When Takemoto-san consulted you, Asuke-san, what did you do?
First, the two of us tried a number of things to see what we could do using blocks that appear by touch. What really got us excited about that was using them to block other players.
Instead of using them to assist, you had great fun using them to block each other’s play.
Right. For example, if a Koopa Troopa’s shell is scooting along, you can place a block in its path so that it deflects into another player’s way.
Or you could place a block over the head of another player that’s about to jump?
Right, right! (laughs) That kind of purposefully mean way of playing was fun. Then, we poked around with what we could do for times when two people are cooperating and backing up each other as hard as they can.
You looked for some kind of super play in which two people cooperate.
Right. You can do all kinds of things that way. We were overjoyed, like, “Oh! We’ve discovered a new route!” It looked like it would work and we began to feel like we were getting somewhere.
But did it feel like the two of you loved it while others around you didn’t understand?
Yeah, it did. (laughs)
At first, I was actually one of those people.
You were! (laughs)
As the precise map was coming together, when I first heard that you could make blocks appear by touch so you could go wherever you wanted, I was like, “Is that really a good idea?”
The map’s objects and the course designer’s intent might both end up being for nothing.
Yeah. But these two guys were really good, so just watching that incredible playing was really fun. I also thought it was interesting how each player can choose a different route.
In Super Mario games until now, when you wanted to go up, you had to reveal a hidden block – like one that shoots up a vine.
Or spring off the top of a Paratroopa.
Yeah. In Super Mario, there are numerous ways to go up to a single spot. Finding those ways is fun, but this time, using blocks has added a new approach to the list.
Drop-in play is a new option to add new routes.
Yes. Suppose there’s a Star Coin that’s difficult to reach. It’s a big relief when you can’t get it alone no matter what, but then snag it through drop-in play. Then you’ll want to try it again without your buddy’s help.
Huh? You can get Star Coins that are difficult to get by yourself?
Yes. Because once you see it, you know where it is.
Oh, I see. Until then, you hadn’t noticed a Star Coin was there, but you discover it through drop-in play.
Right. And you learn the route there.
So you can use it like reconnaissance for when you’re going to play alone.
Yes. Also, drop-in play in the story mode is important for beginners.
In the previous game New Super Mario Bros. Wii, being able to stay in the bubbles helped people to go further in the game by having others who were good at the game help them out. I heard from various people that they were able to clear the game, even though they themselves aren’t great at action games. It seems to me that with this series, you’re constantly challenging yourself so that even beginners can push through to the end.
That’s right. This time, I hope that even people who aren’t good at video games will make use of drop-in play to reach the final battle against Bowser. We also made a Challenge Mode that will really be worth playing for people who can clear the story mode alone.
How did you make the Challenge Mode?
During development, we had fun coming up with our own challenges.
You set your own rules and then played that way.
Yes. I think that is a classic way that advanced players enjoy Super Mario games.
You want to brag, like, “I cleared it in the most unbelievable way!”
Yeah! (laughs) For New Super Mario Bros. Wii, we introduced ways to play and showed fresh challenges on the Nintendo Japan homepage, and it was received really well.
Why did you do that?
There were these interesting methods of gameplay, but we couldn’t tell people out there, so we thought, “Mottainai (What a waste)!” We also wanted everyone to keep playing Super Mario for a long time to come.
It would be a waste if they just beat Bowser and called it quits.
Yeah. So this time, we created a Challenge Mode and put it in the game from the start.
Were you the one who first suggested putting it in the game?
No. When I joined the team, Takemoto-san had decided to put it in.
Takemoto-san had also recognised the potential pay-off from Challenge Mode gameplay.
Yes. I’ve been involved with the Super Mario series for a while, so when I design courses, I set some sort of challenge for myself, like being able to clear a course without ever touching the ground.
Yes, that kind of drama and willpower is always behind course creation.
Yeah. But if you put something like that in and don’t say anything about it, people often won’t notice, which I thought was a waste.
When you put a Challenge Mode into the game from the start like with this game, it introduces a new way to play.
I wanted all kinds of people to play the Challenge Mode, so we prepared a mode that advanced players could enjoy, as well as a slightly easier mode that you can progress in little by little for people who can play about halfway through the story mode.
It would be tough for players with average skills if everything required incredible playing.
Yes. So there’s a merit for those who aren’t great at action games in that it gets easier to play when you learn how to, for example, nab consecutive 1-Ups in Challenge Mode and then try it out in the story mode to increase the number of Marios you have.
It’s a mode with some incredibly difficult challenges, and where less skilled players can enjoy gradually building up their experience.
Yeah. There are three levels – gold, silver and bronze medals – in line with each person’s ability, so I really hope people will challenge themselves!
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