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More talk from Miyamoto regarding Mario on 3DS, brief Zelda: Skyward Sword status update, general Mario talk and more

Posted on November 8, 2010 by (@NE_Brian) in 3DS, DS, General Nintendo, News, Wii

Miyamoto on how Mario become a character…

“If you look at the technology we have now we obviously have a bigger screen and there is a lot more space and you can do a lot more detailed artwork. But if you go back to (1981’s) Donkey Kong, it was a 16-by-16 (inch) screen area. The character I came up with to fit that best was this small little guy with a big nose and a mustache, the characteristics that would stand out in that medium. We created the game design first and then we put the characters in to fit that. With Donkey Kong, we have this gorilla who grabs this gal and runs away with her and you have to go chase the gorilla down to save the lady. And the game’s stage was a construction site, so we made him into basically a carpenter. …. With (1983’s) Mario Bros., we brought in Luigi and a lot of the game was played underground so we made him to fit that setting and, we decided he could be a plumber. The scenario dictates his role.”

Miyamoto on whether or not Mario has a hat because it was difficult to draw hair…

“The technology of the time really dictated how we did character design. If I gave Mario a lot of hair you have to animate it or it doesn’t look right. By giving him a hat we didn’t have to worry about that. We also didn’t have to draw his eyebrows, his forehead or any of these other things. It was just a really useful tool to help us emphasize what we were trying to do on this small screen.”

Miyamoto on what he thinks it is about Mario that resonates so well with players…

“When we create games, the gamer really is the main character. In that regard it may not really matter who the main character is onscreen. But you know, Mario is someone who has become very familiar and I think it is that people are comfortable with becoming Mario. … Mario really has grown and changed and evolved with the evolution of digital technology. The new technology is fresh and exciting and the next thing you know it becomes familiar and Mario follows that. He’s a familiar character, but he is also fresh because he is always doing new things based on what the technology allows him to do.”

Miyamoto on whether or not his strategy has been to give players more adventures to take Mario through using new technologies or design breakthroughs…

“Yes. It is interesting that when Mario was first introduced and he was on that trend where he was a really popular character, they did a popularity survey somewhere and they found … at that time Mario was higher on the scale than Mickey Mouse. I thought personally, Mickey Mouse was a character who had been around for 40 years at that point and (Mario) being compared to Mickey Mouse was something that I was really embarrassed about. I wasn’t really comfortable with that. That being said, I saw that the way Mickey had evolved, we decided that Mario was going to be a character who would evolve and chance with the advances in digital technology.”

Miyamoto on whether or not there are advances in technology that were especially important for Mario…

“I think one of the biggest advances and biggest changes for us was the introduction of the technology in the Nintendo 64 and that game (Super Mario 64). Up until then, Mario had to been in a 2D world and obviously we had to go frame by frame by frame moving the skeleton around to create all of his individual animations. Moving him into the 3D world and the advances in how we were able to animate him was a huge difference for us.”

Miyamoto on what point he realized he created a worldwide hit…

“In terms of the focus and creation and living in Japan and creating in Japan, we look at the Japanese media and what is popular in our culture. We are looking at Mario, where is he at, not sort of the ranking, but where is he at in our marketplace. That being said, when we created Donkey Kong, it was a big hit overseas so when we make our games we try to make things that are not focused on one market or one particular culture or one particular people and where there is some difficulties in that I really think it does free us up in a different way to just make what we want and hope that universal appeal will branch across all cultures.

It is hard to look back and find an exact point where we sort of reached that lucky point in our career. In creating this character and trying to make the gamer feel as if … whatever Mario is doing the character is doing as well. I think we were able to do that fairly well (and) I think we were able to go across all these cultural boundaries and I think that is what helped with the wide appeal.

Why has he been a success in different cultures? I don’t know. I don’t really have a chance to sit back and have a viewpoint. Just that universal viewpoint is what has helped him along.”

Miyamoto on the music and the effect that was intended in Super Mario Bros…

“You know the music, Mr. Koji Kongo has been responsible for the music for a long time and I just feel very comfortable and know the music is in good hands with Mr. Kongo. I don’t really have much to say about how he makes the music, but I do listen to it and voice my opinion as to whether it fits the game and Mr. Kongo and I often sit down and discuss ‘What is game music?’ and ‘What separates it from your everyday music?’. Game music has a purpose and it does incorporate sound effects. So we do sit down and have these discussions about what game music is.

For example the music in Mario Kart midway through the pace changes and the tempo really picks up. That is one thing I think you can notice right away. There are a lot of things you are only going to find in video game music. One thing we have to think about when you are dealing with video game music is that the sounds, the melody that you are going to hear, is repreated over and over and over. So it has got to be something that is recognizable, is catchy and makes you want to hum along with it. Again those are things that are present in what you would consider is standard music composition.

Now I think it is fair to let it be known that I like bluegrass and ragtime and I think Mr. Kondo has been kind so you might find some influence of that in there. Some of the chord synchronization or some of the sounds and tones of the instrumentation he uses, that is just Mr. Kondo being nice to me.”

Miyamoto’s favorite Mario game…

Super Mario World (1993) is something that included of course all the action you saw in Super Mario Bros. but it also had the map features, so it also had that element of players having to think about where they were going and what they were going to do next. I also think that it is a game that developed a large number of staff people who became producers and directors.”

Miyamoto on what about his childhood led him to become a game designer…

“That is hard to say. I know as a child, I was really interested in becoming a manga artist, to create my own stories and illustrate them and present something that people would be interested in reading and looking at as well. I was also interested in puppets and wanted to make a puppet show. As far as where I played and what I did, it was sort of … there was no intent. It was just out playing and doing whatever kids do. I think a lot those experiences have influenced what I do. Really it is that even as I child, I wanted to create something and show it to people and have them enjoy it. And I just kept repeating that and eventually found my way into what I do now.”

Miyamoto on one thing about Mario most people don’t know…

“That history book (included in the new Super Mario All-Stars game, out Dec. 12) does includes some information that might be surprising to people. … For example, we were working on the original Super Mario (Bros.), we had on our original planning documents a lot more actions for Mario. We were thinking about flying through the sky, riding on clouds, doing a whole bunch of different things and we were still working on the control functions. To be honest, I just don’t remember but maybe we were thinking of jumping on a button or was it up on the plus control pad? It may have been that the original spec was for Mario to jump using the plus control pad. That’s probably something most people don’t know.”

Miyamoto on Mario’s future adventures…

“Of course, we are working on a Mario product for the Nintendo 3DS, I can tell you that. One of the things we have looked at, you know when you are in a 3D world but on a 2D screen it is difficult sometimes to tell distance, whether an object you are looking at is in the foreground, in the background, is the object above you? Sometimes it’s a little bit harder. So it’s going to be really exciting for us to make that easier for the player to understand using the Nintendo 3DS technology. And for the first time ever Mario will be on a handheld system with an analog stick for controls. That’s new.”

Miyamoto on The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword…

“We haven’t prepared any press releases since the last one so there is nothing I can reveal that is new other than to say we are working on it and it is going along like gangbusters.”

Miyamoto on how his job has played out since two years ago…

“It is pretty much what my expectations were. To be honest I would like to be able to step back a bit and let the staff do the work without having to worry about. But I find myself really involved, perhaps more than I should be. But it’s really enjoyable for me.”

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