Miyamoto was worried about regular humans in Super Mario Odyssey

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There’s something improbably enduring about Mario. The portly plumber has existed in some form or another since 1981 – and to my mind, there hasn’t been a main entry in the franchise that’s been terrible. Yes, there have been side games featuring the moustachioed man of the Mushroom Kingdom that have had varying levels of quality, but the headline games have all been great fun. A lot of that comes from how much freedom the teams that make them get from series head Shigeru Miyamoto. Within reason, of course.

“‘You can do whatever you want up to this line, but don’t go past this point,” Miyamoto tells people working on Mario, in a new IGN interview. “That’s what I don’t want to change.'”

“When it’s internal teams, they really understand it, although they try to push that line a little bit further. But when it’s an external partner, I make sure that line is very clear,” he explains. “I have times where I’m actually strangely open and it’s the team that’s worrying too much. But then other times, I’m really strict in certain other points.”

One of those points, and something that had Miyamoto questioning Super Mario Odyssey’s very existence? The more human-like people in New Donk City – a fictional Mario take on New York. He’s not wrong – because it’s initially jarring.

“I was worried about how players would react to being in a world where Mario is this tall and normal people are a little bit taller. Or the fact that people don’t get mad at Mario when he’s jumping up and down all over the place,” Miyamoto said. “But with all that said, I think I realized that the character Pauline has already existed, and the idea of this game taking place in the city worked out really well. And so we ran with it.”

And that’s a fundamental part of what’s made Mario this enduring. Where Sonic introduced an increasingly large cast of odd and pointless characters, Mario games have focused more on putting the same ones in new situations.

“Fundamentally, I think that it’s ideal if we can get old characters to do new things,” he says. “When there is a new game mechanic introduced and there’s a new character that really, really fits well, I think it’s great. But I do have a little bit of hesitancy and resistance when someone’s trying to overbearingly bring their thoughts in, and trying to create new characters over and over again.”
Super Mario Odyssey is out on the Switch on October 27, 2017.

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Last Updated: June 28, 2017

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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