IGN has been lucky enough to chat with a number of prominent Nintendo developers to share their favourite Mario moments. Yes, there’s the likes of Shigeru Miyamoto, Katsuya Eguchi, and Kensuke Tanabe. It’s a lengthy post, but well worth a read to find out which Mario game touched them the most. What’s your favourite Mario game or moment? Read on to find out the developers.
“Of course, I’ve had many memories with Mario over the last 30 years, but the one that sticks out for me most was when we made Super Mario 64. I felt very fortunate to be able to work in a 3D space for the first time, take on this new technology, and have Mario be the character that helped bring it to life. And that we did that by working with 3D technology at a time when there weren’t many people doing it. So that was a very important moment with Mario for me.
“The other memory links back to my childhood. When I was younger I used to always like to make puppets and do puppet shows. When we made Super Mario 64, it was like I was able to do a puppet show with Mario in a 3D space. It’s been very fun for me to have these moments where the things that I’ve enjoyed from my youth have blended in with the work that I do in video games.”
– Shigeru Miyamoto, Senior Managing Director and General Manager of EAD Division at Nintendo
“So, actually, I had never played Super Mario Bros. before working at Nintendo. When I joined Nintendo, Super Mario Bros. was already out. When I did have a chance to play it, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. This is really cool. This is really fun.’ I worked on level design for Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros. 3.
“One of my fondest memories is when I was working on Super Mario World, I was engaged to be married. I had all of these wedding preparations to help with while I was doing the course design for Super Mario World. It was just a really busy time. But I remember finishing the game, and it being ready for sale, and then I got married. That period of my life is a wonderful memory.”
– Katsuya Eguchi, Manager at Nintendo EAD
“I actually was the director on Super Mario Bros. 2, but I did level design for Super Mario 3. It was extremely hard, because up until the deadline for the game, I had absolutely no time to sleep to finish the level designs.
“The dev tools at the time were not anywhere close to the level of what we have now. You may have seen this during the Nintendo digital event, but we were making all of those levels with paper, right?
‘So, you’d take one of those papers after you finished writing it, and hand it over to an engineer, and the engineer would have to do all the inputs by hand. Then, that’s when you get to sleep. [Laughs] Then, the engineer wakes you up by saying “It’s done!” And then you get up and check to make sure that everything’s OK. And then the engineer sleeps while you’re doing that. [Laughs]
“And then it’s just a repeat of that, with the engineer sleeping while you’re working. Then, after three days of doing that, you really don’t understand when day is, and when is night.”
-Kensuke Tanabe, Producer at Nintendo SPD
“I was the director of Super Mario 3 [but before that] I was also the director of Super Mario 2 for Japan, but that was really just taking the courses from the first Super Mario Bros. and revising them. So, it wasn’t that big of a creative role for me. I think my first role as the creative director of a Mario game was with Super Mario 3, and so because it was my first time, there were just so many different things I wanted to try. But as I thought about all these things I wanted to try, the scale and my hopes and everything became so big that it became really something that we really couldn’t narrow down and focus. It just became this big monstrosity. And then of course that increased the development time. At the time, I was also still working as an artist, so I was actually still creating artwork for the project as well. It was this project that sort of grew out of control and became this big thing, but I was able to get all of these different people to lend a hand and pitch in and help me finalize all these dreams I had when I became the director. The end result was Super Mario 3. That’s my favorite Mario memory.
“I think if I was given the same project today, I could do a better job at it, but I have to say, that project taught me so much and I learned so many valuable lessons that I’m just very happy I was able to go through that.
“Within the company, within Nintendo, the number of people actually involved with or work on Super Mario is actually not as big as most people think. I think all of those folks who weren’t involved in the Mario franchise, they thought there was all this top secret knowledge and know-how involved in making these titles. And it’s like, no no no, anybody can do this.
“And actually, as a result of that, we opened up basically a ‘Super Mario Level Design School’ within Nintendo, and I was the principal. We had these classes, these workshops, where we would have about 10 people from other development groups within EAD, and we would teach them the level design process that we used. We did that for about three months. But of course, you can study something forever, but until you actually do something with that knowledge you won’t have that sense of success or achievement. So what we did then was select some people from these workshops and those are the people that we put together to be the team that created New Super Mario Bros 2 for the Nintendo 3DS. I was able to meet and interact with folks from different departments, different groups, and develop these relationships. I’m working with some of those people on different projects now. That’s something that was really very interesting and rewarding for me and I’m sort of calling it the ‘Mario Fulcrum.’ That’s the thing that we’re all revolving around, is Mario. I think that my area of movement and influence has increased as a result of that. That’s the story. That’s a good Mario memory. To just be able to meet different people within the company and create these relationships and help them grow as well.”
– Takashi Tezuka, Producer of Super Mario Maker
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