Earlier we talked about focusing on stickers and paper ideas. I’m a little interested in how you made the paper ideas this time. Before, it was basically paper-thin 2D graphics, but this is the first time to feature paper in almost all areas.
Yes. This is probably the furthest we have taken the concept of paper in this series.
Tanabe-san said, “Use as many paper ideas as you can!” IS has made several titles with this atmosphere in the series, so I think they may have had something of a fixed concept, but it was the first time in over a decade for me, so I think I was able to help bring out lots of fresh ideas.
How did you come up with the ideas?
For battles, we thought about how you could do damage to paper, like by folding it, getting it wet and burning it.
You focused on what would be troublesome for paper?
Yes. (laughs) Taking it further, we thought of applying adhesive tape and ripping it off, fixing it with a tack and so on.
Imagining that, it’s truly awful treatment! (laughs)
I feel like you were putting in gags rather than gameplay.
When it comes to solving puzzles in the field, it’s even more incredible. Partway through a meeting at which we were poring over the map, we started getting ridiculous, saying things like, “Let’s put Kersti31 here! What should she say?”31. Kersti: A character from Paper Mario: Sticker Star who tags along with Mario and gives him advice.
(laughs) Like a comedy routine!
Last year, in 2011, from spring to summer, we did that non-stop for about half a year in a hot meeting room with a broken air-conditioner. That was intense.
After Miyamoto-san said “This is boring,” I thought, “That’s no good,” so I got knee-deep in development and came up with ideas with the team.
Exactly what were you doing?
Well, we’d draw the basic landforms on a white board and imagine what someone actually playing it would feel at certain points – like, “If we put this here, wouldn’t that be surprising?” and “Everyone will find this suspicious, so let’s put something there for those who check it out.” – and packed in as many concrete ideas as we could.
To the IS staff, that was a revelatory way of making things. When we made things before, we would always come up with a course of events and lead the player down that single path, so this was very new.
Well, if you start with the story, that’s how it would turn out.
At first, that was how Kudo-san and I took the lead, but in the latter half, IS was getting into it, so we could leave just about everything to them. Hmm… I really want to talk about the goat, but would that be a spoiler?
I really want to talk about that, too, but that may not be good before the release!
Well, shall we get into spoilers just a little? I hereby warn our readers that the following conversation contains spoilers, so if you don’t want to know them, please skip over this part and go on to the next chapter.
Really? Can we do that? That’s got to be a first for “Iwata Asks”!
Okay, go ahead, Kudo-san.
A goat figurine appears as one of the ‘things’ that can become a ’thing sticker’. Goats are known to eat paper, which would make them an object of absolute fear to anything made from paper. But in order to get that ‘thing’ in the field, I wanted to put in something funny.
Then I thought of that one animation. I won’t say which one here, though.
Then Kudo-san jumped in, saying, “That animation would have…,” Then we got the idea of having Birdo32 come up riding… something and carrying a goat figurine.32. Birdo: A pink dinosaur character that sometimes appears in the Super Mario series. First appeared in Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic, which then became Super Mario Bros. 2.
For a moment, we abandoned consistency and everyone got into it and added ideas – all of a sudden, light appears from above and a spotlight hits the mountain and…
The rest they’ll have to see for themselves.
Another paper idea came up when we wanted something big. Igata-san made this giant mechanism. It was really hard to make that, wasn’t it?
Yeah. Content-wise, you just have to get a map piece that’s right before your eyes but you can’t reach. It wouldn’t be fun if you just ran over bridges, so I proposed a big device by which you knock over a tree in the area and go around the whole course like in a Pythagoras-Device that appears in the Pythagoras-Switch TV program33 to eventually get it.33. Pythagoras-Device that appears in the Pythagoras-Switch TV program: Pythagoras-Switch is the name of a long-running short program in Japan for small children on the educational channel NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation). In each episode, a marble travels through a Rube Goldberg machine-like mechanism consisting of objects surrounding us before finally pushing an ordinary switch.
I suppose the person in charge wondered what you were talking about all of a sudden!
Yes! (laughs) The moment I said it, I noticed the face of the person in charge of that course freeze up.
But if there aren’t some surprises, it wouldn’t be fun.
Well, the moment of surprise that comes at the start of more than half of the events in the game is for comedy purposes anyway.
Hmm, I suppose so. (laughs)
The first time that I saw that scene in which the Toads are forming stairs , at the beginning of the game, I was surprised and thought “Hmm? What’s this?”
Yes, exactly! That’s an idea I got to put in after 15 years! At first glance, a number of identical Toads are lined up and you have to find the one whose paper is a little bent . I’ve been talking about this forever, but no one would ever put it in!
This time, it’s in World 1-1. It’s so subtle that it’s hard to tell.
That kind of mood infuses the whole thing. (laughs) If we could show moving images of this stuff in places like Nintendo Direct34, people would understand its appeal. But if you see it before you experience the game, it wouldn’t make much of an impression when you played it.34. Nintendo Direct: Regular Internet broadcasts in which Nintendo of Japan’s President, Mr Iwata, or Nintendo of Europe’s President, Mr Shibata, presents new information about Nintendo’s games. You can watch previous Nintendo Direct videos from the Nintendo Direct archive.
That’s a difficult area.
There are a lot of scenes whose appeal doesn’t come across unless they’re moving.
But I feel like a lot of such places are packed in.
Yes. There’s a lot more. I want people to see a lot of scenes, but we should save them for when they are actually playing the game.
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