The latest edition of Iwata Asks is out now, and it focuses on 3DS's next goldmine: New Super Mario Bros. 2. This time Nintendo global president Satoru Iwata is joined by director Yusuke Amano, art director Masaaki Ishikawa and, arriving fashionably late, EAD general manager Takashi Tezuka.
Apparently Mario's latest adventure is so fixated on gold that some members of the development team considered putting the word in the title. Ultimately, though, it ended up with that all-important numeral attached because Nintendo decided it held enough merit as an "orthodox" Super Mario game.
Amano: Because of the focus on coins, we considered including "Gold" in the title.
Iwata: New Super Mario Bros. Gold?
Amano: Yeah. But it has more stages than the Wii and Nintendo DS games, and a lot of new elements, so it holds plenty of fun as orthodox Super Mario.
The interview also reveals some interesting approaches that Nintendo took with the game. Level construction began before it became a full product, and staff from several other departments joined a Mario Cram School set up by series veterans Tezuka and Toshihiko Nakago. The plan was to spread knowledge of the 2D Mario basics throughout the company more readily.
As a result of this measure, plenty of new ideas came about; in fact, Amano and Ishikawa were the only two core members of the team that had any previous experience on 2D Mario titles. Staff more experienced in the art of side-scrolling plumbers are instead working on Wii U's New Super Mario Bros. U.
Amano: But Ishikawa-san and I were the only two core members of this project who had some sort of experience working on 2D Super Mario games.
Iwata: Developers with experience in 2D Super Mario are working on Super Mario for the Wii U right now. It was an unprecedented approach, even though Tezuka-san and Nakago-san were both working very closely to the development team, more than they ever had on a 2D Mario game, from the time they took the podium at Mario Cram School to the actual development phases of this project.
Amano: Yeah. A few people from the Software Planning & Development Department, in addition to their design staff, also joined.
Iwata: I believe quite a number of unique individuals with great dynamic range in term of capabilities came to participate from the Software Planning & Development Department.
Amano: Yes. Some knew a lot about games and some didn't, but the Mario Cram School we mentioned earlier came in incredibly useful. Participants got a firm grasp of the basic ingredients of what makes 2D Super Mario enjoyable and experienced actually making stages, so we were able to begin this project with a solid foundation.
There was also a desire to change some small elements to freshen up the formula. One example is that some levels now take place at night or dusk, replacing the eternal blue sky. Plus there are new enemies that appear familiar but act in unexpected ways, such as gigantic ghost Boohemoth. At first it acts shy and freezes like a regular Boo, then begins to creep forward whether you're looking its way or not. We suppose that one's not too unexpected any more.
Ishikawa: We thought it might be fun because people familiar with Super Mario games so far may be caught off guard and be like "Huh? Boo's sneaking after me!" You may be taken by surprise here and there in this game in a good way, and I hope that makes it feel fresh.
Iwata: I suppose many people may take a quick glance at New Super Mario Bros. 2 and think, "Oh, it's the usual Super Mario."
Iwata: But I get the impression from when I actually played it that if you think it's the same and don't take it seriously you'll run into trouble.
Amano: That's right. The staff had a strong desire this time to think of tough things that people might even get angry about. And we've changed some things with regard to the setup to make a fresh impression.
Be sure to check out the full interview to read Iwata and company talk about downloadable content, new modes, co-operative play and how Shigeru Miyamoto nearly upended yet another tea table over the coin block power up.