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Inafune: If You Haven't Played Mario, You're Probably Not Good At Designing Games

Posted by Damien McFerran

"Mario is, for game creators, the development bible"

Nintendo's Mario series is arguably one of the most influential in the realm of video gaming. Super Mario Bros. on the NES almost single-handedly turned the 2D platformer into the world's genre of choice, while the transition to 3D in Super Mario 64 achieved a similar impact and resulted in countless clones and copycat titles.

Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune has been speaking to IGN as part of its "Mario Memories" piece and speaks of the series in glowing terms:

If any creator has not played Mario, then they’re probably not a good creator. That’s something I can say with 100 percent confidence. Mario is, for game creators, the development bible. There are so many hints about good design, about cute characters, about innovation in using an existing gameplay system. It’s something you have to constantly look at and examine and take hints from as a game creator. It’s the anchor that grounds almost all games.

Inafune also has praise for Mario's creator:

I have total respect for Miyamoto, to the point where… It’s very strange that there are national cultural treasures – they’re traditionally sportsmen. I think it’s very strange that somebody as famous as Miyamoto hasn’t been designated one of those people. He’s talked about in all different countries. Lots of people know him. He’s pushed forward Japanese culture and interest in Japan all over the world. He’s somebody that deserves everyone’s ultimate respect, and a lot of that is due to being able to create Mario. And Super Mario Bros. 3, of course, within that, was a fantastic game.


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User Comments (39)



3Daniel said:

The original mario os a must play. The first level is brilliant in how it teaches the player the ropes of what to expect without the literal tutorial everyone depends on now.



Mk_II said:

i'd say Miyamoto is an international cultural treasure.. he's given so much to the world

@VoiceOfReason look closely... the NES isn't even switched on and the game they're supposed to be playing is lying on the table.



Whopper744 said:

It's a requirement to play Super Mario Bros at least once for everybody isn't it?



XCWarrior said:

Never had truer words been spoken. Any developer making games today that include the crap we see need to go back to SMB asap.



Goginho said:

Sadly, I predict future developers using shooters as their prime example.



GN0LAUM said:

I am disturbed by the parents. The mom looks way too excited (and she appears to be looking past the tv). The dad looks like he is about the throw up. I love these old Nintendo stills.



Adam said:

Mom staring joyously as her kids simultaneously control Mario and jump him backwards for no reason into a bottomless pit.



Fazermint said:

I find this statement to be quite stupid. In this day and age, Super Mario Bros. is not a good source of game design principles. Tons of younger game developers may never have touched the game, but can still be good designers because they have more up-to-date references such as Super Mario Galaxy and what not.
It just sounds like the guy didn't really think before speaking.



Ryno said:

Wish I had a time machine to go back to the period of time in that picture.



ultrakatie64 said:

If you want to learn how to do something, then you've got to learn from and respect the masters. Inafune being one of those masters, by the way.



ChessboardMan said:

@Fazermint : Only what he says, and the way the article is written, seems to suggest that when he says Mario, he means the entire series. For example, he singles out SMB3 as being a fantastic game.



VoiceOfReason said:

My first Mario game, and game in general, was Super Mario World. 100%'d it when I was 5 years old. It's still my favorite Mario game, and one of my favorite games ever. Just so many great levels and generally a great feeling I get when playing that game make it (to me) the best Mario game. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who thinks that.



HyperSonicEXE said:

I can certainly see it as "required playing" for any game designer to-be.
SMB1, SMB3, SMW, SM64, SMG1 would all be part of a curriculum.



sleepinglion said:

What's really amazing about that pic is that the POWER button hasn't been pressed in, the game hasn't even been inserted, Mario seems to be jumping left to commit suicide (which the family seems VERY happy about) and both boys are playing a 1-player round.



WiiLovePeace said:

Agreed. The Mario games are amazingly amazing Just crazily large amounts of fun, which is why I play games in the first place, to have major fun



JebbyDeringer said:

You would be surprised how many young kids are still exposed to Super Mario Bros. And many of them like it (though find it very hard). I talked with some 13-14 year old kids who all had played the game before.

I agree that it is a benchmark (all of them) in game design. The controls are always tight, if any mistakes are made and you end up dying it is always the gamers fault, the games have so few flaws you can never blame the game for your bad playing. There are things I don't like about some of them (Galaxy 2 has way too much talking, it's too generous on 1-ups and such) but game play is still extremely tight and varied.

Even those so called "adult" games, you know the ones labelled 18+ but targeting 14 year olds with their use of women as sex objects, gore for no reason, and swearing every third word can learn a lot from a Mario game. Even in that type of game controls and game play should be tight.



ikki5 said:

LOL, this image is beast. Both kids are playing at the same time when the game is two player but alternating. Even more so the game is not even in the system but sitting beside.



Gridatttack said:

Agreed. SMB3 has the best level design.
When I make levels for NSMB, I always take a look back at SMB3, because it has awesome, simple levels.



ModernMARVEL said:

If this was a Nintendo representative, it would've sounded utterly cocky. Since it's Inafune, that's a wonderfuk compliment to Mr. Miyamoto!



Capt_N said:

Nintendo 80's advertising for the win!(It's just so bad, exactly like the power glove, only in a good way! ) Also, it is a nice remark. & SMB3 is my, not only fav Mario title(of both the SMB series, & greater overall Mario franchise as a whole), but also my favorite game of all time! It's still my #1 game today.



Henmii said:

"If any creator has not played Mario, then they’re probably not a good creator"

That would have been true in the 80's and 90's, but I guess there are nowadays also a lot of good developers that take other games as a reference!



TheRealThanos said:

@Fazermint I think you unintentionally made the mistake of looking at this as a gamer or a member of the general public, which we basically all are. Inafune was talking from a developer's point of view, obviously, so in my humble opinion his explanation should be viewed from a gameplay mechanics perspective and then it makes perfect sense. I think we can trust Inafune to be able to know what he's talking about as long as it is related to the business that he himself is in an has experience in. It would be similar to us saying that a Hitchcock movie (or any other genre movie in b/w) can't be used as a template for modern day thrillers because the movie industry has progressed so far that these old movies seem silly/simple/mediocre etc. by today's standards for story, special effects and camera work. This, as we all know (or at least the ones of us that are old enough) is absolutely NOT the case, because it's all about the foundations of the story/plot and the way the actors handle it, which makes for great classics, and the same can be said for games. In any story, movie or game related there are still standard templates and mechanics and they hold up to this day, so it's perfectly fine to use them as an example. Hope that makes more sense to you... (then again, it's only my point of view and opinion, so it's okay to disagree)



unrandomsam said:

@JebbyDeringer You only get those tight controls at 60fps (And Nintendo themselves have messed that up by not giving enough power for 3D and 60fps very easily - They could have done what Dead or Alive Dimensions did and given the choice either 3D or 60fps but they choose not to for whatever reason). If the framerate ever drops it kills it.

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