Posted By: wraggster
Format: Wii U Publisher/developer: Nintendo (EAD Tokyo) Origin: Japan Release: 2013
No tea tables were upended – as a Nintendo euphemism for radical changes towards the end of a game’s development goes – during the making of Super Mario 3D World. Since 2005’s Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, Nintendo EAD Tokyo has blossomed into one of the publisher’s finest assets, and it says much for the regard with which the group is held that Shigeru Miyamoto and fellow Nintendo veteran Takashi Tezuka felt comfortable taking a back seat, their responsibilities limited to “occasional spot checks”. The two designers of the original Super Mario Bros could rest easy: their most famous creation was in safe hands.The mandate presented to Nintendo’s elite development team was clear. Its aim, according to Miyamoto, was “to make a 3D home console Super Mario game that people who like the New Super Mario games can also enjoy”. In other words, to forge a stronger link between Mario’s two-dimensional obstacle courses and his more expansive 3D adventures. And not only in design terms, you suspect, but also to bridge the sales gap between the two.Plans were set in motion after Super Mario Galaxy 2 was completed. “We decided we should make an entirely new title, rather than another in the Galaxy series,” co-director Koichi Hayashida says. “Up until that point, we had only been working on games for the home console, so you might expect that we’d go on to develop a game for Wii U. In fact, we got really interested in creating a 3D Mario game that could be played with the 3D effect of 3DS. That’s why we chose to develop for the handheld system instead. Saying that, though, at that same point we also planned on making a version for Wii U. So, in that sense, you could say the game was in development for over three years.”All of the concept artwork you see in this feature is exclusive to Edge.
Hayashida admits that Nintendo may have had to reconsider its approach had Super Mario 3D Land been a failure. But the critical and commercial success of Mario’s 3DS debut encouraged the company to stay its course. With the help of Nintendo subsidiary 1-Up Studio (formerly known as Brownie Brown, which worked on the likes of Mother 3 and Heroes Of Mana), the largest development team in EAD Tokyo’s history began work on its Wii U spiritual sequel. And with the core concept established at a very early stage, there was plenty of time for experimentation.Indeed, the finished product bears the hallmarks of an eclectic approach to game design, one actively encouraged by the policies of co-director and team leader Kenta Motokura. Over 100 staff members were asked to come up with ideas, from throwaway gimmicks to entire level concepts, which were then displayed across dozens of Post-it notes stuck to the studio’s walls. So perhaps it’s little wonder 3D World sometimes feels generous to a fault, introducing ideas before throwing them away minutes later.“We discussed and discarded a huge number of ideas during development,” Motokura says. “Sometimes you just can’t tell if an idea is good or bad by looking at it on the drawing board; when this happens, we try it out in-game. If we don’t find the idea fun, it won’t make it into the final product. There was a lot of back and forth on the course designs due to this.”