Miyamoto: It was “a big leap” to develop a 3D Mario title
From Super Mario 64 right through to Super Mario Galaxy 2, it is hard to imagine that there was ever any doubt in bringing the seasoned plumber into the realms of 3D.
Yet such a decision to do so was “a big leap” according to series creator Shigeru Miyamoto, with Nintendo fearing that they would alienate fans of the series by breaking away from the 2D action-platform roots that had proved so popular.
“For Nintendo, Mario 64 was a big leap for us. Of course, 3D technology had been used in movies and other arenas, but not in any interactive arena,” Miyamoto explained, during an interview with Techland. “And so, our focus was ‘How can we take this 3D environment and implement it in a way that works in our world?’ And I told people that there are other people working with these 3D environments but, as far as games, we are the pioneers. This is the frontier for us. Another thing that we considered when we were going into the 3D environment was that, of course, people were used to the familiar, side-scrolling Mario territory.”
He continues, “Anyone could pick it up and play [Super Mario Bros.] And everyone knew what they were getting into. But, when it moved into the 3D realm, of course, the perception was that things had changed and that it might be difficult to play. And so, it seemed that we were going to lose some customers who might just think, “I don’t know what that is.” That was too much for me to bear.”
Whilst the move to 3D clearly hasn’t affected Mario’s popularity across the globe, but what has been the secret to its continual success? Accessibility, Miyamoto believes, which has always been a continual target for the development team to achieve.
“And so we really focused for many years on doing this in a way that’s accessible. We’ve always had that focus and I think the pinnacle of our efforts right now is [Super Mario] Galaxy 2. That game was the result of a lot of focusing on how can we make a game that is challenging and familiar yet accessible and playable by everyone? We did that by lots of focus testing and keeping that [accessibility] at the forefront of our minds when moving forward. And I myself played it over and over and over.”