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E3 2007 - Roundtable with Shigeru Miyamoto

by Steven Rodriguez - July 12, 2007, 7:47 pm EDT

We attend a roundtable discussion with Miyamoto, where he shows off and takes questions from the press about Super Mario Galaxy and Wii Fit.

In the second half of the two-man roundtable, Shigeru Miyamoto sat down with his translator, Bill Trinen to discuss Super Mario Galaxy at length, as well as explain a few things about Wii Fit.

Audio or video recording was not allowed, so we're bringing you the summarized and paraphrased details of each comment and Q&A volley in chronological order.

- Miyamoto first explained that the Nintendo press conference was geared toward a more casual, wider audience. However, roundtable for the press in attendance will be able to know more about the hardcore stuff, such as Mario.

- Miyamoto considers games to be fun through the act of getting through levels or completing skill-based goals, but he also felt that tracking progress and improving over time in a game such as Wii Fit was also very satisfying.

- Super Mario Galaxy is designed in a similar in fashion to the games Nintendo has made for the last 20 years; Wii Fit is more designed for the wider audience. The one thing they have in common is the goal of making them accessible to anyone.

- Just like Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Nintendo hopes to have Super Mario Galaxy sell just as well by making it accessible to everyone. Galaxy's assist mode is one of those ways, where a second player can grab a Wiimote and shoot stardust to stun enemies.

- Gravity is a major part of the game. There are varying strengths of it, various sizes of spherical objects to roam around, and the ablity to cling to the spheres ifrom any direction. The ideas for this kind of thing have been around since after Super Mario 64 and the Mario 128 demo.

- Anyone can play the game and understand the function gravity plays in the game. The spherical objects are what makes the camera system work so well, since people can just keep running and not lose track of where they are positioned.

- Players have always tried to find their own techniques to get around levels in Mario games, and in Galaxy they enhanced that aspect because of the gravity. There are now more possibilities for discovering shortcuts in ways people wouldn't have normally thought of going in a level. There are so many possibilities that it became difficult to test the game. By the time the game ships there will be a lot of secrets to find.

- The build Nintendo showed at the press event was a Japnese build that was not available on the show floor.

- The stardust pieces collected need to be fed to a star character and then he zips off and makes a new island planet to travel to.

- A special object Mario can walk on, called a capsule planet, becomes a more traditional 2D side scrolling levels when going inside of it. There are gravity zones that can flip Mario's orientation from top to bottom, meaning there are places where you jump downwards and fall upwards while Mario is up-side down. This is integrated into the design of that particular area.

- There are 40 galaxies across six different areas. There are 120 stars in the game.

- Trying to get one star involved Mario floating in space with a star in the middle of a five-pointed star platform. Using the Wii pointer to activate a blue star on one of the tips of the platform, Mario gets pulled toward it. Miyamoto needed a few moments to get the star in the middle.

- Performing a long jump on small platforms will make Mario float around them.

- Even though the game takes place in 3D space, the game still plays like a 2D platformer. The blue stars that can pull Mario towards them are still easy to hit with the pointer.

- Mario can lose a life when falling off certain platforms and into a black hole.

- Miyamoto displayed one level known as the Ccookie Factory galaxy. It had an updated rendition of Super Mario Bros. 3 music. There were moving platforms with holes in them, and can be described as a classic run and a jump course.

- This game was designed in a manner of the classic Mario games.

- When talking about the Bee Suit, Miyamoto mentioned there was also a Boo Suit, and many others they weren't ready to talk about yet.

Q&A Session

Q: How did you make the bees so fluffy?

Fur-shading, which Nintendo games on the GameCube used. The effect looks great on the Wii.

Q: Concerning the 120 stars, do you don’t need to collect them all to win? How about that, and will there be multiple run-throughs on the same levels for different stars?

The game is very similar to Super Mario 64. You don't need all 120 stars to get to the final boss, which "might not be Bowser".

Q: Reggie said during the press conference that Galaxy is the first true Mario game since Super Mario 64. Do you agree? If so, where does that leave Super Mario Sunshine?

One of the great things of Super Mario 64 allowed you to run around in a 3D space, which made it very entertaining and fun. Super Mario Galaxy’s system of spheres in space makes it fun to just run around. The control is much simpler on Wii compared to GameCube. It feels very nice and fun on Wii, which is as close as it had been on Super Mario 64.

Q: Besides Wii Fit, what are additional uses for the Wii fitness board in the future?

There are a variety of possibilities. One of the more obvious ones is a snowboarding game. [He didn't say it by name, but everyone in the room was thinking 1080 Snowboarding. - Ed.] Wii Fit includes a ski game, so it wouldn't be too hard to imagine someone else taking that concept and running with it.

Q: Any ideas in Super Mario Galaxy that you thought were good ones, but then later found out weren't such a good idea?

The game still in development, so ideas are still being finalized. For right now there's not much to say.

Q: Does making games like Wii Sports or Wii Fit make you less interested in more traditional games?

"Don't worry about that!" Miyamoto had a tremendous amount of fun working on Super Mario Galaxy, and also had fun working on Wii Fit. He's always looking to try out new ideas. He thinks it's best for game designers to have different outlets.

Q: Are you worried about Super Mario Galaxy being too disorienting?

No. Lots of focus testing has found that this game is less disorienting than regular 3D games.

Q: How do Mario and Wii Fit score on the Wife-O-Meter?

That’s something Miyamoto looks forward to seeing. His wife hasn't seen Wii Fit because he rarely takes things home outside of work before they are done. His wife started playing Phantom Hourglass and she loves it. She has also pushed her Dr. Mario score higher.

Q: Are other developers using Wii Fitness Board? Have they been briefed?

A large number of 3rd parties have had inquiries since the announcement, which was only the day before. Also, we’ve gotten interest from the fitness industry and have had consultation with universities and hospitals in finalizing the design of the board.

Q: Are there more Wii peripherals coming in the future?

When originally designing the Wii remote, the goal was to possibly expand it in the future. All the technology is built-in to the controller, so the peripherals can be made inexpensively. And because everyone already has the main technology, the peripherals are more accessible for everyone. All original expansion ideas (Zapper, Wheel) have been released, and future accessories will only come about when Nintendo has a fun game to play them with.

Q: Is Luigi in the game?

Discussion of Luigi is a secret!

Q: Will there be more than one size of the balance board for different regions?

Launching in Japan first; will get feedback from the size and reconsider.

It may be necessary to make an "American sized" board (haha)

We've been focus testing with Reggie. (ahah)

Q: Where did the idea for a balance board come from?

Miyamoto has become more health conscious during the years and has been working out every day and talking with his family about keeping track of the family’s fitness.

His thought it would be nice to create an entertainment experience with the activity of working out with the family and they started to do experiments to see how they could best apply that; balance board came out as a solid idea.

Q: How long did it take to develop the game, and how big is the development team?

DK Jungle beat team developed, it's been in the pipe for a long time

30 people initially, 50 people now finalizing

Q: What is your role in development? How much of the game your personal vision?

On Super Mario 64 he was the main director, on Super Mario Galaxy he is involved with game design, so he's essentially more involved with Super Mario Galaxy than on Super Mario 64.

The game is being developed in Tokyo, but Miyamoto has gone to check the game several times. Eventually, Nintendo set up a network so Miyamoto could get the games and teleconference in his office for meetings to make it more convenient.

Q: Sunshine's harder levels were a hardcore player's dream. Galaxy is supposed to be for everyone, so are there harder levels in Galaxy the hardcore player?

This is a question he's struggled with for a long time. Lots of people on staff thought Sunshine was hard, which closed a barrier for new players. But difficulty is what made the game fun for people, some others thought. The experience of running and jumping with Mario is fun by itself, but there should be difficulty for the right of satisfaction. The game was actually fairly easy until a few months ago when Miyamoto went in and made the game harder. The development team started to get worried that it would be too hard at one point. There are special challenges in the game that Miyamoto hopes that we will find challenging.

Discuss the roundtable in the official TalkBack thread!

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