Originally Posted by gofreak
I wonder if it was even a Mario game at that point, or was a different prototype that kind of got merged into an action Mario game, with the mechanics that would ultimately require. Nintendo does that a bit, right? Starts with some unrelated idea and then skins it with established IP?
That's how we got Mario Kart.
Konno: Early on, we had young men in overalls driving the karts.
Sugiyama: We put helmets on them and used different colors to differentiate between them. But looking from behind, we couldn't tell who was who.
Konno: They were all wearing overalls, so they had the same form.
Sugiyama: And it's pixel art, so…
Konno: With eight nearly identical guys racing, it'd be boring. Until then, we'd been focused on the system, so then we began to focus on design.
Sugiyama: We wondered what kinds of characters would be recognizable from behind and gave Mario a try.
You put in Mario as a test.
Sugiyama: And it looked like it just might work!
Didn't you consider completely new characters instead of Mario?
Sugiyama: Well, it needed to be someone anyone would recognize from behind, so…
Konno: You would be able to tell immediately whether it was Mario or Luigi by the colors red and green. They looked good visually, and we were able to clearly differentiate their characteristics, so we thought it was a good choice.
It's always a case of "does it make sense?"
And for Splatoon, for example, it didn't.
That’s true. After we made the characters human and added depth to the arena, things did start to fray a bit. We weren’t sure how to solve those problems.
We were struggling, even beyond trying to solve those issues.
We even talked about turning them back into tofu.
But then we thought "How many copies could we sell with tofu?"
I don’t think tofu would have really worked...
By the way, one of our options was to make the character Mario.
Over ten years ago, we had a game called Super Mario Sunshine. A unique element of the game was using a pump to spray water. Did this game come to mind?
We get asked that a lot...
Is there any connection?
I forgot about it...
We only remembered it later on. Like, "Oh yeah, there was a water gun in Super Mario Sunshine." As Nintendo employees, that’s pretty embarrassing. (laughs)
But the structure of the game is completely different, after all. And this wasn’t an idea that could have come from Super Mario Sunshine.
Right. We wanted to come up with the play structure from scratch and then create a design to match the structure. So we didn’t really want to borrow a pre-existing character.
So how did you find a way out of your struggle?
We tried switching the character from humans to rabbits.
Why a rabbit?
Well, a lot of it was because of design factors. Rabbits are white to begin with, so it would be easy to tell if they were inked. They’ve got long ears that would move when they did, so you could see them moving and when viewed from above, it would be easy to tell which direction they were facing by the direction of the ears.
And when asked which character they would choose for our new game, a rabbit or tofu...
Everyone would say rabbits. (laughs)