The Super Mario 3D World Team Discusses Cat and Clone Origins, Multiplayer Dynamics and Its Name
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
"The team had a strong desire from the very start to call it "3D World"
Earlier today we posted a summary of some key points from a recently published Super Mario 3D World Iwata Asks, in which the team discussed camera angles, Rosalina and the desire to feature a large amount of content. The discussion took in plenty of other topics, naturally, as Satoru Iwata, Shigeru Miyamoto, producer Yoshiaki Koizumi, and co-directors Joichi Hayashida and Kenta Motokura chatted over various elements of the game and its development.
One topic that arose was the name itself — as a continuation of the sub-series that began with Super Mario 3D Land, some have pointed out that having '3D' in the title is perhaps superfluous due to the absence of the portable's autostereoscopic screen. Despite this, the team always maintained that should be the name, especially as it has a goal of providing a bridging point between 2D and 3D Mario experiences.
Miyamoto: Yeah. But the team had a strong desire from the very start to call it "3D World."
Miyamoto: In the session of "Iwata Asks" about Super Mario 3D Land, Hayashida-san explained the concept of that game by talking about the missing link between 2D Mario and 3D Mario. Super Mario 3D Land was a 3D Super Mario game with the strengths of 2D Super Mario, which anyone can play. This time, we aimed for accompanying that on a home console, so when I thought about the history of Super Mario, I realized that the name "Land" was for handhelds and "World" for home consoles.
Iwata: I see.
Miyamoto: Some opinions against it arose along the way, and there was a time when it looked like it wouldn't fly, but it's a name with a lot of thought behind it that suggests anyone can feel easy playing the game and that it's a culmination of all the fun of a 3D Super Mario game, so the name had to be Super Mario 3D World, and in the end that's what it is.
Motokura: The name "World" is one I became familiar with in my days gaming before becoming a developer, so when we decided on that, I was deeply moved, as well as a little nervous.
Miyamoto: Like getting jersey number 3 on the Giants? (Number 3 is the retired number of Shigeo Nagashima, a professional baseball player who played for the Yomiuri Giants.)
Motokura: Exactly! (laughs)
In terms of the multiplayer experience, such a key part of the title, it was explained that the very first Mario Bros. does, in its way, highlight the same blend of co-operation and competition that 3D World strives for.
Motokura: Well, Mario Bros. is without a doubt the origin of multiplayer Super Mario.
Iwata: Indeed. Cooperation and mutual interference mix within the same stage. That is the model for all kinds of multiplayer gameplay.
Motokura: Super Mario 3D World's multiplayer mode has gameplay somewhat similar to that. When you clear a course, the player who came in first receives a crown. A player who reaches the goal on the next course while wearing the crown gets a bonus.
Iwata: So, a battle breaks out over that crown.
Motokura: That's right. You can do a Ground Pound and nab it, or get in each other's way. But when the number of remaining players drops, all of a sudden you start cooperating! (laughs)
Iwata: The interplay between interference and cooperation changes along with each player's intentions and situations.
Motokura: Yeah. When we were testing multiplayer gameplay, I couldn't help but say, "Hayashida-san! This is like Mario Bros.!" And it literally is!
Some interesting insight was also given into the conceptual creation of the Cat suit and the Double cherry. Apparently indicative of the Tokyo-based EAD team's approach, the concepts were created or inadvertently discovered first, before the presentation was added later on. That meant that, respectively, each ability either looked disturbing or was an accident, as explained below.
Motokura: This time, we prioritized on that great feeling you get when you run and jump. In that process we came up with two separate ideas - running on all fours, and climbing up a wall. Both were actions that Mario usually doesn't have, and those ideas triggered our decision.
Iwata: So you took two ideas that were originally separate and combined them into one. And you thought a cat would fit that concept perfectly?
Motokura: That's right.
Iwata: Oh... That's putting function first! Right, I'd forgotten. You're that kind of team. The outward form of a cat came later, after the function had been set.
Koizumi: I had them show it to me before we had settled on a cat. In the testing phase, the characters were simply running around on all fours with their regular appearance. I became really worried when I saw that. I couldn't keep my eyes on Princess Peach! (laughs)
Iwata: She was crawling around in her normal dress?
Miyamoto: She was moving so quickly!
Koizumi: It was like a scene from a horror movie. But when we decided on a cat, various pieces snapped into place.
...Iwata: And while it isn't exactly a transformation, Double Mario is an idea that seems like it would have come along before.
Miyamoto: Before we made that, we had always had the idea of one player moving multiple Marios, but we never tried it out because we thought it would be too taxing, control-wise, to move multiple characters all at once with one stick.
Iwata: That's right. The first time I saw it, I thought, "What? Can you control that yourself?"
Miyamoto: You control multiple characters, but they move in unison, so it's like there's one more stuck to you-like in an old shooting game.
Iwata: One spaceship would become two and you'd think, "I'm so tough!"
Miyamoto: Surprisingly, that works in 3D too, and it's easy to get a sense of the controls. The results of moving Double Mario are complex, but the player's actual actions are simple, so using it is intuitive.
Iwata: Did Double Mario also come from that deluge of ideas you got?
Motokura: Well actually...we discovered that when a staff member made a mistake with the placement tool and put in two player Marios.
Iwata: Huh? It was a mistake, but it worked?
Motokura: Yeah. When we saw that, we thought it was great! So we went ahead and put that in the game.
Iwata: Those things do happen! (laughs) It's amazing that the tool allowed placing two and having it work!
Miyamoto: Yeah, I'm surprised it worked too!
Motokura: It was completely by chance.
Iwata: Rather than chance, it came from a developer's mistake!
Hayashida: That in itself is very like Super Mario!
Miyamoto: That's right. It's almost like a secret trick. If that person had fixed it because it was a mistake, it would never have seen the light of day!
It seems like this was another jovial Iwata Asks occasion, with plenty of (laughs) to go around. Let us know what you think of these comments and development revelations in the comments below.