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LEGO Super Mario lead designer on scrapped ideas, Nintendo’s involvement

Posted on May 26, 2020 by (@NE_Brian) in General Nintendo, News

LEGO Super Mario

The creation of LEGO Super Mario has been a long process for both LEGO and Nintendo. Since 2015, the two sides have been working together to see how they could bring a unique product to life.

Unsurprisingly, there were a few scrapped ideas along the way. Speaking about the creation of LEGO Super Mario with GamesIndustry, lead designer Jonathan Bennink said:

“We tried a concept where kids would have to complete levels in the app, and then they’d build it in that way… but it kind-of took all of the fun and the light-heartedness out of the building because kids were only completing levels in the app. We figured they did that enough in video games already. We felt that the fun here is being creative and building.

… Fairly early on we knew we wanted an interactive character, but then what do you do? Initially we had this motion game where kids could run around the room with this figure, collect coins and jump. The kids were excited, but then we came out and presented it, and some of the management said: ‘Yeah, but why is it LEGO play?’ LEGO is about building and using your creativity. That jump from saying we have an idea of having an interactive figure, to why does it make sense for Lego to do? That has been the biggest challenge.

Then we came up with this idea from one of the brainstorms that anything you build between the start and the finish is a level, and that evolved into you collecting coins in the level, then time limits, challenges to overcome…”

Elsewhere in the interview, Bennink discussed the heavy involvement from Nintendo. The Big N was very involved in the creation process, the technology, and even drop tests.

As revealed by Bennink:

“Hands-on is putting it very nicely. They are just so passionate about anything they do. They care about what the consumer in the end feels more than anything else. They’ve been a part of making the play concept from the earliest sketches. Sometimes they would make a prototype, sometimes we would, and we’d ship them back and forth. They really did the essential thinking on what the play could be.

They also helped us with the technology. We developed the sensor technology together, and now they are helping us go to market. It’s been a rather unique collaboration for Lego, where we have been so close on everything that we do, including the packaging and the drop tests. In prototype they would drop it 6,000 times.

Of course, there was this guy [shows us Lego Mario]. It took us well over a year to go from the idea of having this screen in a Mario to this character that was approved. It’s a funky looking Mario, because he’s square. That’s because of the technology in him. Technology tends to be square — with things like batteries, etc — and also traditional Lego is square, so we felt it was a good fit. And then the cap… the cap of Mario is so important and iconic, it had to be the shape it is. Also, his belly, which overhangs there, is actually the shape of the Lego car hood. These little hair bits are the shape of Lego one-by-ones. We tried to make Mario out of Lego elements.”

LEGO Super Mario will debut on August 1.

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