Shigeru Miyamoto On Potentially Remaking Mario 64 And Yoichi Kotabe's Art
During E3 2017, we had the chance to sit down with Shigeru Miyamoto, and we talked about whether Yoshi and a T-Rex could co-exist, nostalgia, and more. There was more to that discussion, however, and ahead of the release of Super Mario Odyssey on Friday, we decided to share the remainder of the chat. Below you can read Miyamoto's thoughts on potentially remaking Super Mario 64, Yoichi Kotabe's art, and more.
This interview was conducted by Ben Hanson and Kyle Hilliard.
Game Informer: What has been Mario’s biggest innovation since its leap to 3D for Super Mario 64?
Shigeru Miyamoto: Starting with the Nintendo 64, as you mentioned, we launched into the 3D realm for Mario and with that came the creation, or evolution, of the concept of a camera and using a camera. With that introduction there is always – it made it a little bit difficult for some people to play. With games like Galaxy, we tried to create a 3D game that you don’t need to control the camera to play. And then after that we discussed maybe going back to the roots of Mario, so we created the "New" Mario series. Then we created the 2D/3D hybrid with 3D Land.
I think, in terms of change, it’s not the innovation that changes, but how we think about that change, I think. For instance, in creating Super Mario Odyssey we thought, it’s okay to have a purely 3D experience, just like Mario 64 or Super Mario Sunshine was, where you have to control the camera. But we’ve also made sure it is very easy and approachable for anyone who finds that difficult. We tried to include that within the rules of the game, so things like making sure you don’t get game overs all the time and instead of trying to create a 2D/3D hybrid that’s more accessible, we changed our perspective to make the 3D more approachable for everybody. And so, the change was to be able to move your camera around freely and give Mario a lot of different actions that he can take and removing things like game overs so that the player can enjoy attempting trying many different things with Mario. And that’s the kind of change we created. Instead of being more like a game you navigate through, you have to look for moons, so it’s almost like puzzle solving now.
More camera control – is that the innovation you’re most excited about? Or is there something else you’re excited for players to get their hands on?
We did make the interface for controlling the camera a lot easier and there is a lot of A.I. support so you don’t have to control the camera very much, but those are just things that were added. Those aren’t examples of things I am really interested in or looking forward to. What I am looking forward to is being able to create a field where the user thinks for themselves and tries things out and uses their creativity to explore the world.
We talk about this idea of a Japanese boxed garden – it’s a concept used in Zelda as well – but to be able to use that and experience the game.
Have you been watching the positive reception for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? Has it given the Mario team a confidence boost?
This concept of open world is something I had when I built the very first Zelda and so it’s not that I have played a lot of open world games to get that concept, but I did feel that, as the franchise was moving forward, that we were losing that concept of open world and so we decided to go back to the essence and really kind of build a game that really brings to life that concept and I was definitely not sure how it was going to be accepted and I think the team was the same way in that we just built a game we thought would really bring to life what we were really trying to accomplish. And even with the last year to six months before the release all we could do was really try to believe in what we created and really polish and finish it up and make sure we felt good about it, and it wasn’t until those final touches that we felt like were going in the right direction. And even then, we definitely weren’t sure if it was going to do well or not, so I was very relieved when it did well.
To put it into a more detailed example, you have a terrain that you’re traversing and it has rivers and hills and it’s part of the fun, but if there is a rock formation here and a rock formation there, until this idea and concept is fun, until you put in the resources in to make it, you’re not sure if it is actually going to be fun.
We've been seeing more of Yoichi Kotabe’s classic Mario art lately in marketing and other places, like the character select screen in Super Mario 3D World. Will we ever see a 2D game made entirely of Kotabe’s art?
We’re at almost like a turning point. When you look at Mickey Mouse there is the classic Mickey Mouse, and then there is the modern Mickey Mouse and the classic one has a lot of flavor to it and the modern Mickey Mouse looks really great, but it is losing a little bit of the flavor, and that’s something we discuss to make sure we keep that intact as we’re creating characters. And of course the development team for any Mario game may want to use Kotabe’s art, but there is also a character-development team that’s really working hard to create new styles and new work. Once they get more work done, I think more and more of that will be reflected into games.
We did a collaboration recently with Uniqlo where it was a contest for people to send in drawings, and like that we want to continue create and evolve new art styles.
And you feel like the pristine, perfect flavor for 2D Mario is that beautiful, clean Kotabe art?
I do believe that Mr Kotabe’s art has become kind of a standard within Nintendo, but we definitely want to continue to see if we can evolve that as time goes by.
Would you ever like to see it move in the same way that a game like Rayman Legends, which is coming up on the Switch, in that beautiful 2D art style. Do you think Kotabe’s art could work with movement in that style?
I think there’s many different ways we could do it. But at the same time, if you ask some elementary school kids, a lot of them don’t recognize or don’t know the Mario from Mr. Kotabe. All they’ve seen is stuff from 3D Mario or 3D Mario World. So, I think our challenge is going to be trying to bring awareness to that side of Mario moving forward.
Nintendo did such a beautiful job for remaking the Nintendo 64 Zelda titles for 3DS. Do you feel like you’d ever want to see an update of Mario 64 as well? Or do you feel that that game visually holds up well?
We have a version of Mario 64 on the DS, and as you mentioned there are Zelda ports on the 3DS, but rather than focus on trying to remake them, I would rather if we were to think about porting them, focus on more recent titles, but using the unique gameplay elements of the Switch. When you think about the playstyle of the Switch it would be great if I could play all classic games on it.
Is that coming?
I figured you were going to pull out the cup trick again to see what comes up.