Two interviews - one with Shigeru Miyamoto and the other with Yoshio Sakamoto - have been translated into English already, but a third remains in Japanese at the time of writing. The industrious folks over at Nintendo Everything simply couldn't wait and have translated the piece, which focuses on the Super Mario Bros. series.
One of the more interesting sections of the interview relates to the development of Super Mario Bros. 3, arguably one of the best NES games ever made. Interestingly, director and designer Takashi Tezuka reveals that when the project started, he had his heart set on adopting an overhead perspective:
What sorts of things did you have trouble getting right?
Tezuka: When we first began development, we wanted the game to have an overhead perspective, rather than a horizontal one.
So instead of having a horizontal view of the game like in Super Mario Bros, you wanted something like an isometric view.
Tezuka: That's right. But, we just couldn't make it work.
Miyamoto: He said "I want the game to be viewed from a little bit above." But having a clear indication of where you're going to land after jumping was a key part of the original Super Mario. Viewing everything from above made it very difficult to tell how far you were from the ground, so I told Mr. Tezuka "This will take forever."
Tezuka: …He did (dry laugh). In fact, there are still remnants of the top-down view in the final game, from before we switched to the horizontal view…
Miyamoto: Yes, there are.
For example, things like the black and white checkered floor?
Tezuka: That's right.
With the benefit of hindsight it's easy to scoff at the idea of playing Mario from a bird's eye view, but the fact that it was seriously considered just goes to show how Nintendo's designers are constantly looking for new ways to innovate and entertain. Ironically, Sega would use an isometric viewpoint for the Traveller's Tales-developed Sonic 3D on the Mega Drive.
Let us know what you think of this news by posting a comment, and don't forget to check out Alex's hands-on impressions of the NES Classic Mini.
(if you're wondering where that amazing image at the top of the page comes from, wonder no more.)