Super Mario 3D World appeared to be — initially at least — a divisive announcement at E3. We knew a 3D Mario was coming, but the successor to Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS was a surprise considering expectations of a title more in-line with the Galaxy releases on Wii. It may make commercial sense and provide delight in the final, full game, but there was undoubtedly some disappointment at the reveal.

Yet as the highest profile Wii U release during the Holiday season, much focus will be on the multiplayer credentials of this title, and its ability to coax consumers into buying the system. Unlike the Toad twins of the New Super Mario Bros. series, this one brings to mind NES title Super Mario Bros. 2, with Peach returning and all four characters having abilities reminiscent of that 8-bit classic.

In an interview with Time, director Koichi Hayashida and producer Yoshiaki Koizumi explained how the development team sought to open up 3D Mario to full multiplayer for the first time, and why it was left as local only.

Mr. Hayashida: I think that we’ve always wanted to focus on being able to see the other players around you. I always thought that was fun.

Mr. Koizumi: The first Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System had two controllers, so you could play multiplayer with someone right next to you. I think that we wanted to accomplish the same kind of feeling in a 3D Mario game for the first time.

Mr. Hayashida: I’ve always really enjoyed playing games with my children. In Super Mario Galaxy, we had the “assist play mode” that was available, but this is the first time that we’ve implemented a real multiplayer where the second player is moving a character around on screen in a 3D Mario game. And so I’m really happily looking forward to the experience of playing that with my kids.

Mr. Koizumi: And now that Peach has been included, I’m also hoping that people will be able to play the game with their girlfriends. Perhaps some of their girlfriends will find Peach as a more appealing character to play – or your wife, of course.

That final line from Koizumi is perhaps a little ill-advised in gender-sensitive times, as the stereotyped cake-baking kidnap victim Peach may not be the most heroic character to appeal to girlfriends and wives. When asked about whether Peach would star in her own game, it was questioned whether there'd be enough of an audience.

Mr. Hayashida: Well I definitely should point out that there was a game called Super Princess Peach where you could play as Peach, so that’s definitely an option. It’s not something we have ruled out. In fact, we have made a game of that sort.

Mr. Koizumi: I always think of the Super Mario games as taking place in a really cute world that appeals to everyone. We certainly looked into who finds different sorts of things appealing in these games among boys and girls. I personally feel that Peach is very appealing to girls who play our games. But I sometimes wonder: If we made a lot of games starring Peach as the main character, is that something that boys would be as interested in? I don’t know.

Stepping away from gender politics, this interview also confirmed support for the Wii U Pro Controller — this is added to the GamePad and its motion controls / touch screen interactivity, and sideways Wii Remotes. That'll be a welcome option for those that want two player games with both on analogue controls, or even those that simply prefer the smaller controller.

So, what do you think about these comments on Peach as a playable character? Will girls naturally prefer the not-so-heroic Princess, or does the character's gender not make any difference? Let us know what you think in the comments section, though please stick closely to the topic at hand.