Throughout the 25-year history of Super Mario, I'm sure some elements have been changed, while others haven't. I'd like to ask all of you what those elements are, starting with you Konno-san.
What have we changed, and what haven't we changed... Well the way I look at it, every time we wrap up a Mario game, Tezuka-san and I always talk with the team about what we should do next. What sort of new elements we should add. For example, in Super Mario World you've got Cape Mario who can fly through the air like a glider as a new element. That actually took quite a bit of time to accomplish. And then in Mario 3 -
Not to mention Statue Mario and a whole host of others we came up with. (laughs) That's how we moved forward with development, always racking our brains trying to figure out what to do with Mario next. We were always thinking about what would be fun for gamers and fun for us to make, but I can't recollect ever saying "this is something we can't change about Mario."
Instead of saying you need to "preserve" this or that, it's been more along the lines of "how about we change this, etc."
Right. We weren't thinking about preserving. It was more like "how should we change this?" That's how it always was. But then once the final product was released, Miyamoto-san would look at what we changed and say, "Not quite there yet."
What do you think, Eguchi-san? I know you've been involved directly with the Mario series, but also have the benefit of watching others work on Super Mario from an objective point of view.
Well, we went forward with development by taking new ideas that were in step with the times, trying to make it fun for as wide an audience as possible. But when it comes to something we didn't change, I'd say it would be that we didn't cave in to surrounding opinion. For example, I think some thought it would be a good idea if we took Mario in a direction aimed exclusively at a younger audience, but we didn't take that route. Looking at the drawings he does have sort of a "cute" appearance, but I feel we've always tried to maintain the heroic, admirable image that everyone's looking for. Then again, looking at Mario 3 that we made some 22 years ago, the game has sort of a cutesy aspect to it, I suppose. When I look back, I wonder if we could have done some things differently here and there. (laughs) Because I was one of those responsible for it...
I think that particular Mario was just fine for back then.
Thank you for saying that. I'd say Tezuka-san probably had some influence on the Mario 3 drawings. You know, he wanted to draw eyes on just about anything.
Oh yeah, that's right! (laughs) Ever since Mario 2, he started drawing eyes on the clouds and all sorts of things. When I saw that I told him it was cute.
But ever since Mario Sunshine, as the enemies had a tendency of looking cute, I have the impression that the general atmosphere among the developers has been to try to keep that from getting out of control.
You were director on Mario Sunshine, Koizumi-san. Do you remember running into an issue like that?
I do. There were disputes about the "cuteness" factor all the way through. When we were making Mario Sunshine, we thought since he's a plumber we should make him wild with paint splattered on his face and body. And with Mario Galaxy after that, we made it sort of space opera-style, where Mario leaped to another planet, landed profoundly, and then turned around and struck a pose. Later Miyamoto-san came to me and said it was too much. (laughs)
I'll bet you wanted to fire back with, "But you told us to make it cool!" (laughs)
No no no... (laughs) I'm sure there are lots of different opinions on what qualifies as cool, and to Miyamoto-san I imagine "cool" is a little different than what the average person would think. I mean Mario is an old guy with a moustache. (laughs)
Right, and a fat gut to boot. (laughs)
Thinking about it from that angle, I don't think he wants the character to be over the top, and too disconnected from the audience. So I thought that Mario shouldn't be too "cute" or too "cool," but that somewhere in between was just right. And when we made Mario Galaxy 2, I worked on the first part of the story together with Miyamoto-san. We wanted to make sure it didn't get too childish, so we added some black humour to the mix and talked through it a lot until we reached the perfect balance.
I see. Kimura-san, when you were working on New Mario, what sort of things did you change, and what did you preserve?
One thing that changed was the jump. Even though it's technically the same through the series, the feeling of distance when jumping sideways, and other aspects were slightly changed little by little.
And the way he slides is a little different now, right?
Yes it is.
Each series has its own world, and adjustments are made to be in tune with each particular world, right?
That's correct. As for something that hasn't been changed, I'd have to say the requirement to grab a flagpole at the end of a stage to reach the goal. In Mario 3 there's a panel to hit , and in Mario World there's something similar to a flagpole, but it's more of a moving goal gate - something you have to cut the tape on to officially reach the goal. And when making the DS version of New Mario, we were thinking up various new ideas and methods for reaching the goal, but decided to stick with the pole-grabbing action.
Play elements like how high you grab the pole or the timing in which you grab it were also included, right?
Yes. The higher you grab onto the pole, the more points you get. That's a logical way to do it with a jumping game, so we couldn't think of any better method. So when we made the Wii version, we were confident in leaving the flagpole as it is. But in this case you've got four players grabbing onto it at once, so some people suggested making the pole a bit longer. But if it's too long you won't be able to jump to the top, so we scratched that idea. (laughs)
Four players went really well together with the flagpole idea from the beginning. Everyone can grab it together on good terms, or one person can be left behind - there are so many ways to have fun just by reaching the goal.
Exactly. And another thing we didn't change was when Mario starts, he has to rapidly advance to the right in order to eventually reach the goal.
Keep moving to the right and you're bound reach the goal at some point.
No matter what Mario game you're playing "move to the right" is a fundamental element. This sort of provides players with a sense of relief, so they can start the game without thinking too much about what has to be done.
That's true for side-scrolling Mario games, but 3D Mario games are a little different, right?
That's right. The 3D Mario games are similar too in that it's all about reaching a goal, but the reason we didn't put a flagpole at the end is simply because it's hard to grab a pole like that in a 3D game. That's why we went with touching a Power Star to reach the goal instead. And that's been a tradition for 3D Mario games ever since.
So that's why it's a star-collecting game.
Yes. That's an aspect of the 3D Mario games that has never changed since Mario 64.
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