Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island was definitely something of a gamble for Nintendo when it launched back in the days of the SNES. The Super Mario series was only four (technically five) games long, and instead of making a safe sequel to the popular Super Mario World, a game was made starring his dinosaur companion, Yoshi. Fortunately, Yoshi's Island turned out to be a fantastic success, later going on to spawn its own spinoff series of platformers.
Interestingly enough, an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto from way back in 1995 was recently translated, and he gives many insights into the development of the then upcoming release of Yoshi's Island. Apparently, Miyamoto initially wanted Baby Mario to turn into a fully grown Mario upon picking up a star; this was later shot down by another staff member, which resulted in the Super Baby Mario power-up that made the final cut:
Yes, and that's why we added the ability to transform into Super Baby Mario when you pick up a star. In fact, our first idea was that the baby would transform into fully-grown, bearded Mario when you got the star, but another staff member pointed out how that would be weird with the story, so we kept him as Super Baby Mario. Personally, I still think the idea of adult Mario running around is better. (laughs)
Another interesting topic covered was how the final product was essentially everything that the team originally envisioned from the beginning. It's typical for developers to mention how ideas and gameplay mechanics got cut from a game due to hardware restrictions, time constraints, etc., but Miyamoto mentioned that this wasn't really the case with Yoshi's Island:
It was surprising, but once the development was really underway, there were very few ideas that we had to jettison. We knew this would be the last Mario game we made for the Super Famicom, so we wanted to go out with a bang and include all we could.
If it was a simpler game, one that you just beat once and are done, then you could probably get rid off half of these mechanics, but we designed Yoshi's Island so players would be able to replay the stages many times. That ended up giving us a lot of leeway for all the things we wanted to include.
For the full interview, check it out here; it's mostly focused on Yoshi's Island, but there's some interesting discussion over a certain "64-bit machine".
What do you think? Did you appreciate Yoshi's Island for what it was? What would you like to see out of another game in the sub-series? Share your thoughts in the comments below.