Super Mario Odyssey must surely rank as one of the most anticipated video games of 2017, and like Super Mario World, Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy before it, looks set to offer some compelling new gameplay ideas - including New Donk City, a realistic, city-like environment with human characters which dwarf the famous plumber in stature.
Speaking to IGN, Shigeru Miyamoto admitted that he was initially nervous about how players would react to this setup:
I was worried about how players would react to being in a world where Mario is this tall and normal people are a little bit taller. Or the fact that people don’t get mad at Mario when he’s jumping up and down all over the place. But with all that said, I think I realized that the character Pauline has already existed, and the idea of this game taking place in the city worked out really well. And so we ran with it.
Miyamoto feels that getting Mario to star in new games and learn new tricks is part of the appeal:
Fundamentally, I think that it’s ideal if we can get old characters to do new things. When there is a new game mechanic introduced and there’s a new character that really, really fits well, I think it’s great. But I do have a little bit of hesitancy and resistance when someone’s trying to overbearingly bring their thoughts in, and trying to create new characters over and over again.
As a child I wanted to be a manga artist, and as a manga artist usually you have this symbolic character that’s yours. And you try to use that character in many different stories and episodes that you create, almost like how Hitchcock is in every one of his movies. For me, Mario is that, and I want to create as many different games as possible using Mario. And I still think there’s a lot of potential and possibility left.
I don’t really feel like I want to remake any of them. It’s more natural to always create new mechanics and new games.
The legendary designer also explains how he develops various gameplay features in his titles:
I really start with the game mechanic, and then trying to make sure that the character that gets put into the game fits that mechanic. If you divide things into large categories, you could go the Mario route or the Zelda route. And then, for example, with a game like Luigi’s Mansion, I really thought that Luigi was the perfect fit for that game, and that’s how it manifested. And for characters like Pikmin, for the mechanic that current Pikmin games have, they were perfect.
Interestingly, Miyamoto also states that he's resistive to the idea of physical gaming inputs giving way to more advanced tech, such as eye-tracking - which is currently being worked on in the field of VR - and even "mind control":
I wouldn’t want to see the world go in the direction where all you need to do is think to make things move, or all you need to do is control things with eye movement.
I really think that movement is fun, and in that sense there’s a lot more evolution that something like movement can have within a game. For example, even with the gyro sensor that we have now, you need to calibrate it to have it work. Maybe in the future, it will somehow read the magnetic poles or axis of the Earth so you don’t need to calibrate it, or will use almost no electricity whatsoever. It would be great to see things happen in that aspect.
The full interview is well worth a look, and after you've had a read, why not leave a comment to tell us how ridiculously excited you are for Super Mario Odyssey?