Nintendo Co. Ltd. recently held a press conference in Japan where the designers of Super Mario Sunshine
including Shigeru Miyamoto, Takashi Tezuka, and Yoshiaki Koizumi, discussed the game's
development. The interview was translated
in full by Nintendo.com.
I was the producer of Super Mario Sunshine and worked closely
with Mr. Miyamoto. I worked on all the past Mario series and I
tried to advise the younger members of our staff based on these
I'm Koizumi. Since this was the first time I'd taken the
director's role in any game, I was kind of tense throughout the
development process. Even now, I still feel a bit nervous. I'm
thankful for the help I've received from so many people at
Nintendo who helped complete the game. I'm very glad that we
have created a game that I, myself, really want to play.
Thank you for coming. Mr. Tezuka, as you know, has been working
with me since we created the very first Super Mario Brothers
game. Mr. Koizumi worked on Super Mario 64, too, and he played a
major role, especially on the character of Mario. I also worked
with him on The Legend of Zelda. These guys are two important
assets for Nintendo. Of course, none of us can make games alone.
We make it a point to be involved with many projects. When
people seek my assistance, I offer it gladly.
Super Mario Sunshine
Whenever we are working on
so-called series games, I really feel it's necessary to make the
interval between a game and its sequel as short as possible, and
we have to do something to improve the situation for our fans.
Accordingly, people who used to work together on the Mario
series have been split into several teams in order to introduce
Mario series games with less lag time between them. We are
taking a similar approach to the Zelda series. However, all the
games shall be developed so that they retain the high quality
that people have come to expect from Nintendo. Although we call
some people who are involved with game development
"producer" and others "director," each
person does more than what you might expect from them, given
their job title. We want you to feel like the games themselves
are more important than who produced or directed them. Having
said that, however, if we become too secretive about who works
on games, it's not very interesting for you to report. That's
why we're holding this event where we'll accept interview
I know you've already played Super Mario Sunshine. Is there any
person who has not obtained 30 Shines yet? Oh, I'm afraid there
is one. Let's ignore him. [Laughter.]
Whenever we create a new Mario game, even though it's a sequel
in a series, we always try to offer some new challenge.
Especially when a young director is in charge of a game, we
expect something really unique. We want to incorporate
everything that the existing technology makes possible. We want
to be able to say, "We have used the full functionality of
the hardware so we can not do better on the current
console." When a new game was to be developed for Nintendo
GameCube, we approached the project with very high aspirations.
About a year ago, when we showed the first video of Mario
Sunshine, even though we offered a glimpse of something really
unique, we did not show Mario using the water sprayer. We didn't
want that idea to be stolen at such an early stage. As a result,
I'm afraid that you might not have found the video footage very
exciting when you saw it. Around that time, the basic game
system was complete and new characters were moving around in it.
Over the past year, we've changed the direction of the game so
that Super Mario Sunshine is more like Super Mario 64 -- a kind
of conservative move.
How do I want gamers to play Super Mario Sunshine? In each Mario
game, players sometimes move around without any specific
purpose, yet they may find some secret as a result. While
wandering around, players get accustomed to the gameplay so that
Mario moves just as they want him to. Then gamers feel some
attachment to the game and don't want to sell it to
used-software shops. So, the more you play, the more attachment
you feel. This is an important element we want you to advertise.
Whenever we make a Mario game, or whenever we make any game, we
want to make it so that any person can play it, regardless of
his or her age.
Technology is advancing and we have to show that we can take
advantage of innovations to demonstrate our superiority over our
competitors. For example, if we choose not to include a movie
sequence in a game, our competitors may claim that our system
cannot support this kind of feature. That sort of thing could
happen. [Laughter.] And perhaps no one would play Super Mario
Sunshine. That would be a shame. I want people who have not
played any video games for the past 10 years to try Super Mario
Sunshine -- their first gaming experience in 10 years. The video
game industry has changed a lot, and people who try a video game
for the first time in 10 years won't have a clue about what's
happened in the interim.
This is the current situation with many popular game series --
the original games were released more than 10 years ago. Super
Mario Sunshine is in this category. People who have been away
from gaming may have trouble understanding Super Mario Sunshine
the first day they play it; however, on the second day, they
will start to understand its charm. Even though you might feel
like stopping on day one, please don't. If you play Super Mario
Sunshine for three days, you'll make the reentry into video game
culture. [Laughter.] I am not saying that it's an easy game, but
that most people will understand its charm instantaneously. It's
not an easy task to make a game that seems straightforward to
casual players and, at the same time, can be appreciated by
devoted Mario fans, the kind of people who might ask, "How
many Stars do I need to collect to complete a very specific
task?" I believe that Super Mario Sunshine will appeal to
both sorts of players, to some extent.
The basic game is similar
to the N64 version [Super Mario 64]. We have intentionally made
it seem familiar and simple to play. Those who have played Super
Mario 64 can recall the experience and find new joy with Super
Mario Sunshine. Personally, I am not an expert at making
beautiful graphics. Koizumi is the expert in that field. He has
come up with many excellent ideas, including the movie
sequences, that fit with the world of Super Mario Sunshine
perfectly. Rather than dwelling on the game's merely attractive
points, I know that the players will feel joy in their bones as
soon as they start playing it. The world of Mario is a kind of
miniature garden in which players can move around as they like
-- that is certainly the case with Super Mario Sunshine. I hope
everyone will enjoy it.
At first, Koizumi created Isle Delfino with clay, in the shape
of dolphin. Young men, I mean at least younger than me, come up
with interesting and creative ideas. The making of Super Mario
Sunshine involved many new and innovative contributions by
Mr. Tezuka spoke about
graphics, but what are important in games are their feel and
touch. What I really wanted to reproduce with this new game were
the feelings we had in our childhoods when we were playing. The
water pistol idea came from this effort. I wanted players to
feel the coldness of water. I wanted players to engage in
mischief, such as watering other characters or playing with mud.
I wanted to simulate child's play. That was the first priority.
Graphics helped me integrate such concepts into the new Mario
game. I have to wait for your judgment about whether or not I
was successful in that attempt. You may say that this new Mario
is a kind of cinematic experience. We have prepared players for
the ending. You may cry about that, but please enjoy it.
I'd like to add one more
thing. Not everyone has used the Nintendo GameCube Controller.
So, those who play Nintendo GameCube for the first time may feel
a bit uneasy initially. Of course, we, the developers, have been
playing exclusively with the GCN Controller so we can't play
with any other controller. I had some confidence with the N64
controller, too. However, when I compare the two, I can tell
that the GCN Controller is better designed for game play. What I
really want to say is, "Get accustomed to the GCN
Controller because, 10 years from now, this controller will be
In developing Super Mario Sunshine, what kind of experiment did
you start with?
When I submitted the basic
proposal for the game to Mr. Miyamoto, I had already come up
with the water-pistol idea. I tried to explain how the analog
stick could make players feel the touch of a water pistol.
Letting Mario have a water pistol alone wouldn't make the game
fun. I started thinking about the best way to feature the water
pistol, how Mario should move and show the water pistol. I liked
the basic play control style of Super Mario 64 and thought that
it should be applied to the new game. I tried to imagine what
Mario would be like on the Nintendo GameCube, and, from the very
beginning, I let him have a water pistol. This is where I
started. Then, I built upon that to imagine why Mario might have
a water pistol; what kind of actions he would have. Then we came
up with the graffiti-like elements.
Talking about experiments,
we experimented with watering and graffiti drawing and erasing,
among other things. In video games, it is not a simple task to
draw graffiti and have it remain there. When you remove a
treasure from a treasure box, you shouldn't find the stuff in
the box afterward. It's not as easy as it seems. Painting and
maintaining a screen-full of graffiti is very difficult in a
video game. It can be accomplished only with the GCN. Some PCs
can do it, but not at such a fast speed. That is an example of
one of our basic experiments.
To tell you the truth, Super Mario Sunshine was developed on
Nintendo's new R&D system, which integrates a 3D engine with
other engines. This is a new system. When you use it, the time
required for game projects is significantly reduced. So, Super
Mario Sunshine was the very first game to be developed on this
basic system. The second game is The Legend of Zelda. When we
were creating the development system, we were unable to
concentrate upon Super Mario Sunshine. If we add the development
period for this engine to the overall development time, the
development of Super Mario Sunshine took a relatively long time.
However, after we started actually making the game, it took
about one and a half years to complete Super Mario Sunshine. It
wasn't very long. I think we have created a fairly good
I often say that Nintendo GameCube is an easy machine to make
games for. Some people may realize that Super Mario Sunshine
does not work on 60 frame per second. What you are seeing
on-screen is 30 frames. However, the game is made so that you
will feel it is more than a 30-frame game. We have worked on
various technologies. There are many characters in the game:
Mario, Peach and many others. We will make use of the same
character models in future games, such as Mario Party. Before,
we had to create each character for each game. Standard
character models are being created by one team at Nintendo,
which will be shared by other game creation groups. Of course,
we cannot work that systematically 100% of the time. However,
when we make a completely new Mario game, the game development
time will be significantly reduced. This is one way to shorten
the development time by improving the R&D circumstances. The
artists working on Super Mario Sunshine did not create many of
the traditional Nintendo characters, which were created by
another team. They concentrated upon making the enemy
Is Isle Delfino a part of Mushroom Kingdom? It looks like
Princess Peach could not exert her royal influence in the island?
They are on vacation and
visiting a foreign island, just like Japanese tourists traveling
to Hawaii for pleasure. The faces and appearance of the island
residents are completely different from those of the characters
living in the familiar world of the Mario series.
You said that the basic system is the same as that of the N64
version. This time, the camera angle is controlled by the
player. In the older version the camera angle changed almost
automatically. Why did you opt to change this?
That question isn't very
easy to answer. Some say that Mario games should be very easy to
play, so the camera angle should be fully automatic. We have
tried many different camera systems, including semi-automatic
ones, but they did not appeal to everyone. Some liked it and
some didn't. Now, as far as the camera system is concerned, we
tend to leave greater autonomy to players, but not to the extent
that it may prevent smooth game play.
You do not have to change the camera angle all the time in Super
Mario Sunshine, but, at some points, you can see cool graphics
by changing the angle yourself. I hope people will get
accustomed to it.
In many games, we are now incorporating the notion that, if you
press L, the camera will show the view at 180º. As long as that
kind of system is in place, it may be better to leave the camera
angle to the discretion of players. If we like, we can
incorporate both the automatic and manual modes so that players
can chose whichever one they like. Our game system has already
become that sophisticated.
Right, but I tried both and found the free-camera-angle style
easier to play.
How did you evolve from the original water pistol idea to
cleaning up graffiti all around?
When I was wondering what
we could do with the Nintendo GameCube Controller, the water
pistol idea came to my mind first. I am right-handed. When I was
pushing the button, the stiffness reminded me of the trigger of
the water pistol that I used to play with. I thought, what would
Mario look like if he sprayed water around with it? So that's
where it comes from.
Then I asked myself what Mario should aim at with the water
pistol. Opponents? A wall? Around that time, we decided to
include the Wall Jump move, so we wanted to create a number of
tall buildings that Mario could jump around. So, why would Mario
have to move around a town with many walls? Maybe he had to
clean up the town with the water pistol. I thought of the idea
of painting all over the town with mud. The idea of leaving
Mario's footprint on the dirt followed this original idea. In
the end, I thought we could reproduce the feeling of childhood
You say that the game may be difficult for casual gamers or
those returning to gaming after some time. Why did you make such
a game balance?
I must say that all the 3D
action games are hard for returning players. Still, I believe
Nintendo had to make a game that could be appreciated by players
with various levels of interest in gaming, and I thought Mario
might have that kind of mission, to some extent. What I was
trying to say is that Super Mario Sunshine may not fully appeal
to causal players. That's all. The game is very well-balanced,
so don't worry.
If 3D games are not for returning players, why did you start
working on the same game system that was used with Super Mario
We are working on many
different projects. We have shown the idea for Mario 128 before,
which is headed in a different direction. But Super Mario
Sunshine took this direction -- it is an authentic sequel to
Super Mario 64. I regret this somewhat -- not because of the
quality of Super Mario Sunshine, but rather because this Mario
game may not attract players who are returning to gaming after
Why did you place a "Mario Action Stage" in each area?
I mean, like the ones found in Super Mario 64? Did you want
players to associate the game with Super Mario 64?
That is the basis of the
Mario series. Though the freedom of action seems to be the
essence of Mario games nowadays, simple mission are very
important for Mario games. One thing we may need to reflect upon
is that players have to clear all of the stages in order to get
to the final one. We should have designed the game differently,
but we couldn't.
The water pistol makes the
game relatively easier. We had to limit the areas where Mario
could visit by hovering, for example, to make the game play more
tense. Making the stages you mentioned compulsory helped balance
the difficulty level in the game.
In Super Mario 64, we could play with Mario's face in the
beginning. Why didn't you do anything like that this time?
We want the game to be judged by its overall elements.
Speaking of facial expression, seeing how peoples' faces change
when you water them is lots of fun.
Game creators, in general,
are putting so many minigames in games today. I am concerned
that they're spending too much energy on these extra-features
and not enough on the larger game
What happens when you have obtained all the Shines?
Something happens. Please
look for it yourself.
Did you actually visit a tropical island in order to make the
It was great. [Laughter.]
No, never. I'm joking. On the other hand, some of the staff
members took days off, spent their own money and visited several
different places. They recorded the scenarios in their minds and
came up with the background.
Yoshi seems weaker than when he used to appear in other games -
he now disappears in water. Is Isle Delfino Yoshi different?
Can I tell? No, it's a kind
Speaking of Yoshi
disappearing into water, isn't the water beautiful? It ripples
and, when you enter water with mud on Mario, oil will float to
the surface. Even Mario's outline may distort. Our creators
wanted to use these effects.
Apart from its visual effects, in terms of its 3D game play, I
believe Super Mario Sunshine represents a kind of breakthrough.
Making precise movements, such as jumping, are not easy in 3D
games. I will be 50 this year and I am an ultra-good player for
my age. Still, it is not easy for me to manipulate characters in
3D games. Hovering contributes to the smooth play. It is like a
jump game in zero-gravity space. It is very comfortable. Of
course, it could make the game too easy to play. That's why, at
some points in the game, you can't hover. Even though 3D games
may be difficult for casual players, Super Mario Sunshine is
You said that you got some inspiration for Pikmin from
gardening. Now you say you started with the water pistol idea
for Super Mario Sunshine. Is that actually the case? Or did you
first come up with the tropical island scenery and then come up
with the water pistol idea?
It was the water pistol
that came to my mind first. The water pistol game play reminded
me of summer and then I came to think about a tropical island.
Isn't it great to play with water on a hot island?
Nintendo GameCube can
reproduce water beautifully. We thought it'd be a shame not to
show the beauty of it, so we wanted to use water in many
different ways. From the beginning of the project, we wanted to
sell the new Mario game during the first summer after Nintendo
GameCube's debut, so featuring water sounded like a great idea.
How did you come to
the idea of a water tank after starting from a water pistol?
Well, I thought it was like
a child's dream come true - flying in the air by using the
equipment on your back.
Although we call it a water
pistol, we tried to design it so that no associations could ever
be made between it and actual weapons. So we were trying to
design the weirdest and funniest gadget, which turned out to be
a water tank you wear on your back.
Today is the launch date for Super Mario Sunshine [in Japan].
Were you trying to offer some message with Mario's new mature
I will be 50 this year. This is becoming my life's work.
I hope to make more and more Mario games that can be played by
anyone. You said Mario became mature. We enjoy ourselves by
fiddling with his face and clothes. To catch up with the trend
in fashion, you must play a new Mario game every year.
When Koizumi submitted the original idea, he asked if we
could change Mario's clothing. At first, I took a rather
conservative attitude and said, "He is not Mario without
these clothes." But I also said, "You may let him wear
short-sleeved shirts, though." Some people want Mario to
wear different clothes. I sometime feel like this, too. I think
we should present many different Marios from now on.
Now that two original creators of Mario are present, I
don't have much to say. But sometime before, I recall Mr.
Miyamoto asking me, "How about making Mario wilder?"
He ended up using the toy-like gadget of the water pistol. But
Mario's actions are rather wild, I think. I don't know what the
next adventure for Mario will be. Maybe he will be engaged in
many different jobs. But I, myself, am now a bit tired. I have
put all my energy into Super Mario Sunshine. All I need is a
little rest. The idea of letting Mario use some tool initially
faced opposition. Now that he is using a water pistol, he may
also use other tools. In that sense, Super Mario Sunshine may
have paved a new way for Mario's future adventures.
We have had rather serious discussions over the question,
"Can Mario use tools?" It may be Okay for Luigi.
[Laughter.] The water pistol was created by the same designer
who armed Luigi. If that's the case, Mario can use one, too.
[Laughter.] We have had serious discussions about clothing, as
well. For example, people may not see him as Mario if he wears a
running shirt. Last year, there were sightseers in the game, but
I felt it was too strange for Mario to encounters ordinary human
beings -- rather than the ones living in his world. Each member
has his or her own opinion about what Mario and Mario games
should be like.
Nintendo Co. Ltd. of
Nintendo.com of Nintendo of America