News Article

Developers: No Nostalgia Allowed in Creating Core of Dark Moon

Posted by Tim Latshaw

Mario minus Mario

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?


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User Comments (33)



grimbldoo said:

I like it. Make a game and then add the nostalgia, you don't want the game to run off of nostalgia.



8thGenConsoles said:

I still don't understand why this game is exclusive to 3DS. Nintendo needed to port this game to Wii U or better yet, make it a Wii U exclusive.



ajmetz said:

@Raylax Mario 3D Land is too friggin' awesome for that statement to apply to that game...but I'll let you have the NSMB dig, .



TanookiMike said:

This is really interesting! I was wondering why the game had such a heavy early-mid 1900s theme rather than the usual fantasy-with-medival-elements theme of the Mario series. It almost seemed odd, as there were multiple easy opportunities to link it back to the other games (i.e. using Piranha Plants in the overgrown tower world or 1-Up Mushrooms in place of the golden dog bones). I'm glad I know why now. They did a nice job of creating their own sub series that doesn't feel too burdened by anything else.



misswliu81 said:

i think this approach has paid dividends. it doesn't feel mario-like, but more luigi-like. as it should be.



ScreamoPichu said:

I still found it nostalgic that you could still yell "Mario". But I guess since that's not from a Mario game it doesn't count.



NintyMan said:

I think this approach helped this game. As others mentioned, the absence of Mario lets the game focus more on Luigi himself, giving him more of the spotlight.

It seems like they just wanted the team to focus on Luigi himself and the world of Luigi's Mansion at first rather than incorporate too many Mario references. There's still cameos of the first Luigi's Mansion, and I remember reading someone writing that a Tiki from DKCR is hidden in the game as well.



NintendoCat14 said:

I like the returning power-ups, enemies, and ideas from the classic Mario games that have been present in the NSMB series and Super Mario 3D Land, but this game got it right: we need all-new stuff. Nostalgia is cool, but we need ALL-NEW stuff. I'm tired of putting up with remakes of games from 20 years ago being marketed as "New". This is an example of moving forward. It's packed to the brim with originality, and that's one of the reasons it's one of my favorite 3DS games. It also helps explain why New Super Mario Bros 2 is my least favorite Mario platformer ever.



NintendoPro64 said:

Very interesting. I personally would have liked it if we just saw Mario sleeping in the house or something and Luigi progressing on his own, but hey, don't take prisoners I guess. Certainly helped Luigi stand his own. Hope this game outsells the original!
I 100% agree! For Super Mario 3D Land, I liked the allusion pool.
But for NSMB2, all the recycling did was weigh that game down.



NintendoPro64 said:

But seriously though, I think it's high time we laid NSMB to rest. Each game was good, but all that nostalgia's doing is making the experience stale. For Mario's next 2D adventure, lose the "New" sticker, and revamp everything! Or borrow from Super Mario Bros. 2 or Super Mario Land! Being able to use 4 different characters for different situations or being able to kick butt in a vehicle could really give Mario a much needed change of pace!

Oh, and Miyamoto, it's good to hear you'll be taking online more seriously from now on. So next time you make a 2D Mario, follow Ubisoft's example and add some leaderboards or online challenge modes or something! It would break my heart if the next 2D Mario got called "rehash", because of the double-NSMB bananza last year.



Dpullam said:

Obviously their game plan worked because they created one of the best 3DS games thus far.



sinalefa said:

I agree that approach is very interesting and allows for more creativity and ideas that can stand on their own. So the nostalgia is just for embellishment and not the focus or the crutch of the game.



Ernest_The_Crab said:

Well, the game does feel like its own world. Other than the coins and Luigi himself the game doesn't seem very Mario-like, which is the point.

Frankly, if I was training a new team to takeover, I'd want them to get the basics right before adding stuff left and right especially since NSMB isn't handled by EAD Tokyo.

Well, at least the next Mario game will be handled by EAD Tokyo; haven't seen anything from them since Super Mario 3D Land on portables and Super Mario Galaxy 2 on home consoles.



Kirk said:

That makes sense.

The cool nostalgia stuff and references should be a layer of icing on top of a cake where the sponge and filling alone would still taste amazing even if there was no icing.



Kirk said:


Half agree with this actually.

If you take away the Mario stuff on the surface it's not a particularly exciting game in this day and age.

I mean it has much of the core stuff that makes it a decently enjoyable platformer in it's own right but the truth of it is that most of that stuff has already been done better in previous Mario games and this game doesn't really take it any further or bring anything truly unique and exciting all of it's own to the table.

I mean even if they'd at least given us a visual look and polish that was truly worthy of this day and age we could have at least marveled at the visuals if nothing else.

The game's not bad though, it just didn't get me pumped, excite me or blow me away in the way the likes of Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World, Yoshi's Island and Super Mario 64 did when they were released for example.

Maybe the new full 3D Mario game will do that but to be honest I've always preferred the far more precise, responsive and perfected controls/gameplay and camera/view of the 2D Mario games and that's the one thing the 3D games still haven't really nailed 100% imo.



LordessMeep said:

It was a pretty good approach to the game actually. We ended up with something that can hold its own within the Mario-verse. I hope that we can see more Mario from Next-Level Games, they did a stellar job with LM:DM. I'd like to see their take on a handheld 3D Mario game, similar Galaxy/Sunshine (not SM3DL-esque, though. Loved it, but it wasn't a true console Mario game).



Emaan said:

Very interesting design technique. Though I almost wish there were more references to the original in this game.



Byron-3D said:

the more i play this game the better it gets, I've finished it once and norm wont play through again for at least 6 months but I'm considering having an other bash already.



Senate_Guard said:

I love how fresh the enviorments look in DM. Nostalgia is always fine, but sometimes we need something new.

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