We now know that Super Mario 64 is one of the most important genre leaps in gaming history, taking Nintendo's mascot from 2D into 3D with enormous skill and craftsmanship. However, creating the game wasn't plain sailing, as a new Iwata Asks reveals.
The discussion — which comes in at a colossal 26 pages — reveals that during development, Shigeru Miyamoto felt the game wasn't going well:
When I was working on Super Mario 64, I realised halfway through that it was getting boring. I don't remember if it was when I watched someone playing it, but I was like, "Wait, a minute…" So I went around and asked everyone, "This game was really fun in the beginning, but now it doesn't feel fun anymore, does it?" And just as I'd expected, they all said, "We agree."
As it happens, the cause for Miyamoto's concern was a change in Mario's movement:
In the beginning, we had Mario turning really slowly, so that it was really overemphasized. But at some point he'd started turning really quickly. He kind of zipped around. So then we changed it so that he went back to turning really slowly. And well, I'm not sure if that was the right change to make, but it was really important to me. Because Super Mario 64 was a project that started from that turning movement.
Miyamoto calls his ability to identify small changes in a game's feel as his "special talent", but even a man of his considerable talent can get it wrong sometimes: Miyamoto originally objected to spinning Bowser by his tail in the game's iconic boss fights:
I didn't tell them [the team] it was impossible, but I said, "Don't explore that direction anymore." I just felt like it was pretty risky. Then something happened to get the program working, and I decided that since there was now a light at the end of the tunnel, we should go with it as one of the main features.
As with Mario Kart 7's customisation, Miyamoto was won over when he saw his team's accomplishments, yet it's fascinating to think how close a seminal video game came to missing its potential.