The lights are on
Last week, Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto received a BAFTA fellowship award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Miyamoto, as you’re certainly aware, has created some of gaming’s most iconic characters and franchises, including Super Mario Bros. and the Legend of Zelda. We had a chance to speak with the legendary designer and producer while he was in London. In addition to talking about his latest project, Super Mario Galaxy 2, we discussed subjects such as expanding the definition of gaming, his thoughts on social networking and more.
The Nintendo 3DS hadn’t yet been revealed at the time of our conversation, but he did touch on the subject of 3D televisions. “Right now we’re at the stage where it’s very hard for us to determine whether it’s very good or bad,” he said just days before Nintendo announced that it was working on a portable system with glasses-free 3D technology.
Read on for the full interview.You don’t typically revisit games in straight-up sequels, so Super Mario Galaxy 2 came as a surprise. What was it about Super Mario Galaxy that made you want to return to it?
The main reason is that as soon as we completed Super Mario Galaxy we thought we weren’t able to include a lot of the new ideas that we really wanted to. As soon as the project was over we started making something that we might call version 1.5. We did things like moving or adding stars to levels that were already available. As we made progress with this 1.5, we realized that there were too many things to fit into a version 1.5. That made us realize we should start from scratch and make Super Mario Galaxy 2. That’s how we started working on the game. As you were surprised, it’s actually quite unusual for us to make two different games in the same series on one platform. Usually we wait until the advent of new hardware, but for this time around because there were so many ideas we were not able to include in the first volume, we thought we should make a sequel to that.
Was the premise of worlds made up of tiny little planets something that lent itself to creating all of those ideas?
Well, you know for this time around we’re going to have Yoshi available, and that was not possible with the prequel. Also, we thought there are many ideas left undone about taking advantage of the pointer. Also, in Mario Galaxy 1 we made very unusual terrain, and we thought that there were many other ideas that could possibly be implemented.
Can you talk more about that expanded pointer functionality?
One thing I should identify with that is the introduction of Yoshi. More exactly, aiming the pointer at specific enemies makes Yoshi swallow that enemy. We used to have the gem-capture functionality, and that helped decide where Mario was going to move ahead. With Super Mario Galaxy 2, you can actually identify and point at things that Yoshi can grab with his tongue and then grab that point in order to reach additional points.
Did your team learn anything about moving Yoshi in 3D from Super Mario Sunshine that you were able to apply while in Super Mario Galaxy 2? Was there anything in particular you thought worked well in that first example or things that you thought could be improved?
Some of the staff that worked on Super Mario Sunshine are working on Super Mario Galaxy 2. Naturally, the know-how has already been inherited. Having said that, however, the biggest notable difference has to be the use of the pointer. Basically, by taking advantage of the pointer functionality, all you have to do is to point out some specific area and Yoshi is going to swallow the object that has been pinpointed. Then, by pointing out an enemy character, Yoshi can spit out the object and hit that character.
Is there a hub world in Mario Galaxy 2, or will players move from level to level through an overworld map, like with Super Mario Bros. 3 or New Super Mario Bros. Wii?
You can think of it in terms of something similar to Super Mario World or New Super Mario Bros. Wii, where you will have a rather convenient map to navigate.
Is there a particular reason behind that decision? Did you want people to be able to get into the action faster?
We want players to focus on the joy of the action instead of getting to each game course. We wanted to make it as accessible as possible and as easy as possible for the players. Also because we’re going to incorporate a number of different stars and conquering all the stars is going to be one of the most challenging missions for the player, we want them to understand as easy as possible where they should go next and which places they should go back to in order to get access to the remaining stars. Also, for this time around we are incorporating the starship in order to navigate around the different planets, and the map is actually catering to the need to make access as easy as possible.
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