Miyamoto discusses "the essence of Mario"

Plus talks of Galaxy development challenges and more...

With his latest masterpiece, Super Mario Galaxy (which we gave 9.5 in this must-read review), done and dusted, Miyamoto has taken the time out to have a very interesting chat with Nintendo boss, Satoru Iwata, about the intricacies of the game's design and, more interestingly, the fundamentals of Mario.

First up, Miyamoto talks about the two-player gameplay in SMG. "For every game I worked on, there were always times when I would keep discussing the issue of two-player simultaneous gameplay, and the staff also became conscious of the challenge, so every development team kept trying hard to solve it too," he said.

"What I originally had in mind were situations like a parent sitting by their child - for example, a mother assisting her child. I also think it would be great if the opposite happened. I had a very strong image of the mother controlling Mario, while her child assisted her saying things like 'Mum, there's an enemy over here!'"

"A parent and child helping each other while they play was something that I wanted to make reality for a long time, and with Super Mario Galaxy, I strongly feel that situations like this could really happen," adds Miyamoto.

Later, he talks about the fundamentals of Mario, and where all those crazy ideas came from. Like those Koopa's, for example: "I remembered an experience I once had when I was working on Mario Bros. (Gunpei) Yokoi-san9 asked me, 'What's something that wouldn't be able to move if I hit it from underneath?', and I replied, 'A turtle, of course'".

"From that point on, we had a continuous flow of ideas, like 'I think it would seem more natural if you're able to step on the turtle,' and 'Wouldn't it be better if it came out of the shell when you stepped on it?'"

Miyamoto continues: "In the end, you were only able to knock over the turtle from the bottom and couldn't step on them... In Mario Bros., when a turtle gets knocked over, it'll start moving again after a short period of time. The thing is it's hard to tell exactly how long it's going to take to start moving.

"You can see it twitching, but you're not able to tell after how many of those twitches it would get back on its feet. So, we decided to change this and make a rule that you could see this timing visually.

"We made it so that after you step on a turtle, it would pop right out of its shell, and the turtle would start moving again when it gets back inside the shell. The little turtle that popped out of its shell works as the timer, and we felt that this would be something that anybody would be able to see."

Fascinating stuff for Nintendo geeks (e.g. this writer, who could read about the making of Goombas and Chain Chomps all day). And there's plenty more like that, including memories from Miyamoto's long past in game development and what he hopes Mario Galaxy will achieve in the long run.

Check out the huge interview on the official Nintendo site.