I think that in Mario games, you have a high level of freedom as long as the controls feel good. You can fly around as Wing Mario, turn into a giant, and sometimes, even transform into a raccoon. However, this instalment of the series is particularly focused on the transforming abilities of Mario. Though Bee Mario seems almost like cheating to me! (laughs)
Bee Mario is also there as a means to help beginners. By making Mario fly, it becomes easier for those who are having a hard time handling jumps to clear a mission.
According to the feedback from the play testers, Bee Mario is especially popular with women.
Actually, there was a time once when Bee Mario looked nothing like the way he looks now. Nobody liked that design at all, and everyone came up to me and complained "This isn't Mario!" (laughs)
I'm glad the design has been changed.
In the end, we made it so that that you can transform into Bee Mario using a certain item, but at first, the game was designed so that Mario would be turned into Bee Mario by a curse. Mario would get cursed and be transformed into a bee against his will, and on top of that, his actions would be limited. It was designed so that the players would want to hurry and get rid of the curse.(Frustrated) However...while I was working very hard on programming Mario’s actions, the game ended up taking a different direction.
I think that was a good change in direction! (laughs) The Spring Mario is nice too, in a strange way.
That's the curse in its living form!
I was asked by Koizumi-san, the director, to make a Mario that wouldn't stop jumping.
So here too, it's function before form.
We thought about all sorts of ways he would jump until we settled on the current design.
It was really fun playing a regular course as Spring Mario. I think a part of that was because Spring Mario doesn’t move around the way you want him to.
I understand that feeling well. It’s similar to how in Kirby you can choose to clear a level using an ability that's not suited for that area.
That’s why during the early stages of development, we talked about being able to transform into any Mario that the player would like, whether it was Bee Mario or Spring Mario. However, we decided against it because it would break the game balance.
Of course, transforming into various forms has been in every Mario to date, but now it seems like the range of Mario’s transformations has expanded greatly with the addition of new forms like Boo Mario , and I think it's safe to say Super Mario Galaxy has the most transformations in the Mario series.Who's responsible for this?! (laughs)
Well, I think the first idea came from Koizumi-san, the director. One of the female staff members was asked the question "What would you want Mario to transform into?", and she put up a note saying "I want a Bee Mario". Koizumi-san saw it and asked her with a big grin on his face, "Are you sure? It's a bee!" Then he continued with "We’ve gotta make a stage for Bee Mario!", and things started to take off from there! (laughs)
Just the one idea of Bee Mario affected the overall design of the game. But even though it ended up being more work for you, you all seem to be having so much fun just talking about it.
It’s really fun when you first see things like the Spring Mario moving around. When I first saw it, I actually burst out in laughter! But then I suddenly realised, "Wait, I'm the one that has to think of the stage design!"
I think the great fun the staff had while making Super Mario Galaxy really shows in the game.
We made the game by discussing all of our ideas together. When a great idea for a new character came up, the map team then discussed with the rest of the team about how they should incorporate it to make it the most fun. So, I think we had really good teamwork. Although my first reaction was "What's this supposed to be?” when the idea of Boo Mario first came up, we continued to talk about it and things moved ahead to the point where we decided to make a haunted house like in Luigi's Mansion5. Thinking of the stage design for this was a really fun experience. 5 Luigi's Mansion is an action adventure game released at launch with the GameCube in September 2001 in Japan and May 2002 in Europe.
It really works as an advantage to have the game take place in space, as it's flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of ideas. I mean, as long as each of the planets are different, you can do whatever you want.
Right, so it's OK to have a planet in a shape of an apple. You can't have a planet that looks like an apple in Zelda!
Even when there's Yoshi's head floating around in space, it doesn't feel out of place at all.
I did get worried if it was really OK to have Yoshi's head appear as a planet, so I asked Miyamoto-san. He simply replied "OK"! (laughs)
I think Miyamoto-san must have had quite an influence on this project. Did any of the things he did frustrate you as developers?
Actually, there is one... During the early stages of development, Mario was able to collect coins surrounding him by spinning. However, Miyamoto-san didn't agree with this idea, and said "It's not right unless Mario runs into the coins to collect them", so that became the way it is in the final game. But, at that time, I felt so frustrated!
From our initial point of view, Mario games are about collecting lots of coins. In the early stages of development, we actually placed lots of coins all over the map. But then Miyamoto-san told us it was pointless to have all these coins just lying around... So we changed the coins to be recovery items, limited the amount that appear in-game, and made it so that the only thing you would be collecting in the game was Star Bits. When we did that, the game balance tightened up quite a bit. It was when I saw how he worked that I realised how great Miyamoto-san was.
By raising the value that the coins had in-game, it became worth the effort to try and grab one.
Miyamoto-san must have instinctively known the difference between whether the action of collecting a coin would become a "chore" or an "action that was worth performing". That's probably why he made those adjustments.
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