Super Mario 3D World; DLC, Music and Other Info from a Translated Interview

Just earlier yesterday, French gaming website ‘GameKult’ posted an interview with Super Mario 3D World developers Shigeru Miyamoto, Yoshiaki Koizumi and Kenta Motokura.  So here’s a nice run down of everything said, directly from the translation as provided through Google Translate…

First up, on why they decided to reintroduce some Super Mario Bros 2 elements in this game…

Shigeru Miyamoto (paraphrased): I think there are many players who wanted to play as Princess Peach, and while it was present in other Mario games like the Mario Kart series, it had to eventually return in a Mario platformer.  However, while New Super Mario Bros Wii did have the multiplayer multiplayer aspect already, we had to have the characters as having equal abilities to keep the game balanced, so Peach wasn’t included there.

One of our primary goals with Super Mario 3D World was to integrate Peach into the game as a playable character, so we started development when we had a way to do something interesting with her and the other playable characters.  And while multiple ways to finish a level and different characters was something from Super Mario Bros 2, we kept most of the focus on the rest of the series and keeping the gameplay similar to the other Mario games.

So immediately, we learn that Miyamoto wanted to include Peach as playable in a Mario platformer for a long time, and made 3D World with the four different characters and their abilities in mind.  We also learn that while Super Mario Bros 2 may have been a major influence thanks to the four playable characters, it wasn’t the main influence on 3D World (that was probably Super Mario World for the SNES).

Oh, and in case you haven’t figured this out, the above ‘quotes’ are paraphrased versions of the actual (French) ones.  This is because while Google Translate does let you figure out the format of much of the sentence and the general gist of the content, the uncorrected version of the above sounds like it’s been written in Engrish by someone with English as their third language and their general knowledge being limited to reading a dictionary.  So don’t quote anything in this article as is, it’s not 100% what a perfect translation (or even just Nintendo of America’s translation) of the interview would be.

The next question returns to Super Mario Bros 2 talk.  Guess they’re desperate to find a theme here, so…

There are many Super Mario Bros 2 references in this game, can we also expect to find the dream like atmosphere too?

Motokura’s answer is pretty blunt.  Namely, ‘no’.  More precisely, it’s:

Kenta Motokura: We didn’t have the dream world/Subcon in mind when creating this game.  The idea was simply Mario, Peach and friends save the captured fairies from Bowser.

They also interestingly ask whether the Cherry item (that lets Mario and co split into multiple copies of themselves) was inspired by the Super Mario 128 tech demo Nintendo showed back before the Gamecube’s release.  What demo?  This one:

Miyamoto and co don’t really answer this.  Instead, they say:

Shigeru Miyamoto: As you probably know, the idea of there being several identical characters on screen was not confined to the prototype, and was present in other games with things like the Cosmic Clones in Super Mario Galaxy.  However, the main challenge this time was to have several characters that can run around at the same time.

Yoshiaki Koizumi: The reason we created the Cherry item and character duplication was to allow us to make a multiplayer game that still allowed a solo character the experience of having multiple characters on screen.  The item lets the solo player enjoy features/abilities otherwise only possible in multiplayer mode.

Shigeru Miyamoto: 3D also warrants more characters anyway, since there’s more space to move about in a 3D game than a 2D one.

Or in other words, the demo wasn’t exactly a main influence, with the general reasoning behind the cherry item being to let a solo player enjoy multiplayer style gameplay with many characters on screen.

Next up, a question we’ve all wondered.  Game Kult are no exception:

Why does the game not have online multiplayer?

So what’s their answer?  Well, here it is:

Yoshiaki Koizumi: We decided at the start that the game should be local multiplayer focused.  And while we did do tests to try out online multiplayer in this game and we do have the expertise to implement such a feature, we decided to focus on a user friendly experience with players in the same room instead.

To put it bluntly, they considered online multiplayer, they have the knowledge to implement it, they just didn’t want to include it.  What?  Is online multiplayer disliked in Japan or something?

After that’s done, the next question asked was merely why the Cat Suit was added and whether it was included because Nintendo staff like cats.

The answer?

This:

Kenta Motokura:  When developing the game, we had a bunch of ideas for gameplay mechanics like climbing up walls and moving on all fours.  We needed to find an animal able to do all this stuff, so we chose the cat.  The fact so many people seem to like cats helped as well.

Personally, I have to wonder why ‘cat’ was the first thing they considered when thinking about wall climbing mechanics though.  Cats aren’t exactly magic, they can’t just run up walls like they’ve got suction cups attached to their feet.

Interestingly, they also mention the dog as another possible idea they could have considered.  Dogs climbing up walls seems even less likely than cats doing so…

The next question focuses on world themes and while they’re so similar between Mario games.  Which is a pretty damn good question to be honest, given how every bloody New Super Mario Bros game seems to have worlds themed after grass lands, deserts, the ocean, snow/ice, forests, mountains, the sky and lava.  What’s the Nintendo staff’s response to such lazyness accusations?

Kenta Motokura:  To not lose anyone early in the game, we kept a fairly orthodox sequence in the first level, but the game gets more interesting as you move nearer the end.

Yes really.  That’s pretty much it.  Here’s the original Google translate version:

Motokura: To lose anyone early in the game, we kept a fairly orthodox sequence on the first level, but you should find most unexpected things moving forward in the game

No answers here then.  Still, I guess you could call that a Japanese game design cliche too, introduce boring stuff near the start and save the interesting stuff to near the end.  Seriously, it’s all over the place over there, every Japanese Super Mario World Game Mod/hack does the exact same thing with the world themes, with bland grass lands and boring levels at the start and fancy looking and gimmicky ones at the end.

HD is the basic for the next question, and it’s quite an interesting one too.  Here it is, in paraphrased form:

Given that Mario 3D World is the first 3D Mario game in HD, has this made the game more difficult to develop?  Or have you ever experimented with a HD 3D Mario in the past, like a HD version of Super Mario Galaxy?

Did Nintendo ever consider Super Mario Galaxy HD?  Well no.  Here’s the answer:

Kenta Motokura: We never tried to make  a Super Mario Galaxy HD, but we did conduct tests with HD in 3D Mario games in the past.  The main advantages of HD are that you get more opportunities for graphics and can express more, like playing with the camera and make characters more visible when they’re small while showing more scenery at the same time.  It’s a really impressive technological advancement.

No Super Mario Galaxy HD, but Nintendo did conduct tests to see what 3D Mario would be like in HD.

Technical stuff is up next.  Did Nintendo use the same engine as in Mario Galaxy or Mario 3D Land?

Yoshiaki Koizumi: No, it’s a brand new engine.  We don’t build game engines and then make games using them, we develop the engines at the same time as the game itself is being made.

And as for whether games take as long to develop now (and whether this game took 4 years like Mario 64 and Yoshi’s Island:

Yoshiaki Koizumi: Having worked on Mario 64, I can assure you this game hasn’t been in development for four years, but I still want to comment more on your question.  The technical specifications of the new machines actually require more time for games and it’s obviously a challenge for us to deliver good games without increasing the time needed to develop them.

How about the next big step forward for the series though?

Here’s the answer as directly Translated:

Motokura: We believe that revolutionary aspect of this episode is the presence of several game in a 3D Mario. This is something that was quite complicated to set up and is considered a big step forward for the saga. This is the case for all games in three dimensions, but the placement and control of the camera, for example, have really not been easy to adjust.

Basically, the multiplayer is the next big step forward, with things like the camera control being too difficult to implement it in past 3D Mario games.

And how about that free camera eh?  They answer that too…

Motokura: We always try to see what we can do differently with the camera and in this episode, it is possible to move the camera with the right stick on the world map and within levels, even if it ‘ is much box in Super Mario Sunshine.

Or in other words, you can move it with the right control stick, even if the range is far less than in Sunshine (which made camera control a bit of a pain in the ass to be honest).

And on Nintendo’s competition…

Koizumi: We obviously play other games outside of Nintendo, but I do not remember having recently tested a really remarkable rival video game console/platform, so I’m having trouble answering your question correctly.

They don’t think any other games consoles/platforms are really remarkable?  Somehow, that actually kind of worries me.  Makes me think Nintendo are a little too confident in themselves.

Tests are brought up too, and how extensively 3D Mario games are tested.  So how has 3D World been tested?

Yoshiaki Koizumi:  In EAD Tokyo, we tend to do a lot of playtesting with both internal staff and people from outside, and this game is no exception.  We brought in people of all ages and all levels of experience in gaming, including parents, children and seniors.

Maybe they should also test with non Japanese citizens too.  I’ve always thought games companies should test their games on people outside their cultural group/boundaries to see how the rest of the world reacts.

Up next, difficulty.  How is this managed in 3D World?

Motokura: We always aim for a low level of difficulty in the first few levels, so the maximum amount of people can enjoy the game.  However, because this game has free roaming worlds, there are some levels in each with a higher level of difficulty than the norm for those that want difficult levels.

And as for DLC…

Yoshiaki Koizumi: We do not intend to create downloadable content for this game.

Koizumi expresses surprise that the interviewer played Jungle Beat…

Yoshiaki Koizumi: (Surprised) You played Donkey Kong Jungle Beat? On Gamecube or Wii?

Ah Jungle Beat.  A game only internet geeks seem to like, and Donkey Kong fans hate with every fibre of their being.  Honestly, it’s a good job it failed, because the intent behind it was sheer contempt for the Donkey Kong Country series.

On Mario graphic changes…

Yoshiaki Koizumi:  You want a Mario without a mustache, for example? (Smile)

I don’t.

Interviewer clarifies:

Not really! I was thinking something cut than pastel / pencil sketch of Yoshi’s Island or the effects of clay animated, to give you an idea.

Yoshiaki Koizumi:  Our basic idea of the visual style of Mario, is to have something easy to understand and play. This is almost a historical reason. If you realized a pastel or other permit to achieve this design, we could opt for a different style.

In other words, the current style is just easy to understand and play, so they don’t change it.

Another interesting question comes a bit later.  Namely, one asking whether Nintendo will one day let a third party make a main series Mario game.  What was the answer?  This:

Yoshiaki Koizumi: Well this is my personal opinion, but I think that with all the experience the Mario and Zelda teams have built up over the years, it’d be difficult to let a third party studio make a main series game in either franchise.  However, since we’ve found ways to collaborate with third parties on other games, I think it’d be possible to outsource a Mario game if we find a truly talented and motivated team.

Or to explain it in as quick a manner as possible, Nintendo might let a third party make a main Mario or Zelda game if said group is both highly talented and highly motivated, they just don’t want to risk having another group get it wrong.

On asymmetric multiplayer/gameplay next.  Here’s the question:

One of the great promises of the Wii U is the asymmetric gameplay, but I have not seen anything like it in the preview. Have you incorporated passages where the player holding the GamePad has different information compared to those who follow the action on TV?

So in other words, have Nintendo included any sections where the player using the Game Pad gets to see/do different things than those playing with other controls and watching the TV screen?  Good question.

The answer?

Yoshiaki Koizumi: Yes, there will be levels where the GamePad will be particularly useful and where you can find this kind of approach. There is also a special mini-game with Toad which I can’t discuss right now.

Some levels will hence use the GamePad in interesting ways.

The next question is another interesting one.  Namely, whether would Nintendo return to the more open world gameplay of Super Mario 64 and Sunshine.  The response:

Yoshiaki Koizumi: I do not know how we can consider Super Mario 64 as an open world game, but I think Super Mario Sunshine is more consistent with this definition because of the city and entire worlds to explore. Our starting point vis-à-vis Super Mario is to ensure that players always know where to go. It is for this reason that we have placed great emphasis on placement and visibility flags, particularly in Super Mario 3D World. Again, as creators, we want a large number of people can play and enjoy the game, it’s kind of our duty to ensure that the objectives are clear to everyone. However, if a very substantial number of players and players expressed the desire for a more open Mario, we would take this request seriously.

Aka we want to make 3D Mario games simple to understand for those ‘stupid’ casuals who can’t think outside a straight line, so 3D World is a more linear game with visible end level flags and other things.  They also say they’ll consider a more open game if a lot of players demand it.

Honestly?  I have to wonder whether Nintendo just don’t get a simple fact here.  Namely that a lot of gamers just don’t like 3D Mario games as much as 2D ones, and that you shouldn’t be catering to these players in a desperate attempt to make 3D Mario replicate 2D Mario.

It’d be best if the 2D Mario games and the 3D ones just stuck to very different gameplay styles and mechanics and stopped trying to cater to audiences that don’t care for them.

Following this, a question about Nintendo Tokyo’s next project.  Here it is:

Now that you have completed Super Mario 3D World, can you give a hint about the next project EAD Tokyo is working on?  Is it another Mario game or something completely different?

Again Koizumi’s answer is short and sweet:

Yoshiaki Koizumi: I can’t say whether it’s a Mario game, but I can confirm we’re working on a new project.

So yeah, they’re working on something other than 3D World to be released at some time in the foreseeable future.  Will it be a new Mario game?  Something else?  Who knows.

And that pretty much finishes up their interview and all the interesting stuff in it.  It’s got a few interesting tidbits, about both this game and Mario development in general, and so I think it was definitely worth trying to analyse for this site.  You can read the original version here:

http://www.gamekult.com/actu/super-mario-3d-world-linterview-en-trio-A112458.html

As well as a Google Translated version here:

http://translate.google.co.uk/translate?sl=fr&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gamekult.com%2Factu%2Fsuper-mario-3d-world-linterview-en-trio-A112458.html

But what do you think?  Is this interview and what’s been said in it very interesting?  What do you agree and disagree with the Nintendo staff on based on what they said about the Mario series and its development?

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