When making a game in a universe with such massive, long-standing presence as the Mario series, it would seem a no-brainer to start mixing that familiar essence in right from square one.
But not so with Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon; the brother was granted a cleaner slate. In an interview with Gamasutra, developer Bryce Holliday from Vancouver’s Next Level Games shared how Nintendo supervisors Yoshihito Ikibata and Ryuichi Nakada requested a tight lid on nostalgic elements in the early stages of creation:
In development, at the beginning — looking back it looks quite different how much nostalgia's in the game — but at the beginning, Ikebata-san and Nakada-san were kind of holders of the framework, so to say. They said, "No Mario references, no nostalgia," at the very beginning. "Make a game" — or make demos or proof of concepts — "that don't need to rely on that support."
According to Holliday and fellow developer Brian Davis, it was only after the core of the game took shape that they began adding motifs from other Mario titles and the first Luigi’s Mansion.
The Gamasutra interview delves into further topics on the making of Dark Moon, but it’s interesting to see evidence that Nintendo might not lean so strongly on its IPs as some critics say. What do you think of a “nostalgia embargo” in the beginning of game development?