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Nintendo on Mario World / Yoshi’s Island – Yoshi’s creation and having him in a starring role, visual style, more

Posted on September 30, 2017 by (@NE_Brian) in General Nintendo, News

Nintendo has translated the full Super Mario World / Yoshi’s Island interview we saw snippets of in Japanese earlier this week. Out of all of Nintendo’s interviews for the SNES Classic Edition thus far, this one might be the most interesting.

Takashi Tezuka, Shigefumi Hino, and Hisashi Nogami were all present to talk about the SNES games. They chatted about how Yoshi came to be, how he ended up getting a starring role in his own title, the visual style for Yoshi’s Island, and a bunch more. We also have the official translation about the original plan to have Mario hitting Yoshi when his tongue sticks out.

Continue on below for the full interview with Tezuka, Hino, and Nogami.

Launching Super NES

Nogami-san, you’ve been involved with Animal Crossing [1] and Splatoon. [2] Super Mario World is one of the games we’re discussing today, but you hadn’t yet joined the company when it came out.

1. Animal Crossing : The first game in this series of community-simulation games was originally released in Japan for the Nintendo 64 system in April 2001. A total of six games have been released in the series, including installments for the Wii and Nintendo 3DS systems.

2. Splatoon : The first game in this series of shooting games was released for the Wii U system in May 2015, and a second game was released for the Nintendo Switch system in July 2017.

Nogami: That’s right. My first job was Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island.

When Super NES released, were you a college student?

Nogami: Yes. I think I was a freshman in college.

You encountered Super Mario World as just a player. Later, I’ll ask you what you thought about it.

Nogami: All right.

Hino-san, you’ve been involved with most of the games in the Pikmin [3] series.

3. Pikmin : The first game in this series of puzzle-strategy games was originally released in Japan for the Nintendo GameCube system in October 2001. The latest game, Hey! PIKMIN , was released for Nintendo 3DS in July 2017.

Nogami: That’s right. I’ve been involved with the series from the first game through Pikmin 3 for Wii U. Later, for development of Super Mario Maker [4], I was involved with implementing art I had done for Super Mario World.

4. Super Mario Maker : This game was released for Wii U in September 2015. Players enjoy making Super Mario courses and playing courses that others have made. Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS was released in December 2016.

In other words, pixel art that you had done a long time ago returned in Super Mario Maker.

Hino: Yes. I had done that art about 26 years ago, so it really brought back memories.

Super Mario World was your first job, wasn’t it?

Hino: It was my second year at the company, and it was the first game I worked on that went out into the world.

Does that mean there were games that didn’t go out into the world?
Hino: Yes. As a designer, I worked on a sequel to Famicom Grand Prix: F1 Race [5] for the Family Computer Disk System.

Kazunobu Shimizu [6] was the director of that racing game, wasn’t he?

5. Famicom Grand Prix: F1 Race: A racing game released for the Family Computer Disk System in October 1987.

6. Kazunobu Shimizu: This developer has been involved in the development of such games as F-ZERO and F-ZERO: Maximum Velocity. He participated in the interview in this series that covered F-Zero.

Hino: Yes, that’s right.

When I did the interview for this series regarding F-ZERO, I heard that the sequel couldn’t be released because it got bashed when it was shown to staff at Nintendo of America. (laughs)

Hino: Oh, I didn’t know that. I thought it was pretty good…

However, that was how F-ZERO [7] came to be. In your second year at the company, you came to be involved with Super Mario, Nintendo’s top series. How did that feel?

7. F-ZERO : A racing game set in the future. It was originally released in Japan in November 1990 and is also included in Super NES Classic Edition .

Hino: I felt a great deal of pressure. It was a launch title for Super NES, and the previous game, Super Mario Bros. 3 [8], was really well-made, so it was intimidating to know it would be compared to that. For that reason, I worried a lot over how we could present Super Mario in a fresh way on Super NES.

8. Super Mario Bros. 3: A platform game originally released in Japan for the Famicom system in October 1988. This game was discussed in the interview covering Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3 for the NES Classic Edition system.

Tezuka-san, you were the director of Super Mario World. When did development start?

Tezuka: That was a long time ago, so my memory isn’t that great… (laughs) I think we started in 1988.

That would mean you made the game in less than two years.

Tezuka: Development was shorter than for Super Mario Bros. 3.

During my interview for NES Classic Edition covering Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3, I heard that development for Super Mario Bros. 3 wandered a little and took two and a half years.

Tezuka: That’s right. For Super Mario Bros. 3, while I was director, I also did the visuals.

You had a wide variety of work.

Tezuka: Yes. But I didn’t think it was good to take on too much, so when we made Super Mario World, I left the visuals to Hino.

“I Want Mario to Ride a Horse!”

I’d like to ask about Yoshi. Super Mario World has several noteworthy characteristics. One is that it marks Yoshi’s debut.

Tezuka: Uh-huh.

How did Yoshi come to be?

Tezuka: Shigeru Miyamoto said he wanted Mario to ride a horse!

A horse? (laughs)

Tezuka: I think he likes horses. (laughs) When we were making Super Mario Bros. 3, he had drawn a picture of Mario on a horse, and hung it on a wall near where he used to sit. I would look at that and think, “I think he wants Mario to ride something.” When we started making Super Mario World, we were working with the concept of a dinosaur land, so I had Hino do art for a kind of reptile.

Hino: The first keyword was horse, so I imagined something rather large and first drew up a creature like a large lizard.

A large lizard? (laughs)

Tezuka: It was like a crocodile. (laughs)

Yoshi is quite different from a crocodile! (laughs)

Tezuka: Yeah. It felt out of place to have a reptile suddenly appear in Mario’s world, so we went back and talked about how maybe it shouldn’t be like a crocodile.

In other words, the two of you consulted each other as you searched for the prototype for Yoshi. How did that croc-like creature shape up into Yoshi?

Hino: Tezuka had done a rough sketch and it was cute and pretty good, so I polished up Yoshi into his current form based on that.

Tezuka: That happened relatively quickly. I kind of forced the design though, saying, “It’s related to turtles.” (laughs)

That’s why, instead of a saddle, what’s on Yoshi’s back is…

Nogami: A shell. Even after I joined the company, Tezuka kept insisting that it was a shell. (laughs)

(laughs) And that’s how Super Mario World, which debuted Yoshi as kin to turtles, became the top-selling title worldwide for Super NES.

Tezuka: Really…?

As if you don’t know! (laughs)

Tezuka: (laughs) Launch titles are the first games that let players try the new hardware’s features, so they benefit in being able to surprise many players who are experiencing those features for the first time.

Oh, I see. Nogami-san, you were just a regular player at the time. What surprised you when you played Super Mario World?

Nogami: A lot of things surprised me. For example, there’s a foreground and background with overlapped scrolling. It introduced things that made me say, “Super NES can even do this!”

It surprised you with visuals that NES didn’t have.

Nogami: Yes. Another thing that made an impression was the action of the fence flipping around, and how characters that were in front of the fence would go behind it. Those were things that couldn’t have been done with NES, so I thought they were very interesting.

You were still a student, but you looked at it like a pro! (laughs)

Nogami: No, not at all! (laughs)

Had you decided by that time that you wanted to make video games?

Nogami: I loved video games, so I did think that I wanted to make them someday.

Tezuka: Nogami was part of the inaugural class of the Game Seminar. [9]

9. Game Seminar = Nintendo Dentsu Game Seminar: A practical game development course held for students. The seminar was held three times, beginning in 1990. From 2003, the seminar was then renamed to Nintendo Game seminar.

The seminars are currently suspended.

Nogami: Yes, but I actually played Super Mario World before joining the seminar!

New Actions with Yoshi

Now I’d like to discuss Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. It was released in 1995. That’s four years after Super Mario World.

Tezuka: Yes.

How did you come to make a platform game with Yoshi as the main character?

Hino: After development of Super Mario World ended, I had some downtime, and Miyamoto said, “How long are you going to be doing visuals?”

What did he mean?

Hino: At Nintendo back then, designers would just do visuals for a few years after entering the company. After that, it was generally understood that you would move on to become a director or planner.

So Miyamoto-san was trying to say that you should stop with the art and come up with a project.

Hino: Yeah. So then I entered a period of thinking up all sorts of projects, experimenting with them, and canning them over and over. It got to the point where I thought if the next project fell through, I couldn’t stay at the company.

You were prepared for the worst.

Hino: Yeah. Just then, I had the idea of making Yoshi the main character in a game. I began by starting to think about making the game a sort of spin-off of the Super Mario series.

Did you think of that by yourself?

Hino: I started thinking about it myself, but I discussed it with Tezuka for the longest time.

What were you doing at that time, Tezuka-san?

Tezuka: I was involved with development of the Legend of Zelda series, like development of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past [10] and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. [11]

10. The Legend of Zelda : A Link to the Past : An action-adventure game included in Super NES Classic Edition. Originally released in Japan in November 1991.

11. The Legend of Zelda : Link’s Awakening : An action-adventure game released for the Game Boy system. Originally released in Japan in June 1993.

So between development work, you consulted with Hino-san.

Tezuka: Yes.

Why did you want to make Yoshi the main character?

Hino: It’s just my personal opinion, but I felt like, with Super Mario World, we had done everything we could with a side-scrolling jumping game.

Oh, I see. After that, Super Mario 64 [12] came out and for a while the focus was on more three-dimensional action and not side-scrolling.

12. Super Mario 64 : A platform game released for the Nintendo 64 system. Originally released in Japan in June 1996.

Hino: Right. I wondered what kind of side-scrolling platform game we could make and thought we could create new gameplay if Yoshi were the main character. I think I started with the idea of having Yoshi carry something to the goal.

Making Yoshi the main character would give birth to new actions.

Tezuka: Right. We made new actions, and one I thought was good was the Flutter Jump. Mario can’t do an action like that and it would help people who have difficulty with platformers.

You wanted to make it enjoyable for people who were gaming for the first time.

Tezuka: Yeah! So when you make contact with an enemy, instead of just bumming out, there’s a mechanism for not losing a life.We tried to think of new actions that would allow newcomers to enjoy playing.

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