Author Topic: Koizumi Talks...and talks, and talks, and talks  (Read 2909 times)


  • Trusts the fungus
« on: December 06, 2007, 08:20:54 PM »
With the release of Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii, director Yoshiaki Koizumi is getting an awful lot of press time.  Fortunately for us, that means lots of neat "behind the scenes" information on Galaxy and the other titles he's had his hands on.  Here are some of Koizumi's recent interviews and some tidbits of information from each.

Wired Game|Life Interview by Chris Kohler
  * Koizumi mentions being the guy who "sneaks" story elements into Mario/Zelda games, due to Miyamoto and other development folks not being all that interested in the story and background plot for games.
  * His development of the plot scenario for Link's Awakening.
  * Koizumi studied film and writing in school, and took a job at Nintendo after graduation.  "(M)y ambition had always been to make drama. That was my goal: Having a character, in a certain kind of world, having him go through a series of actions to accomplish something, and creating a dramatic tension throughout that. And games seemed like a really good opportunity to create a kind of drama that you don’t find in films."
  * Miyamoto's vagueness when it comes to suggestions for game changes, and how Koizumi finds himself entering into this state of vagueness with his own staff now.
  * "I feel like you really can't have Galaxy without all of the things we learned from Sunshine."

Next Generation's Post Mortem, by Kris Graft
  * "I’ve actually been very surprised that the reviews have been so amazing . . . I didn’t know that a 3D action game like Mario was going to be so well-accepted. I mean those games tend to do a little bit better in Europe and the US than they do in Japan, because in Japan they tend to have a few more problems with motion-sickness and disorientation in 3D games. And just in general you never know how people are going to react. But the reviews in Japan have been really, really good this time around so I’m very surprised and very happy about that"
  * The game balances the challenge level by limiting you to three hit points, but supplying plenty of extra lives.  "Hard core" gamers appreciate the challenge from the limited hit points, while "casual gamers" aren't frustrated because they have plenty of chances to succeed.
  * Koizumi and Miyamoto both feel that there really shouldn't be a major divide between the "hard core" and the "casual", as long as a game is well designed.
  * Miyamoto tends to be ambiguous, and that means Koizumi became a sort of an "interpreter" for the rest of the development team.
  * Koizumi wasn't really aware of the Super Mario Bros. 3 references in Galaxy until after it was released and people started commenting on them.  The suits/powers were designed for the game, and the musical references were done by the rest of the team.

Game Daily's interview, by Willis Lambert
  * Experienced gamers have certain expectations when it comes to new Mario games, and he doesn't want to disappoint them. At the same time, that doesn't mean things are identical; new elements and interpretations must be there to keep the sense of wonder alive.  Folks expect Goombas, but what would space Goombas be like?
  * The folks most concerned about changing elements of "the Mario universe" weren't Miyamoto and Koizumi, but rather the other members of the design team and staff.  When new and novel ideas were shown, many responded with "No, that's not a Mario game".  Getting new and novel ideas into the game often came with a lot of resistance.
  * Many level and world designs come from food.  Koizumi often doodles little pictures of food, and he feels that food is immediately appealing and thus works well for thematic structure in the game.  As far as what kinds of food can be found in the game, "there's one that looks like a Japanese tea suite, or two pancakes with a bit of bean paste in the middle, you'll see watermelons, peanuts..."

Gamesutra's Interview from the Montreal Games Summit, by Brandon Boyer and Leigh Alexander
  * During the development of Super Mario 64, Koizumi worked on the creation of Mario's walking and basic movements.  There was a very late development night when Miyamoto acted out Mario's motions while Koizumi modeled them.
  * Depth perception is vitally important when it comes to moving in 3D, but it's very difficult to convey this physical truth to gamers in 3D game.  Shadows are used to help show the location of characters in 3D; while it's not realistic to show a shadow always being directly below the object casting it, it does help the gamer in locating objects in the game.
  * It's very easy to get lost in a 3D game, and it's hard to both use a map and keep the action in the game going.  As a result, the 3D Mario titles tend to have levels with large landmarks and even giant arrows, to keep the gamer from getting confused.
  * The success of Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat helped remind Koizumi that games need to be played and enjoyed by everyone in the family.  The simple control scheme (and "over the top" style) could appeal to both experienced gamers and new folks, and that led to a desire to make future games accessible to all.
  * Spherical worlds mean no "invisible walls", thus helping keep gamers in the game.
  * The "planet camera" system in Super Mario Galaxy allows Mario to move all over the place while staying centered on the screen.  This reduces camera panning and seems to help in reducing the risk of motion sickness for those prone to such things.

Phew. That was a lot of work.  Go read the full articles and have fun!

Wired Game|Life Interview by Chris Kohler
Next Generation's Post Mortem, by Kris Graft
Game Daily's interview, by Willis Lambert
Gamesutra's Interview from the Montreal Games Summit, by Brandon Boyer and Leigh Alexander
« Last Edit: December 06, 2007, 10:43:40 PM by Deezer »
Let's do the Mario, all together now!