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1996 interview with Miyamoto, Super Mario 64 developers available in English for the first time

Posted on September 22, 2016 by in General Nintendo

Two seperate interviews from 1996 with Shigeru Miyamoto and other Nintendo employees who worked on Super Mario 64 together were recently translated and published on the website Shmuplations for any interested party to read.

The interviews come from a time where Super Mario 64 had just been released and was making waves in the gaming world. The questions cover a variety of topics about Super Mario 64, focusing mostly on the creative process of designing a game in 3D compared to 2D and the early history of the game.

On the origins of Super Mario 64 and how the project got started, Miyamoto had this to say:

Well, in the beginning… we were working on something really simple—deceptively simple, even, from the perspective of the team that would go on to finish the huge, final game. (laughs) There was a room made of simple lego-like blocks, and Mario and Luigi could run around in there, climb slopes, jump around, etc. We were trying to get the controls right with an analogue 3D stick, and once that felt smooth, we knew we were halfway there. And so, along the way, we realized wanted to create a slightly larger area for them to move around in…

On the differences of designing a level for a 3D game compared to a 2D game, Miyamoto said this:

In earlier Mario games, we were able to measure the number of pixels Mario could jump and know exactly what was possible. But this time, we had to design the levels so that as long as your jump was “close enough”, you’d make it; it was too hard for the player to judge. This was a design change we made in the middle of the development, when the game was far already very complete. There was a lot of booing from the staff.

Speaking about the creative process for designing levels in Super Mario 64, Miyamoto said this:

It was kind of like sculpting a diorama out of clay. First you make a very general shape. For example, with the King Bob-omb’s stage, for our initial, general design we’d have that river in the middle of the map, which you cross to reach the boss area, which is atop a big hill that you have to wind round and round as you ascend it. But say we put Mario in that map, and moving him around, we realize the river flows too fast and it sweeps him away (laughs), and that’s too hard for players, so we swap that river out for a desert valley, like Death Valley. So the form remains the same, but we gradually add more and more ideas, changing the map as we go.

The full interview has plenty more interesting facts about the game, which you can read here.

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