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The Making of the Game - Super Mario Sunshine

Sunday, May 1, 2005

The Making of The Game
Super Mario Sunshine

This series of articles will take a look at the development of Nintendo-published software. These Q&A sessions conducted by Nintendo Online Magazine, and transcribed to English exclusively by N-Sider staff member Anthony JC, come directly from the developers so as to give you a first-hand look at the amount of sweat and blood that goes into Nintendo's most celebrated releases.

August 2002

Takashi Tezuka
Producer
Nintendo Co., Ltd. Entertainment Analysis & Development

Yoshiaki Koizumi
Director
Nintendo Co., Ltd. Entertainment Analysis & Development

Kenta Usui
Director
Nintendo Co., Ltd. Entertainment Analysis & Development


Q: Did Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto decide the title Super Mario Sunshine?

Kenta Usui: You could say that. Ultimately, Koizumi decided on it though.

Yoshiaki Koizumi: We worked together on that one.

Q: When did the development of Super Mario Sunshine commence?

Takashi Tezuka: We were working on a concept of gameplay using a water pump. After some trial-and-error we decided to apply it to the Mario franchise.

Q: If it is trial and error...

Koizumi: It was thought that the world was daringly out of character with Mario. Therefore, I thought that a man type character would be used at first. But if there is a man next to Mario, there is a sense of incongruity. Then, we sort of unified the character we thought finally suited the view of the world. However, regarding the man type character we partly made, since the island's Monte fellows and Mare fellows were wacky cartoony residents, they did not have sense of incongruity. Also, the script writer of Animal Crossing helped sequence the resident's words.

Q: How was the idea of playing with water conceived?

Koizumi: For the first time, the hardware allowed for ideas such as this. I regarded the GameCube controller as an excellent vehicle to conduct this mechanic. We quickly thought up of many ideas like washing paint off, and hovering around with it.

Tezuka: The concept was to take everything good from Mario 64, and add this idea to it.

Q: The fact that you can temporarily fly in the sky with the nozzle radically opens up a lot of new gameplay mechanics.

Usui: There were about ten candidates for the type of nozzle which we should use. The FLUDD was actually not one of the favorites, but seemed to work best in a gameplay setting.

Tezuka: The direction of the game would have been too complicated and risky with some of the nozzles we were contemplating.

Usui: There are plenty of shortcuts that can be accessed with the FLUDD. Back to the nozzle point, if this game was not 90% dedicated to the nozzle peripheral, then some of the more complicated nozzles would have been used.

Tezuka: Better gameplay was important. Priority was given to it.

Koizumi: The game is not linear at all.

Tezuka: With the move from 2D to 3D, it is important that we allow for such freedoms.

Q: The scope seems immense thanks to the new overworld.

Tezuka: Yes because it is large.

Usui: The area is about 4 times greater than that of Super Mario 64.

Q: Does the story production also not differ from previous Marios?

Tezuka: We didn't want to follow any previous molds in our game development. Koizumi was making the complete view of a dollar pick island from clay. The fine row of houses coupled together was also decided from the beginning. Since I never came up with that I idea, I was very romanticized by it.

Koizumi: Since it was a resort, there was a theme of making scenery quite strongly from the beginning. Furthermore, we wanted to make it more real than Super Mario 64. I thought that it would be an interesting feeling to see Mario jumping down from the height of a three story building as opposed to seeing him jump over the traditional Mario environments.

Q: How were the stages developed?

Usui: We used a certain amount of themes, such as a cottage ground of a plateau and a port town. We once again did not go with the fantasy based traditional designs.

Q: Is there any portion which is greatly different from Super Mario 64?

Usui: Well we used certain ideas that would make Mario mario, and we paid hommage to the painting theme of Super Mario 64 (also in Luigi's Mansion). We had the power to do more than merely jump into a level by entering a room with a painting.

Tezuka: There weren't as many restrictions this time. The designers really were free to present their ideas.

Usui: About the art style, there was a lot of discussion amongst the designers. We brought and studied many photographs of resorts and islands. There was some staff who visited a resort in the Southeast of Asia (smile).

Koizumi: There was a lot of young staff in this development team.

Q: The roller coaster battle was amazing?

Usui: This was one idea that really needed to show that we were steps ahead of the initial revolutionary camera system introduced in Super Mario 64.

Koizumi: There are about 4 times more camera options in this game over Super Mario 64.

Q: Doesn't this Mario have a Zelda type of atmosphere? Especially the boss battles.

Tezuka: Yes but Mario had the elements of boss battles first. When we developed Zelda and Mario on the Super Famicom, the projects truly became independent of each other in regards to staff.

Koizumi: I've actually worked on both and used some preliminary ideas of Majora's Mask that have evolved in to Super Mario Sunshine ideas.

Q: What features didn't make the cut?

Usui: Well of course several nozzles we had on the cutting room. Some preliminary gun type water nozzles could not be used because of all the controversy in the United States. While we put in Yoshi, there were several things we omitted. Some aspects revolving around a Yoshi vomitting water fed to him.

Q: Was the control constantly adjusted?

Usui: Of course. Miyamoto made sure of that. Koizumi started focusing on that just so he wouldn't have to hear it from the boss.

Q: How was the button allotment useful to this game?

Tezuka: Very good. It was designed to evolve and incorporate some of the ideas we wanted to implement in 3D games. You know such things just wouldn't be possible on the Family Computer controller.

Q: There are some nice cinemas in this game.

Koizumi: Yes it allowed to express some story and atmosphere sequences that we didn't get a chance to exploit on previous consoles.

Q: How much pressure was involved in developing a Mario title?

Koizumi: I think we (Koizumi and Usui) split the pressure about half and half. We both worked on Mario titles before, but of course we were now in charge of developing this staple title. I think it was all about letting some new ideas breathe with the franchise.

Q: Any final words from the development staff?

Koizumi: It was several months in this title and we did not know it would be a Mario game at all. It took the company about three months to realize it wanted a Mario game like this. I think this game is exactly what the Mario franchise needed. Enjoy this game like you would enjoy a resort (smiles).

Usui: Please play this game to the ending. The motives behind Mario's disappearance is very interesting. It is the first time a Mario ending may bring you to tears !!

Tezuka: I am excited about what this game will mean in the Mario timeline. I am delighted these two men have given Mario a new blood that I as a creator of the past games would enjoy. Please play and enjoy the game to its full extent.


Source: Nintendo Online Magazine # 49
Transcribed by: Anthony JC