The Steel Diver Iwata Asks reveals the game's origins, including why the game is slow paced and light on content.
Steel Diver was at one point planned to be a DSiWare title, and Mario is fat because games back then could only read square collision detections, according to a recent Iwata Asks about Steel Diver.
The 3DS launch title began life as a technical demo for E3 2004 for the Nintendo DS. After which, the game’s producer Tadashi Sugiyama became involved with other projects. The game wasn’t revived until Nintendo of America asked if it could be released as a DSiWare game.
At first the team was only working on one mode, but that quickly changed as they decided to move the game from DSiWare to a full retail DS game.
The team took awhile to get the controls and feel of the game locked down. Members of the team, along with members from the Super Mario Club, who do the testing for Nintendo games, said that the game was slow and didn’t respond well. They wanted it simpler and faster. There was a bit of back and forth with making the controls lighter, but then the game started feeling less and less like a realistic submarine. After experimenting with making the game easier to control, the team felt that it didn’t feel right, and decided to go back and make it slower paced and heavier again.
There were also challenges for the collision detection. Lots of things like the periscope stick out on a submarine, which can be tricky to get the collisions just right. Miyamoto joked about simply making the sub a square container like shape. He then went on to give an example using Mario.
“The reason Mario is a plump shape is because gaming devices at that time could only read collisions between square boxes, not because I wanted to make him cute,” Miyamoto revealed. “His design turned out like that because I adjusted for the capabilities of the gaming device of the day. For example, resolution was low, so I made his face big. But today's game consoles can handle collisions with round or irregular shapes. Even so, it's difficult with a complicated shape like that of a submarine.”
Just when the game was basically complete, Miyamoto told them that they should move the game to the Nintendo 3DS. At the time, they didn’t have a sufficient development kit, and getting the game to have the stereoscopic 3D effect wasn’t as easy as they thought it would be. Finally the team got it to look right the day before their presentation.
Director Takaya Imamura asked several times if they could add more content, but both Sugiyama and Miyamoto rejected the idea, instead wanting the game to be more focused and limited so that players could play it again and again.