clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Super Mario 3D Land director on the drama going on behind the pipes

New, 4 comments

The scariest moment in making a Mario game...

Super Mario 3D Land
Super Mario 3D Land

Koichi Hayashida was the director of Super Mario 3D Land, the highest-rated original 3DS game (according to Metacritic, only Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is higher, but that was a port). There's no doubt of Mario's success on the platform, with the game selling more than 5 million copies as of January. But, in an interview with Vox games, Hayashida admitted that he was terrified any time he had to meet with the original Mario creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, during development.

"The scariest moment for me would be whenever I have to show something to Mr. Miyamoto."

Koichi Hayashida was the director of Super Mario 3D Land, the highest-rated original 3DS game (according to Metacritic, only Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is higher). There's no doubt of Mario's success on the platform, with the game selling more than 5 million copies as of January. But, in an interview with Vox Games, Hayashida admitted that he was terrified any time he had to meet with the original Mario creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, during development.

"Of course I have to say that I'm very happy that I'm receiving attention from him on my project and getting some comments," Hayashida said, "because any time he gives us some advice, that represents a really good opportunity to improve the game. But I would be lying if I didn't say it was scary."

Hayashida remembered that Miyamoto's involvement started with a simple concept: "What started us off in the very beginning was a challenge we received from Mr. Miyamoto, who mentioned that it's much easier to see the position of the block floating in space with a stereoscopic view, and that this could be used to make the entire game experience more enjoyable and comfortable. He wanted to see what we could do to develop that concept."

After that, Miyamoto would occasionally drop in and offer wisdom. For example, it was Miyamoto who thought the Tanooki suit should make a return, even though Hayashida had other ideas. "We even discussed using Cape Mario to use that [slow fall] mechanic, but Mr. Miyamoto came out on the side of the Tanooki. As it turns out, I originally favored the cape."

"We even discussed using Cape Mario to use that [slow fall] mechanic, but Mr. Miyamoto came out on the side of the Tanooki. As it turns out, I originally favored the cape."

Many of the decisions, though, were made without Miyamoto's direct guidance. For example, Hayashida explained why there were only two playable characters in Super Mario 3D Land: Mario and Luigi.

"If you're looking at a situation where you have a character select screen where you choose from Mario, Luigi, Toad and Princess, that would be a slightly different gameplay experience and a slightly different set of circumstances would have demanded it. Luigi is the easiest for us to include because the animation around his joints is very similar to Mario. So you're not doubling up on development time there.

"The functional reason for including Luigi is because he's more suitable for advanced players. He introduces a little bit of challenge because he has a floatier, higher jump and he's a little bit harder to land on a dime. Whereas if you have a character like Peach, the way she floats about in the game with that jump delay, is more suited for beginning players. So that was the kind of thing we would have introduced if we didn't already have a mechanic that was addressing the needs of beginning players."

Hayashida also revealed the level design process for Mario titles, which is extremely focused on play-testing. "A lot of the early design stages are going to be playtested by all of the people on the team," he said. "If they include some older elements from games people might have seen before, they might receive a low response from people who are play-testing it, saying 'Oh, this doesn't feel quite so fresh.' So I think that drives us to find the fun in new structures and experiences in level design."