It's a-me, Mario!

Nintendo recently launched Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition and Puzzle & Dragons Z on the Nintendo 3DS, a double-pack which not only contains one of the most popular puzzle RPGs of recent memory but also showcases a unique Nintendo take on the formula, complete with characters from the Mushroom Kingdom. We had the chance to speak with the game's producer Daisuke Yamamoto about the game, and he himself admitted that he was somewhat star-struck to be working with a living legend like Shigeru Miyamoto.

"We paid attention on making it as Mario-like as possible, since we have great respect for the world of Mario," Yamamoto said. "Otherwise we had great deal of freedom in developing the gameplay. We were lucky enough to have a dialogue with Mr. Miyamoto where we got to exchange opinions; that was a ton of fun! Imagine, being able to make a game with such a world-renowned designer!"

Puzzle & Dragons as a brand should need little introduction. Originally published on smartphones, the game has since become one of Japan's biggest hits. Its allure comes from mixing a simple puzzle concept with a surprisingly robust RPG backbone. "Puzzle & Dragons a match-three puzzle game featuring simple controls, but it also allows you to experience genre elements from adventures, puzzles, monster-raising titles, and RPGs," explains Yamamoto. In the case of the 3DS version, GungHo's objective was to reach those players who don't have access to a smartphone - and to make the game as addictive as possible. "The thing we thought about the most was how satisfying we could make the game," Yamamoto continues. "We created the Nintendo 3DS version because we wanted kids who don't have smartphones and people who usually play on game systems to enjoy Puzzle & Dragons. With the dual screens, we were able to feature vibrant animation on all of the monsters."

The process was clearly successful; Puzzle & Dragons Z launched as a stand-alone title in Japan some time ago, where it became a commercial smash-hit. This success surely played a part in Nintendo collaborating with GungHo on the Super Mario Bros. Edition. Despite the fact that both games sit in a single package, Yamamoto asserts that they offer two very different gameplay experiences. "For Puzzle & Dragons Z the focus is on RPG elements - the fun of raising characters - while the Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Edition edition is more about the puzzle-game elements," says Yamamoto. The two games could easily have been released separately in the west, but GungHo wanted them to make a big impact by offering amazing value for money. "We wanted as many people around the world as possible to play this title," Yamamoto states.

We're seeing more and more mobile hits crossing over to traditional consoles - something which dedicated gamers might turn their noses up at. However, when the process is handled as carefully and intelligently as it has been with Puzzle & Dragons, it's something to be grateful for - and the fact that Nintendo has sat up and taken notice bodes well for future projects of a similar ilk.

Thanks to Daisuke Yamamoto for taking the time to speak with us. Puzzle & Dragons Z / Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition is out now in North America and Europe. You can read our review here.