Nintendo Power January 1st 1996
Nintendo Power sat down with Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka for an hour and a half during the show. Over that time, the two creative giants talked about their involvement with Super Mario 64, the Nintendo 64 hardware, and future projects. They also revealed some of their philosophy of game design and the often outrageous sources for new game elements.
Most gamers instantly recognize the name of Miyamoto. The creator of the Mario and Zelda games is the most venerated figure in the video game world, but for all of his fame, he continues to be one of the most personable men in the industry, relaxed, humorous, but thoughtful and always open to ideas. In fact, after answering our string of questions, Mr. Miyamoto piled us with his own questions about American gamers. He is intensely interested in what Americans want in games.
Takashi Tezuka may not be as well known as Miyamoto, but his work shows much the same type of genius and attention to detail. On Yoshi's Island, Tezuka had the hands-on control as director of the game's development while Miyamoto managed the larger issues as producer. For Super Mario 64, those roles were reversed, and the two men will also work together on The Legend of Zelda 64.
Nintendo Power: When did you begin work on Super Mario 64?
Shigeru Miyamoto: I first had the idea to do a 3-D Mario game when I was working on Star Fox. That was five years ago. I had always wanted to do a game that recreated an entire world in miniature, like minature trains. When I saw what could be done with 3-D modeling on the Star Fox game, I knew we could do much more. Super Mario 64 as you see it here (at Shoshinkai is about 50% mapped out. We have worked on this game for a year and a half, but design work on the game concept began a year before that. During that time, we shared ideas with the hardware design people." (Mr. Miyamoto later pointed out that the early development of any game takes a great deal more time than the final portion. When asked if the game would be completed by April, he said they would be finished in plenty of time.
NP: Do you find that game ideas drive new technology or is the opposite true?
Takashi Tezuka: Hardware technology is very important, but if we rely too much on the hardware and not enough on ideas, you won't make games. You'll have demonstration software. New technology can make things more interesting. For example, the Nintendo 64 can produce advanced images, but if that's all we emphasize, the game will be boring. The problem we face is how to use advanced technology to enhance game play. The technology is just a tool for the expression of ideas.
NP: Is there a philosophy that guides your game development?
SM: In Super Mario 64, I wanted to include more details. The ideas we use in the game come from real life, but they may not seem so. In the process of including an idea in a game, we often change it many times before reaching the final version. For instance, during the development of Super Mario 64, Mr. Tezuka got an idea about putting his wife in the game. His wife is very quiet normally, but one day she exploded, maddened by all the time he spent at work. In the game, there is now a character who shrinks when Mario looks at it, but when Mario turns away, it will grow large and menacing. This is the image he got from his wife and we thought it would be great in the game.
NP: How does your wife feel about this?
TT: (laughing with a shrug): She knows.
NP: What is the most important thing that you can achieve with the Nintendo 64?
SM: Before, in earlier games, we couldn't show the entire game world in detail and we couldn't convey all the emotions of the characters. Now, we can do that on the Nintendo 64. I've always wanted to create realistic experiences, full experiences such as you or I could have, but in exciting worlds.
NP: How will The Legend of Zelda 64 (Ocarina of Time) and other games make use of the 64DD?
SM: It's too early to say much about the Zelda game except that Mr. Tezuka and I will be working on it after we finish Super Mario 64. Right now, it is only a demonstration. But the read/write disk in general terms gives us the ability to create software tools that the player can use. For instance, games such as Mario Paint or Sim City, these can be customized and saved. We might make a 3-D painting system, like Mario Paint, but in 3-D. In some games, you could change the background and other elements. You can also back games up. The 3-D Stick gives you such good control that you don't need a mouse.
NP: Does the 64DD turn the Nintendo 64 into a sort of PC?
SM: We think that the Nintendo 64 will be better in every respect than PCs. We were plug-and-play long before the PC (market) ever heard of such a thing. And since we use a TV monitor for display, we don't need extra hardware for running movies and such things.
NP: People still ask, why not use CD-ROM?
TT: For games, you need backup and flexibility, CD-ROM doesn't have that but the 64DD will. We aren't making movies, so we have chosen the disk system instead of CD-ROM.
NP: Did you help design the controller too?
SM: Design of the controller began at the start of the process to create the Nintendo 64. We knew that we wanted characters to be able to move in the 3-D world in certain ways, and that determined what the controller had to be able to do. So yes, we were involved from a gaming point of view.
NP: How much of the game is finished?
TT: About 2-% of the mapping has been completed, but about 50% of the entire game is ready. Currently, we have 32 courses, but the final version may have more. Maybe 40 courses. That doesn't include bonus areas, of course. (Big smile. They aren't giving anything away, yet.
NP: What can you tell us about Mario Kart 64 R?
SM: Many improvements over the Super Famicom version. We didn't want to show the game here, thought, because the improvements in game play have not all been added yet. It looks very good, but it doesn't play much better than the original so far. That will come. When it is finished, it will have many new options, more items, excellent control, four-play modes, including ghost mode and maybe even four-player battle mode, which I would like very much.
NP: What is your role in the development of games such as Pilotwings 64 and Buggie-Boogie 64?
SM: We are working together with some of the finest artists and programmers in the world on these games. My role is to oversee the project and direct it where I feel it should go if I see something lacking. I have great respect for their technical capabilities, and they have respect for my ability to create games. It is a very good combination. It is more removed from the role I have on Super Mario 64, where I'm so close to the game, but I am happy with the results we have seen.