various objects and backdrops weren’t actually textured or properly modelled in game and flight let you see how disjointed the levels are.  Think of it like how TV shows only show three sides of a scene, and how having the camera able to look towards the fourth wall would show you all the studio technology and special effects used to keep the program working.  Or how you only see background scenery from one or two angles to hide the fact they’re just cardboard cut outs.

This is what he says:

as soon as the camera gets too high and goes over the set, you see the other side of the backdrop and things can get a little strange… which requires us to spend too much time managing what the player can see from any angle.

If you need an example, here’s someone moon jumping in Mario Kart Wii:

Yes it’s not quite like Mario 3D Land, but the same design principles apply.  Only the stuff closest to the level actually exists, anything behind is just floating in water or a black void.  Like this:

Hey, my house is just a cardboard cut out!

Presumably that’s what your average Mario 3D Land level looks like from ‘behind the scenes’. If you had the player able to fly, this just becomes blatantly obvious.  And hence so instead of making sure the game world made sense when seen from every possible angle, they removed the flight ability from the Tanooki Suit.

There was always a discussion of whether or not flight was necessary from a game design perspective.

Now, they don’t expand on this point, but I think what they mean is that the game wasn’t designed to allow you to fly about at random.  So to have flight in, they’d need to:

  1. Design areas where flight is actually a useful ability for more than just breaking the level.
  2. Figure out how to use both a fixed camera AND free roam flying without the character being impossible to see/control.  That’s difficult.  Ever tried breaking Luigi’s Mansion or Wario World?  Now imagine if you could fly in them and how much hell that’d be to set up. You’d basically go cross eyed every time the camera changed angle in mid flight.
  3. Trying to stop people going outside the playing field in a realistic way.  Invisible walls look ridiculous and make no logical sense and instant kill out of bounds mechanics and border patrol enemies annoy more than they help.  This is one big advantage of 2D in some games, you can just make the screen not scroll when people go away from the intended route and people won’t question it.  In a 3D world though, everyone expects to go an infinite distance in any one direction until some physical object gets in the way, and the opportunities for flight breaking it increase significantly.
  4. Avoiding people just flying over the whole level.  See, Super Mario World.  Sure, you can stop people going out of bounds, but that doesn’t fix the fundamental issue that the world has infinite height and that flying lets people just glide straight over all the enemies and obstacles that keep the levels at any reasonable difficulty level.
  5. Beta testing and bug fixing all the above.  You do not want people half clipping through walls and getting instant killed by going out of bounds for just making a small mistake.  It’s extremely hard to properly beta test a game with free roam flight.
Mario's corpse flies freely through the air

Above is one type of problem they could have run into with flight in Super Mario 3D Land.  Then again, without a health bar, you’d probably have invisible flying dead Mario.

in Mario Galaxy Mario could fly, but that was connected to a certain objective in game play — you had to fly around and collect 100 purple coins. In Super Mario 3D Land, the main objective of the stages is to reach the end, the flag pole. We have to think about what kind of gameplay works with that objective and creates a fun experience.”

They pretty much mirror my points above here. Also, they mention how flight tends to work best in games designed around it, and usually games where a fair amount of exploration is encouraged rather than the linear gameplay of Super Mario 3D Land.

Continue Reading…

A regular Day as a 3DS user

It has been one year since the release of the 3DS and although it has been a rocky start, it has proven more than worthy of being a successful portable system. One of the main features that makes this system amazing is the streetpass feature. Everyone knows the basic features of the streetpass , but it does more than its intended to do. One thing people overlook about this feature is how close it brings 3DS users together. It does small basic functions that say a lot in the real world, and it’s the first system that you do not have to connect and meet via a virtual lobby hoping people will connect.

Every day, when you walk in a mall, school, or just anywhere populated, you meet people via streetpass. It shows you how many people share the same passion you do for games. You notice the kind of places you can find 3DSers, and you will also, like myself, start to hang around the areas that have traffic. I find myself going to certain areas of my city just to see who shows up on my plaza. Surprisingly enough I get a regular amount of Miis, both new and regular visitors. For some, you can tell who they are because most people make their Miis to look like themselves. Others have fun characters they create, from cartoons or other media. I remember my first streetpass hit was “Hank Hill”. Funny how his dream was to “run a company”. Another perk to this feature is downloading information with other 3DSers or online. This adds more entertainment to our games, such as the feature on Mario Kart 7, were streetpassers can exchange their Mii drivers along with ghost data and a personal track and karts. This game also offers spotpass for ghost tracks online. The best part about the spotpass feature in general is having your 3DS download information without having to open the system and connecting manually online. The system does this on its own. Places like a local Starbucks or Mcdonald’s does not even require you to search for and connect to their access point; It connects automatically!

I want to share with you the day I had today with my 3DS system. I headed to downtown on a regular day to see a friend. I spent some time in a coffee house to kill time until he was free, received some messages on my swapnote app. This application in itself is very nice for me because I see it as a way to keep talking to my forum buddies via electric mail cards. As I drew some funny moments that happen to me via swapnote, my friend was finally free. At the school cafeteria we played the Resident Evil DBG and then called it a day. Back at my home I check my 3DS and the green light is shining. I got 3 passes today, which is average for me. 1 new Mii, 2 returning Miis. One replied personally “…nice hair…” which is expected. This is because my Mii is a likeness of myself, but today, I had put on the Peach accessory that I have unlocked via Find Mii 2. Being a boy this obviously came to that streetpasser as a surprise, and I hope I get more amusing reactions such as this in the future. After getting some puzzle pieces and a short trip on Find Mii 2, I had received more replies via swapnote and a streetpass character for Mario Kart 7.

When I was a child, the first handheld I had was a Gameboy. This had 4 shades of black and a campbell’s soup color wall. It took 4 double A batteries to run and the cartridges were as wide as 2 GBA games. Back then, the features of the 3DS would have been crazy talk on a Gameboy, and here I am 2 decades later, with multiple games, gyro sensors, and many internet-based features, internally stored. I know for some people they don’t think about this, but just take one moment to reflect what a Nintendo handheld was before, and what it is now. It does more than just play games like before, it is also a way to make friends outside the system itself. The 3DS is going to be a year old March 25th, and so far it seems to be steadily heading into the right path to the best gaming portable yet.

My thoughts on… The Legend of Zelda Villains.

So.. The Legend of Zelda is famous for it’s diverse range of characters, particularly in Skyward Sword where the characterization of NPC’s was taken to a whole new level. But today, I want to focus on the villains this game series has given us.
First o all, new adventure series is complete without an over-arching villain, and TLOZ is no different. Ganondorf has been a huge part of the Zelda series and made his debut in the original game, and was last seen in Twilight Princess. Strangely though, he’s made a few conspicuous absences in recent games, notably Skyward Sword.

However, he has made a notable impression on other villains in the series, including Onox (from Oracle of Seasons) and Demise from Skyward Sword. These villains had the same muscular frame, and towered over Link in their respective games. This ‘model’ of a villain is widely accepted as the series’ stereotypical bad guy.
But should it be??
No, it shouldn’t. We’ve seen a diverse range of villains in all recent games and a few in less so recent ones. Who? I here you ask?? Well, just look at these…

And that’s not all of them… What about Veran? Or Malladus? Or Bellum? All not like the muscular hunks we’ve seen and know well. So, Zelda has diversified it’s range of villains hugely. Instead of a dark king on a quest for power, we’ve had a mask, a narcissistic demon, and a squid. Very untypical.
As we saw in Skyward Sword, personalities are now also captured through body language. Each character had an ample supply of facial expressions and movement was fluid. So, I think it’s safe to say that Zelda villains will just keep getting better from here on in. Just wait for the WiiU… HD Zelda and it’s villains!! I’d say even Ghirahim couldn’t resist busting a few ance moves when he hears that. Who knows, maybe even Ganondorf will demonstrate some boogey in the next game… I really sincerely hope not, however. It would ruin my image of him FOREVER…
And on that note I’ll end, goodnight!!