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Iwata Asks Miyamoto, Tezuka, and Nakago About Super Mario Development

Raccoon Mario Do you really think that we've heard all of the development tales from the early days of the Nintendo Entertainment System era?  Not at all!  Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata has sat down with some of the company's top developers to discuss the making of New Super Mario Bros. Wii in the latest edition of the Iwata Asks interview series.  Well, they're supposed to talk about the new Wii game, but instead the conversation tends to focus on some of Mario's earliest adventures.  Pay close attention as producer Shigeru Miyamoto talks about the process of creating Donkey Kong, how Mario was almost called "Mr. Video", how much time went into designing the levels in Super Mario Bros., why players always collect the first power-up in World 1-1, and much more.

Iwata: If you play [Super Mario Bros.] for the first time with no prior knowledge, you're going to run into the first Goomba and lose a turn.
 
Miyamoto: Right, which is why you have to teach the player in a natural way that they need to avoid them by jumping over them.
 
Iwata: Then when the player tries to jump and avoid them, there are going to be times when they get it wrong and end up stamping on the Goomba. By doing that, they learn in a natural way that by stamping on them, you can defeat them.
 
Miyamoto: As long as you stamp on them, you have nothing to fear from Goombas.
 
Iwata: But if you avoid the first Goomba and then jump and hit a block above you, a mushroom will spring out and you'll get a shock. But then you'll see that it's going to the right so you'll think: "I'm safe! Something strange appeared but I'm okay!" But of course when it goes against a pipe up ahead, the mushroom will come back! (laughs)
 
Miyamoto: Right! (laughs)
 
Iwata: At that point, even if you panic and try to jump out of the way, you'll hit the block above you. Then just at the instant where you accept that you're done for, Mario will suddenly shake and grow bigger! You might not really know what's just happened, but at the very least, you'll realize that you haven't lost the turn.
 
Miyamoto: But you'll wonder why Mario suddenly got larger.
 
Iwata: You'll try jumping and see that you can jump to higher places and smash through the ceiling, so it'll be clear that you've become more powerful.
 
Miyamoto: It's at that moment that you first realize that the mushroom is a good item.
 
Iwata: That's the reason why it's designed so that whatever you do, you'll get the mushroom.

As if that weren't enough insight into the process, this particular Iwata Asks leads into a second installment in which President of SRD Toshihiko Nakago and producer Takashi Tezuka talk more about the development of Super Mario Bros. before leading into discussion of the work that went into Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World.  Topics covered here include just what the "P" in the P-Wing power-up stands for, why a raccoon tail grants the gift of flight, the origin of Yoshi, and several other neat things.  There are some fascinating insights into why these beloved games are the way that they are, so I highly recommend that you set aside an hour and read as much as you can.  These are the kinds of development stories that need to be recorded for future generations to enjoy, and, thankfully, now they have.

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