Retro Gamer has conducted a huge interview with the producers behind Super Mario Kart, Shigeru Miyamoto and Directors Hideki Konno and Tadashi Sugiyama. The interview examines the untold story of the popular franchise and contains plenty of tidbits that you may not know including the fact that the game was originally an F-Zero title.
“Our original plan didn’t include Mario or karts. The game’s roots lie in one of the launch titles for the Super Famicom: F-Zero. The game was designed for single-player gameplay because of our focus on getting across the sense of speed and the size of the courses.
It was a prototype for a multiplayer version of F-Zero that ended up being the starting point for Super Mario Kart, and from there we went through a period of trial and error to find what worked.
You could say that Mario was added to the racing game as a result of this trial and error. F-Zero displays the layer for the course over an area of 100 screens in order to create a feeling of speed and scale. However, because of hardware limitations, splitting the screen for multiplayer required the courses to be displayed within an area no more than four TV screens wide by four screens high.
We tried creating an F-Zero-style circuit within that limitation, but found it too difficult to race in with an F1-type vehicle, making it impossible to create a course that could give you a feeling of speed.
In a last-ditch attempt, we came up with what we felt was our only choice: kart racing. Karts were a great fit for these compact courses.However with the drivers wearing helmets and racing suits, they all looked the same from behind and lacked individuality. It’s hard to tell who is who, so we ran into another problem there.
We thought about what kind of character would be instantly recognisable when seen from behind, and decided to try Mario. Mario certainly is a recognisable character, even from behind, and it was instantly clear that it’s him.
For the other racers, we chose more characters from the Mario franchise who would also be clearly recognised from behind. This was the first step in the creation of Super Mario Kart. Without this hardware limitation we might have ended up with a different racing game.”