Nintendo Articles

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

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!!

Pokémon Black and White Getting Movie Zekrom and Reshiram

A few days ago it was revealed that Game Freak are releasing a new DLC for Pokémon Black and White. It’s a Zekrom for Pokémon Black owners, and Reshiram for Pokémon White owners. This event has already been for Japan some months ago, because of the release of the new movie. However, the ones sent to every other country has this description:

“1st Year Anniversary”, which probably refers to the fact that it’s one year since Black and White’s release.
This event is available for all countries except for Japan, and will be started on the 10th of March. The event will be available until the 8th of April.

In addition to this event, there’s also a new Dream Home in the dream world. If you bring the Reshiram or Zekrom you get, to the new Dream Home you’ll get a Reshiram or Zekrom C-Gear Skin.

Image by Serebii

Image by Serebii 

My thoughts on… Replay Value.

Well, it’s clear that everyone loves replay value. When we finish the main story of a game we revisit our favourite parts of the game, looking for secrets that we missed the first time. Or, seperate modes which encourage us to power that game up one more time. These are largely enjoyable, for the most part.

But to what extent should replay value go??
In my opinion, Nintendo has flirted with the idea of replay value in recent games. My 3 examples are Super Mario Galaxy 2 (SMG2), The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (SS) and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (HBP) . Now, how exactly did these implement replay value?? Well, SMG2 had it’s Comet Medals and Green stars. These forced you to revisit EVERY SINGLE LEVEL in order to 100% the game. Replay value gone too far? I think so. As brilliant as the game was, I had no desire to revisit the less enjoyable galaxies (Shiverburn holding particularly bad memories) and this prevented me from 100% the game. Now, in my opinion, this feature should have been toned down slightly, or been completely re-invented like Super Mario 3D Land. Not make me do the same galaxies all over again to finish the game. So, this game could have done with less emphasis on re-playing levels.
SS had, in my opinion, a similair problem, but it was unavoidable. Replay value here was provided by Boss Rush and Hero Mode. Now, the Boss Rush is enjoyable and is a perfect example of how replay value should be implemented. It provided a series of quick challenges, that were unessential for the story, but gave a great sense of achievement. This is replay value at it’s best. Sadly, Hero Mode suffers from the same problem as SMG2. You’re forced to play through the whole story, with enemies dealing twice the damage and no hearts lying around. The whole story. Including the iffy bits like the Silent Realms. This again, I would see as replay value taken to the extreme. Being forced to replay the entire game with minor changes may not appeal to everyone…
And finally, onto the HBP. I put this here purely to demonstrate a mediocre replay value system. Once you finish the game you’re placed in a mode called Endless Day, where you can roam as you wish. You collect Mini-crests and Crests to unlock characters and places in multi-player duelling (which, if you bought the movie, were all unlocked anyway). This gets boring after… ooh, half an hour. Multi-player duelling is what gives it it’s longevity, and even that isn’t a perfect.

So, in summary, SMG2 stretched the concept of replay value to it’s maximum, almost ruining the concept. SS hit it on the head in the Boss Rush, but lost it’s way a bit with Hero Mode. And HBP… Well, let’s leave that on the Pre-owned shelf, eh?
Thanks for reading.