The partnership with Retro is detailed, and a Mario Kart 7 feature was originally meant for the 3DS as a whole.
The latest Iwata Asks, hosted by Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, has been released, this time focusing on the upcoming Mario Kart 7 for the 3DS. This time, the roundtable discussion features the members of Nintendo EAD, which include Mario Kart 7's producer Konno, art director Morimoto, lead artists on karts and characters Ishikawa and Ichijo, coordinator between EAD and Retro.
Members of Retro Studios also join the discussion, despite the time difference between the two zones. Joining them are lead artist for Retro Ryan Powell, art director for Retro Vince Joly, and lead planner for Retro Tom Ivey. The discussion starts with how Mario Kart 7 came to be. The development team were already working on the game in 2010, but since Nintendogs + Cats took top priority, a lot of focus was placed on that title instead.
The EAD development team met up with Tom Ivey during a dinner where they discussed Retro's involvement with the title (which was originally believed to be just a couple of courses). Retro had finished Donkey Kong Country Returns when they were recruited by Nintendo to work on this title.
Ishikawa, however, expressed some confusion when Retro was announced to be working with EAD for Mario Kart 7, wondering if the team was located in Japan. The team felt very nervous since previous Mario Kart titles were developed in house. But that nervousness, according to the discussion team, turned into excitement at the possibilities this partnership would offer.
The second part of the roundtable discussion details how the karts and courses came to be, with the classic courses being the first to be designed and developed. They state that Nintendo developed half the courses while Retro handled the other half, placing emphasis on the fact that when it came time to work on the classic courses they had to add new elements to the tracks so they are varied. The Nintendo EAD team expressed that Retro's knowledge of the franchise helped them in creating the courses and tracks. They used the Luigi's Mansion track as an example of how Retro quickly worked on it and understood how to develop a great Mario Kart track. The team also explained that they had to be careful with how they updated the classic tracks as they understood that the classic tracks had to remain loyal to the original designs, but still be appealing to new players as well, using the 3Ds's graphical capabilities as a starting point in design.
The next topic in the discussion is how EAD and Retro communicated during the development of the game. Mario Kart 7 has a gliding feature, in which they explained that when they designed it they had to design the karts and characters so that their heads wouldn't bump into the glider when it was activated. Character build and weight were also considered when designing the karts.
In Volume 2 of the discussion, it is revealed that Mario Kart 7's online community features were originally meant to be part of the 3DS as a whole. In the game, players are able to create online communities without the need to exchange individual friend codes. Unfortunately, the development schedule was limited and thus they couldn't develop it into the final build of the system.
Mario Kart 7 is released later this week.