Throughout the years, many of the people involved with Super Mario 64 have been interviewed by many people, and magazine outlets.
This page is to compile any and all interviews related to Super Mario 64.
Shigeru Miyamoto – Producer/Director
—When someone is playing Mario 64, everyone sitting around the TV gets really excited. It feels different from previous Nintendo games in that regard.
Miyamoto: Ever since Donkey Kong, it’s been our thinking that for a game to sell, it has to excite the people who are watching the player—it has to make you want to say, “hey, gimme the controller next!” We tried to do the same thing with Mario 64.
—But this time, the people who are watching seem to have a lot of fun getting involved, pointing and saying things like “move the camera over there!”
Miyamoto: An eternal theme for me with game design has been to let the players create their own vision. I don’t want to just hand players ready-made experiences—here you go, play this stage we made, solve this puzzle; rather, I want a game that allows players to try come up with their own solutions and playstyles and test them out there on the spot. I think that’s the best thing about interactivity. In that sense, I’m very happy that onlookers, too, are getting in on the creativity.
—I don’t remember where I read it, but I believe you said once that the excitement one feels for a game doesn’t start when you pick up the controller, but earlier, when you’re walking home from school and thinking about how to get through the next part etc.
Miyamoto: Well, even if I didn’t say that, I imagine it’s true for everyone, right? Only in Mario 64, in terms of gameplay, we’ve intentionally returned to a much older feeling and style.
In the Mario games up to now, we’ve carefully crafted every stage and level down to the individual pixel. Take jumping, for example. Implementing jumping in 3D is really difficult.
In earlier Mario games, we were able to measure the number of pixels Mario could jump and know exactly what was possible. But this time, we had to design the levels so that as long as your jump was “close enough”, you’d make it; it was too hard for the player to judge. This was a design change we made in the middle of the development, when the game was far already very complete. There was a lot of booing from the staff.
—It sounds like jumping became more intuitive, and less quantitative.
Miyamoto: Exactly. But that’s the decisive difference between 2D and 3D. At the same time, it’s what accounts for the dynamism players enjoy in a 3D game. The essence of what makes a 2D game “fun” is entirely different.
—By the way, did you have any references, or anything else you relied on when creating all of Mario’s different movements?
Miyamoto: We tried out a lot of different things using motion capture, but ultimately we ended up doing it all by hand. We created a “skeleton” for Mario that was the basis of his movement.
—What is his centre of gravity? I feel like it’s in the hips…
Miyamoto: You’ve got a good eye. (laughs) The area around his hips is a big “joint” that controls which way his body moves. We created all his movements from that point of origin: when he accelerates and inclines forward, when he turns and leans left or right, etc. So Mario sort of runs like Arale-chan, with the correct sense of weight in the body.
Arale-chan, a character from Dr. Slump, appears to have inspired Mario’s movement and animation.
—But there’s a lot of unrealistic movements in Mario’s repertoire, too. Like when he does his long jump, it’s faster than if he was running!
Miyamoto: With 3D, little “lies” like that can go unnoticed. So we lied a lot! I mean, Mario is this weird old dude who can jump 3 times his height… so who’s counting? (laughs)
—The way Mario’s face moves is really great too. Like in the opening scene.
Miyamoto: That actually came from a prototype for Mario Paint 3D (that we’re still going to release). Skin animation, as it’s called, is a fairly standard thing in the world of animation, but I think this is the first time it’s actually been included in a game.
—It’s simple, but really fun.
Miyamoto: Game developers are starting to have a lot of pretensions with 3D. It used to be, in the past, people would ask me “Making games is a lot like making movies, isn’t it?” And I’d always respond, “Yeah, it kind of is. It’s a similar process.” Then they’d ask me, “So, do you want to make movies then?” And I’d always reply in the negative, that no, we don’t want to make movies—because we’re making games.
But lately, everyone making games seems to aspire to be some kind of movie director! Part of me is like, what the hell, do you all have some inferiority complex about movies?!
At the same time, when we were making the opening titles for Mario 64, we realized this was starting to feel a lot like making a movie! We decided we to try and make it interactive, something you could play with as in the rest of the game. As a title screen, if people feel it’s a little empty or lacking something, all I can say is “sorry!”
—I noticed that Mario speaks with an Italian accent in this game.
Miyamoto: There’s no particularly detailed background or anything, but yeah, it’s a given that Mario is an Italian-American from Brooklyn, New York. That voice was actually done by a professional voice actor. He did Mario’s voice five or six years ago, at a video game event. By the way, Mario talks a lot more in the American version of Mario 64. He says “Okie Dokie!” and more. Peach also speaks. We had more time before the American release, so we improved the game.
—I also noticed that there seems to be a lot fewer enemy types than previous Mario games…?
Miyamoto: There’s no special reason for that. (laughs) Normally we’d include about 80 different enemies, but this time we had just under 40. And many of them are neither friend nor foe, but something in-between. That was one of our themes for this development, actually.
It’s kind of like, we didn’t want to just throw the player into this scary world and have them go on an adventure; rather, we wanted to make a game where the player would feel, “wow, what is this mysterious place I’ve come to…” So many of the characters might look like enemies at first-glance, but they actually aren’t hostile to you. The bunnies, the penguins, the snowmen…
—I noticed Yoshi appears at the end of the game, but did you ever have plans to include Yoshi in the actual stages?
Miyamoto: There was originally an event with Yoshi. We weren’t satisfied with how it came out, though, so we removed it. But since it would be a waste not to use the model we had made, we included him there at the end.
—By the way, what happened to Luigi?
Miyamoto: Well… until February, he was in the game. (laughs) Ultimately, due to memory issues, we had to take him out. Then we were going to include him in a Mario Bros. style minigame, but because most users probably only have that one controller when they first buy their N64, for that reason (and others) we decided not to.
Shigeru Miyamoto – Director/Producer
Takashi Tezuka – Assistant Director
Yoshiaki Koizumi – Assistant Director
Hajime Yajima – Programmer
Yasunari Nishida – System Programmer
Yoshinori Tanimoto – System Programmer
—Mario 64 is the lead-off title for the new Nintendo 64… but how did the project first get started?
Miyamoto: Well, in the beginning… we were working on something really simple—deceptively simple, even, from the perspective of the team that would go on to finish the huge, final game. (laughs) There was a room made of simple lego-like blocks, and Mario and Luigi could run around in there, climb slopes, jump around, etc. We were trying to get the controls right with an analogue 3D stick, and once that felt smooth, we knew we were halfway there. And so, along the way, we realized wanted to create a slightly larger area for them to move around in…
—I don’t know if “slightly” is the right word there…
Miyamoto: Well, that’s how it is with all our developments. (laughs) For this game things were especially vague in the beginning, because we developed it in tandem with the N64 hardware, and we didn’t know exactly how powerful the hardware would turn out to be. That’s why, at the very beginning, we actually did our work on a large, powerful computer that simulated what we guessed the N64 hardware specs would be… then, well, we got things to a point where the controls were nice and responsive, and we thought this could be the foundation for a game. But the problem was, it had all been made on this massive computer that cost tens of thousands of dollars. No one yet believed that we’d be able to make something like this on a little 250$ machine like the N64. (laughs)
However, once the N64 prototype was finished and delivered to us, we saw that it handled the movement and controls almost perfectly. That was the moment we first realized this was going to work, so we quickly dashed off a planning spec sheet for the game. When the staff saw how long it was, they said they’d been lied to—no one told them they would have to make this massive game! (laughs) That’s how we make games at Nintendo, though: we get the fundamentals solid first, then do as much with that core concept as our time and ambition will allow.
—And in this case, that fundamental basis was the model you made with Mario and Luigi running around that room.
Miyamoto: Yes, it was being able to move Mario and Luigi around with the 3D control stick, and being able to change the camera view with the press of a button. One of our big development themes was letting the players move Mario around any way they wanted. We wanted to make a game where just moving Mario around was fun.
—People have described Mario 64 as “interactive animation”, and I think that term fits perfectly. Mario is truly a joy to control.
Miyamoto: That’s why I think it would have been great if we’d been able to make it two-player, with Mario and Luigi. But if we had done it wrong, it would have turned into a fighting game or something (laughs), so we’re leaving that challenge for next time.
—I really like all the nuance to Mario’s movement. It looks very natural.
Miyamoto: That was all done by Nishida and Koizumi. I should have told them to make the jump look cooler though. (laughs) About all we told them in terms of guidance was to create as many different movements as they could.
Koizumi: I didn’t think it would end up being THAT many. (laughs)
Nishida: Koizumi created the animation data, and I did the programming. I counted them all up, and there were 193 different animation patterns! And if you include the 50 or so animations that we created but ultimately rejected, it comes to nearly 250.
Koizumi: Of course, we brought a lot of that on ourselves by adding animations on our own. For instance, we’d see that Mario had no animation for pressing jump from a crouching position, so we went ahead and added it ourselves. We just kept adding more and more.
Miyamoto: Our thinking was that as players got good at the controls, they’d want to try out more and more button combinations, and if there was nothing past the basics it would be disappointing for them. So we created movements for all button combinations—of course, that means a few useless ones got left in too. (laughs)
Koizumi: Yeah, like the crouching trip kick. (laughs) That was made to deal with short, small enemies, but we ended up not adding those kinds of enemies after all.
—Were there any particularly difficult movements to create?
Koizumi: Movements that weren’t connected to any specific gameplay goal were difficult. It’s easy to design jumps, since Mario needs them to reach a certain ledge of a certain distance etc. But his sleeping animation, for instance, isn’t connected to anything else in the game, so it was harder to create an animation for. People told us “no one sleeps like this!”
Miyamoto: Mario knows how to sneak a nap in, they said. (laughs)
—I got used to the 3D stick’s analogue controls very quickly, and it felt completely natural to use in Mario 64, but I’m guessing it was actually very difficult to get right?
Miyamoto: It was a huge challenge, definitely. Now that they’ve had time to play it, people tell us it feels natural, but when we exhibited Mario 64 at the expo in November, we heard a lot of people say “I don’t know about this, the controls feel really wobbly and slippery…” We weren’t about to back down that easily, though. We dug in and pushed forward, knowing that this kind of response is to be expected if you’re trying to change the culture. And yet, while we were all telling ourselves “walking around leisurely can be fun too!”, I have to admit that internally, I was a little worried… normally games have a faster pace. (laughs)
Ultimately, though, we really did want to change the culture of gaming, and it was in that spirit that we made Mario 64. And that’s reflected in the controls, and how long it takes to accelerate.
—When I played that version in November, if I can speak honestly, my first impression was that I wanted the controls to be a little more responsive. But when I played the final version, I felt the responsiveness fit the game just right.
Miyamoto: We tightened the springs a bit on Mario, maybe? I don’t know. (laughs) In any event, though, Mario 64 required a lot of difficult physics calculations. This is an exaggeration to make my point, but when Mario is moving like a car, or moving like a human, or moving like an airplane… all those require different physics calculations. His different jumps all require different calculations too. It was very annoying.
—I remember you remarking that Wild Trax (Stunt Race FX) involved a lot of car-related mathematics too. Mario’s movement likewise has a proper sense of centrifugal force and “braking” friction… I noticed it when I was playing, and it reminded me of that conversation about Wild Trax.
Nishida: It’s not actually “real” physics, of course—we’ve fiddled with them a bit. Gravity, friction, resistance… these have properly set parameters, but if you rely on the actual laws of physics too much it doesn’t really make for a good game. The floatiness of Mario’s jump, for example, works great in a game, but a real airplane would never be able to fly at that speed.
Miyamoto: Yeah, it really was difficult! It was like we had to go back to middle school and learn basic physics concepts all over again—like what does it mean for a substance to be at rest? I never thought I’d have to study those things again at my age. (laughs) But that was also part of the fun.
—Whether we’re talking about Mario’s movements or the camera, I can see that working in 3D certainly has it’s own challenges. How about the aspect of game design?
Miyamoto: Well, I don’t think our game design process differed that much here compared with our 2D games. We spent about half our time and energy designing the basic system that we talked about. As for the courses and enemies, those actually came at the very end. They were done in a single burst of energy, just thrown together, almost. The hardware was very intelligent, so we had a lot of freedom in creating everything.
Yajima: The N64 hardware has something called a Z-Buffer, and thanks to that, we were able to design the terrain and visuals however we wanted. It gave us, as designers, a chance to play around with Mario in a diorama world, in a very free way. We could do a lot of experimenting—like, we’d make a ghost house course, and then drop Mario in there and see how it felt to move him around there. It was very fun.
—I know it’s a bit off-topic, but could you explain what the Z-buffer does?
Tanimoto: To explain it simply, when using it for 3D CG, it helps visually distinguish between foreground and background objects. If you have Mario and an enemy, and they move in front of or behind each other, the Z-buffer is what does the calculations and allows them to appear at the correct distances, with no weird flickering or overlapping.
Miyamoto: For example, without this hardware, if you had two characters A and B, you would only be able to calculate the position of A in a general way (not pixel-by-pixel). So when more complex or subtle positioning was involved, you’d get strange visual artifacts. To avoid that, the designers would have to make specific requests: don’t draw this kind of terrain, don’t make the camera do this, etc. There were a lot of restrictions. The N64 mostly doesn’t have those problems—”mostly”. Of course I don’t want people to think it was a breeze, either. (laughs)
Mario 64 clay diorama, taken from an unofficial strategy guide (image courtesy of Nintendo Life). The development team, interestingly, didn’t use any such blueprint maps, but created everything as they went.
—No, I think everyone can see how creating a huge 3D world like that would be a challenge! When you created the level maps, did you draw out models/blueprints beforehand?
Miyamoto: Actually, no, not at all. There would only be some concept art sketches, and brief notes/memos. For example, I’d talk with course director Yoichi Yamada about an idea for a level, then he’d make some quick sketches of it. Yamada isn’t an artist, but he draws weird stuff. (laughs) Then we’d look over those and talk more (“oh, there should be a snowman here!”), and those key elements of the level would be written down. Yamada and the other level designers then would refer back to those notes while designing the levels with our software development tools.
—Wow, you were able to create such complex levels with just a few notes like that?
Miyamoto: It was kind of like sculpting a diorama out of clay. First you make a very general shape. For example, with the King Bob-omb’s stage, for our initial, general design we’d have that river in the middle of the map, which you cross to reach the boss area, which is atop a big hill that you have to wind round and round as you ascend it. But say we put Mario in that map, and moving him around, we realize the river flows too fast and it sweeps him away (laughs), and that’s too hard for players, so we swap that river out for a desert valley, like Death Valley. So the form remains the same, but we gradually add more and more ideas, changing the map as we go.
Tezuka: Sometimes we’d be left with structure-like terrain without any purpose, and it’s like, ok—let’s just make it a little doghouse. (laughs)
Miyamoto: That was how we did it, basically adding the finishing details bit by bit. People kept writing notes with things they wanted to add, though… just seeing the notes, I had my doubts whether a lot of these ideas would work, but once they were actually created in-game, it was like, “Ok, I see how this works now.” (laughs)
—What were some of these doubts…?
Miyamoto: Well, for example, when someone had an idea for the race with Koopa, I was wondering how this was going to be made into a game. (laughs)
Tezuka: We had one early version where the course was more deterministic and restrictive of where you could go. You basically had to run up the mountain in a straight line. But it just didn’t feel like you were actually racing, so we changed it to the more freeform version where you have to dodge the balls as you ascend.
Miyamoto: Our original idea was that you’d race against a rabbit. But racing against a rabbit, which is so fast, would be too harsh and stressful. Besides, it would be more fun to make the player lose to a koopa. (laughs)
—Hugging the penguins, catching the rabbits… I loved all the little details you added that weren’t directly connected to the main game. It made me really happy to finally catch the rabbit—I walked around with him, tried releasing him… I played around with that for awhile.
Miyamoto: At first Mario was able to throw the rabbit too. (laughs) If we had another month, we could have added an animation where Mario tosses the rabbit by the ears… but we hit our time limit. I wanted to do it though.
Tezuka: I wanted to have more monkeys, too. In an earlier version of the game, we had them in more areas, and you could chase them around.
Miyamoto: If there were 3 of them together, they’d taunt Mario.
Tezuka: Yeah, and if Mario caught one of them, he could toss them off of a really high cliff. (laughs) I regret we weren’t able to do more with the monkeys.
—Were there other things you wanted to add, but couldn’t?
Koizumi: I wanted to have more tools, toys, and things for Mario to play around with: balls, cars, etc. I really think we could have worked a lot more of those in.
Miyamoto: We actually talked about including more frivolous elements like that: rolling a ball all the way up a mountain, or use it to plug up a gas flume, stuff like that. I think if you include a ball in a stage, then players would naturally want to try rolling it up a hill, right? You should tell us if that sounds boring, though. (laughs)
—No, I like doing stuff like that. With King Bob-omb, our editors tried to see how far we could roll him downhill. (laughs)
Miyamoto: That’s the kind of thing I want players to do! Pointless stuff like that. Truth be told, we did something with Mario 64 that we don’t usually do: we had children playtest it. We had a row of about 10 middle schoolers, and had them play around on the King Bob-omb’s stage for half a day, while we observed from behind.
My child was one of them, actually… but seeing him try dozens of times, over and over, to get up this unclimbable hill, as a parent I couldn’t help but think, “Geez, does this kid have any brains?” (laughs) Afterwards we asked the children what they thought of the game, and they said it was fun, and that they wanted to play it again.
Up to now, I think there’s been this image with games that if you can’t beat it, it’s not a fun or good game, right? That’s a philosophy we’ve stuck to at Nintendo, too, but I figured that if a game was this fun to play even if you weren’t getting anywhere, well, it must be alright. Until this game, I was very skeptical about something like this being fun.
—No, it really is a fun just wandering around doing nothing in particular. When I first played it, I spent awhile just running around the castle outside, swimming, jumping… it felt really good.
Miyamoto: That was our big gamble. We thought that half the people would just go straight into the castle, and half would hang out and explore outside, as you described. We made the game with that latter half of players in mind. I’m not saying that either way is “correct”, of course.
Bringing the baby penguin “Tuxie” back to its Mother. As noted by the team throughout this interview, non-traditional (for the time) gameplay elements like this were a huge part of Mario 64’s success.
—How about everyone else? Were there other things you wanted to do more of in Mario 64?
Yajima: I wanted to make terrain that could be changed—and for the game to remember the change. For example, if you destroy a block somewhere, and went to that area again, the block would still be destroyed. The N64 is capable of doing that, and I don’t think we’ve come close to exhausting it’s possibilities, to be honest.
Tanimoto: One of the things I programmed was the ripple effect when Mario hits a wall or jumps through a painting. This, too, is the kind of stuff that could only be done thanks to the N64’s processing speed. However, as we talked about earlier, Mario 64 was developed in parallel with the N64 hardware itself, so there’s a lot of untapped potential in the N64. Once we know it better, I think we can do much nicer graphics, and a lot more will be possible.
Miyamoto: That’s why I say this, and it’s no exaggeration, but we only used about 60% of the N64’s capabilities in this game. No, actually, if you look at everything, maybe only 40%.
Tezuka: There’s a lot of fun gameplay possibilities. In the middle of the development, we realized we could do so much more in terms of gameplay, and the staff were saying they wanted to hurry up and make a sequel!
Miyamoto: Let’s do it—but with Zelda this time. (laughs)
—Now that you mention it, Mario 64 did seem a bit Zelda-ish at times.
Miyamoto: For me, Mario and Zelda exist side by side. Their basic gameplay elements are the same, with the only difference being that one focuses on action, and the other on puzzle solving. They’re always developed at the same time, and lots of good ideas from Mario get used in Zelda, and vice-versa.
Actually, the castle system for Mario 64 was originally something I thought of for Zelda, and now that we’ve used it here, I’m wondering what we’re going to do for Zelda… (laughs) In any event, I’m really looking forward to developing the next N64 game. Uh oh, I better stop before I end up talking about what we’re making now. (laughs)
—We the players are also super excited about your next game!
Miyamoto: I’m glad to hear that, that’s good. We’re going to be releasing a lot of games that do things that have never been done before. We still have those doubt sometimes: “is this really going to be fun?”… but it’s precisely because it’s something weird that we want to try it! The N64 is that kind of hardware—it makes the strange possible. Please look forward to our next endeavor!
A while back, I followed Henry Sterchi on Twitter hoping to get a follow back to discuss Super Mario 64. To my surprise, he followed me back promptly.
Luckily, I got a chance to sit down with him and talk about his time with the game, from the photos he took to the presentation he created.
—It is to my understanding you and a small team took press photos in the early development of Super Mario 64. How exactly did this process work? Were you brought anywhere to take these images or did you work from inside your home?
Sterchi: Most of the Shoshinkai demo was done at NCL in secrecy. NOA got mostly involved just before the big E3 reveal. While I earlier thought NOA may have helped provide the Shoshinkai material, I believe we just reviewed the screens for the US publications.
Once NOA was involved, we had a team inside the Treehouse which had video editing and screens. They would typically pair a technical editor with someone that knew that game well and then marketing to pick or approve screens and footage. It was a really small group, I think we had 2 editors and myself and the other producers or translators would normally play the game for the editors to take footage from.
Sometimes we had a specific goal like show a certain character or level for the debut, don't show anything too far in or a spoiler, often we would just grab footage and take the best stuff.
—Which machine were these games recorded and tested on? Was it an SGI development machine, or a standard Nintendo 64? Was there a cart made specifically for this testing/press phase? Did you happen to keep any material from these events as well? Like tapes, images, and if it was played on a Nintendo 64 console, a cartridge?
Sterchi: I believe the E3 Mario build was on an N64 development console because I had one in my office. Very early games NOA had access to had to be played on an SGI Onyx or Indigo if I recall properly. NOA worked with DMA design and Rare closely so if I recall Body Harvest and Blast Corps were the first “N64” games I saw/played on the SGI consoles.Those were very expensive so we didn't have personal ones but a very few shared ones for the group.
As for the boring part, they were hooked up to regular macs to do the capturing.
I don't personally have any of the materials, but a guess is for every screen you see there's 10 minutes of footage for it. Every 2-3 minute capture maybe an hour of raw footage. It all depended on how many debug tools (world skips, invincibility etc.) we would have access to and how buggy the game one. The toughest parts would be human error and crashes or bugs ruining “perfect” shots.
Occasionally NOA would use an offsite local capture company that had better tools (less lag, higher resolution captures, more storage media) and we would be sent over for most of the day just laying down raw footage. Those were most after we went from the SGI kits to the dev consoles. I'd guess 75% was in house in the small group and 25% offsite at the bigger 3rd party production house. The process was tedious, you play play play. Catch something great and note a time code for later maybe or you'd have to rewatch it all and get that magic 30 seconds…
—Now, I'm not sure if you'll remember this or not, but this stage appears in promotional footage for Super Mario 64. The footage in question was apart of a B-Roll tape with many games from around 1995. The tape was distributed to all attendees of Shoshinkai 1995. What's most striking about this, and another clip in the same tape, is that these rooms do not seem to appear in the final game. Can you provide any insight on these?
I don't have any specifics around [those] room(s), but Miyamoto-San often changes a lot and sometimes very late.
Take this as pure speculation, but tuning the analog controls took a long time as did the camera. Miyamoto-San had mentioned that the difficulty of the camera surprised them, took longer than expected, and required one of their best people. My suspicion is some rooms were removed that just didn't meet the game play standards for one reason or another.
I sadly wasn't involved in the early development. I ended up playing it and designing the demonstration with Ken Lobb for the E3 debut. After that, Miyamoto-San liked it so much he designated me the demo player and I ended up going around to a few game and trade shows to demo it.
Since I was the first at NOA to beat it, I took most of the screens and video as well as helped Nintendo Power with the official strategy guide, but I never really affected the development.
If you look at these rooms, they have a very different set of textures and lighting to them. It's very possible they were always non final.
—I've seen the presentation, one of my favorite things about it is the audience's reactions to everything. Do you know what ended up happening to these development carts after the show?
Archived at NOA more than likely. Yeah we practiced it and never expected the audience which was almost entirely journalist's reaction. It was a magical game for sure. When I demoed it, so many non gamers were just in wonder of running around outside the castle.
Originally appearing in an issue of NGC magazine, Pixelatron released the full interview for Mario's 25th birthday.
This is the unpublished, unedited version of a 2001 interview with Nintendo coder Giles Goddard about the making of the N64’s Super Mario 64. Parts of this appeared in NGC magazine (that article is referenced on the Super Mario 64 Wikipedia page), but this much bigger version has lots of juicy behind-the-scenes ’90s-era Nintendo stuff that didn’t make it into the article.
—What was your official job title?
I can’t remember what my official title was, but I think I was front-end programmer or something like that. I basically just did the Mario face. It was supposed to be something like it was loading – even though it wasn’t on CD there was still lots of stuff going on in the background, sorting itself out.
—How many people were on the Super Mario 64 team?
Probably about 15 people in the end. Probably not as many as people think. But then again there was some other people doing stuff behind the scenes. Compared with Zelda [Ocarina Of Time], it was a very small team.
—What was the Nintendo office like?
It was an open-plan office, but everybody had their own little cubicle. Depending on what projects they’re working on, they shift around. It is all open plan, in as much as you have rows of people sitting there working. But then where’s there a project going on, the core team would basically grab hold of these programmers and artists around them, and you’d get the Super Mario group expanding outwards from the centre.
I think at that time the artists and the programmers were actually separated out, so you had an artist group and a programmer group. I was actually right behind the Mario programmers team who were working with SGI on the N64 APIs and stuff. That part was quite small, so you could stand up and shout at someone who was working on Wave Race just away from someone working on Mario 64. Quite a good little set-up.
—Was it a bustling office?
No talking! Particularly in Japanese companies, it’s very very quiet. Occasionally you’d get little groups of programmers or artists getting together for a chat, and somebody higher up would walk over and give them the eye, and they’d sit down and shut up. It’s nothing like English or US companies.
—What kickstarted the Super Mario 64 project?
Well, obviously it was the first game, another Mario game was the most obvious game to do. It started way before there was any hardware, it started on these Onyx emulators, the old SGI Onyx. They had an N64 emulator, the first thing we got from SGI. It was an emulation of the API, not the hardware. At that time, Nishida-san – main programmer who started the entire project off – he was working on a GL and this emulator.
The emulator was quite close to the GL, so he had these little Mario characters running around on the Onyx, or API Indys later.
—What role did Miyamoto play?
There was only 3 or 4 projects going on at EAD by that time, he was in charge of all of them. Three of those weren’t high priority, so he was 100% Mario 64, he was always there. Sitting down with a machine and playing with the various demos. One of the things he loved doing was just playing down with experiments.
That’s the way the Mario face came about. At the time, I was thinking of things to make that would show off what N64 could do. One of the things was real-time vertex calculations. In games, you usually have a fixed set of vertices that you simply move around in a matrix – you just move a shape around. We wanted to move around individual points, morph it. No games used it at the time, we didn’t know what to call it, so I named it meshes or something like that. I was playing around with this thing with a GL program on the Indy, playing around with this Mario face with an Indy cam, a cam you get with Indy – two ping-pong balls for a face. Miyamoto said: can you make a Mario face out of that for the N64?
It was one of the first games that let you play around before you’d even started – and I don’t think it was written anywhere in the manual that you could actually play around with Mario’s face. Another Nintendo secret!
—So did Miyamoto start with Mario running around on his screen?
Usually that’s the first thing to go in, some kind of map system where the characters can figure out what height they are, the camera can figure out what it can see and how much it can see, figure out how to split up the scenery so it only draws as much as it needs to draw. That was the first thing, we were just playing around with Mario. He was wandering around a simple grid to start with, just picking stuff up, dropping stuff.
The animation was quite central to what he was doing. A lot of the animation was actually in there before any of the game. The Mario that Miyamoto had running around basically looked as he did in the final version.
—The camera system was revolutionary for the time.
One of the reasons for that was the Miyamoto didn’t know how to extend the Super Mario Bros from the SNES. Wasn’t really sure how to give that same sort of Mario Bros feeling in 3D. Quite a few months were spent around just playing around with different camera views, animations, ways of looking at the map. At some point, the game had a fixed path, almost like an isometric type of look. That didn’t represent that much of a jump from the original 2D Mario.
There was a lot of criticism of the camera originally. At the time, Miyamoto thought the camera was really good – the way it tried to avoid the scenery. It was very well done – it was done by [Takumi] Kawagoe, who worked on Starfox 2 for the SNES, which got canned. He was a very very good programmer. I think his only job was the camera, so quite a major thing to do. He was there on the entire project – the whole time.
—Your name is on some Nintendo patents.
There was a lot of stuff being patented. I think I had my name on one of them – something like 1080 or something like that, where you draw the background with a cube, rather than have a simple flat background. That was fair enough. SGI had a demo for GL a few years before that, I came up with a way of drawing bitmap information and colour information – so rather than just having a static view, you could rotate the camera around, you could also move objects into the background and they’d put themselves behind the other objects. I think they used it on Zelda [Ocarina Of Time]. So they patented it!
Half the patents that come out have been techniques that people have been using for years. The software patents just don’t work.
This was about the time that Sega patented using different 3D camera views in games. So, suddenly, halfway through the Super Mario 64 project, one of the people from downstairs came up and said you realise Sega has the patent on being able to switch cameras. Jaws dropped. We investigated whether we could use them and whether anything would happen. But there was also a patent on putting a 3D object on a bitmapped plane from a coin-op about 15-20 years ago.
[Asked something about Bowser levels]
The 2D Bowser levels weren’t really a result of that. I would imagine it mainly came about because you had a boss there, there’s a lot of Mario maps you can take various routes to get to the end, whereas this one you’ve gotta have a fixed route going on. You know where you stand – you know you can’t run off into a corner and find another exit. It might be nice to do that, but you’ve gotta meet that boss!
—How quickly did the maps come together?
The 3D worlds formed quite quickly. Bob-Omb’s Battlefield was the first map developed. It can’t have been more than 6-7 months before it was ready and working, with enemies running around the map.
At that time, NCL hadn’t done a 3D game before, so no-one really knew what they were doing, to be honest. The artists didn’t really know how they should turn their Softimage objects into objects into the game. There was a lot of experimenting, a lot of improvisation going on. It was quite difficult to pinpoint when, where and how much Mario came into being.
—Were you able to play with the N64 controller from the start?
The original Mario was running around with the keyboard, on the Onyx server. We had no controllers for six months, we had a simple serial port on the back of the emulator boards. The entire game was done with these Indy emulator boards, hardware boards basically emulating the N64. These serial ports – we plugged modified Sega controllers in – most of us were using these modified Sega joypads. We had various prototypes – there were lots of them, probably at least 100 prototypes, mostly based around the central stick, how that moved, how well it moved, what shape the thing around it should be – it ended up seven-sided, but we tried many, circles etc.
—Was Mario 64 designed around the controller?
The first time Miyamoto played with the controller, because he’s working most of the time on Mario 64, he would have seen Mario 64 with it. It wasn’t so much that controller dictated Mario 64, it was just that was the game he was working on. Mario was the way of testing it out. Probably more the other way around.
The actual movement of Mario came from the N64 controller, the way you move the central stick. There was a lot of thought about how the camera moved with the yellow buttons – I don’t think Miyamoto even liked them. I remember talking to him a couple of years ago, he said it’d have been better to have two D-pads, it would’ve been a better balance to have the same on the left and the right.
—How much thought went into Mario’s movement?
99% of the game is concerned with that. most of Miyamoto’s time is spent on that, and the movement of the camera. The majority of the other characters and animation are done with Yamada-san and [inaudible], these design the movement of the bosses and the levels and so on, whereas Miyamoto just stands in the background, obviously making suggestions. But his main job is to sit down with the programmers and play with controls and camera and shape the way that the way the game *feels*. That is fundamental to the entire game.
—Was the camera system a lot of work?
I think this probably went through 1000s of different systems – having it locked, having it moving, having it locked again, player could control it 100%, etc. That was one of the problems – Miyamoto wasn’t sure how to control the camera in 3D as he hadn’t worked with them before, so it went through with various stages, being controlled by the different stages.
—How does the Super Mario Club testing team work?
The way that Super Mario Club is set up its like a hobbyist club, it’s gamers, so its a snapshot of your target audience in-house. So you did get a bit of feedback towards the end – is this too hard, etc. That might have changed now, but back then you didn’t get any ongoing feedback.
—Do you think Mario 64 was too easy in retrospect?
Gamecube games are really tough – that’s mainly because Nintendo have realised that people are more accustomed to 3D now, either that or Nintendo is more used to 3D. Because they’ve been doing 3D for five years now.
—Was much changed during development?
Apart from the number of polygons use, the characters were first-off – once they were designed, they went straight into the game. There wasn’t really a lot of changing, artists just kept supplying stuff that just got put in the game, conveyor-belt style. That was more or less because of a very, very tight deadline – it had to be out right when the N64 came out.
—Was the N64 delayed to give time for Super Mario 64 to be finished?
N64 wasn’t delayed because of software. Whatever rumours you believe – some games had problems with the final lock check, which might have caused slight delays, but not the big delays that the N64 went through.
They have a very good project management system – the director spends most of his time thinking what needs to be done when, and by who. He’ll go and talk to people and go off and do it, and they’ll supply feedback and say whether schedules need changing. There was a definite someone supposed to be doing something at a certain time. Because NCL have these directors whose main job is to organise stuff, you’re allowed a certain amount of leeway, so you can go to them and request 2 or 3 weeks for what you’re working on. That was one good thing about EAD work – they appreciated that projects were dynamic like that, not saying here’s your schedule stick to it. So, fairly relaxed – but as you’re Nintendo, you’re setting an example to all the other developers, that was quite a bit of pressure.
—Do you remember the reaction to Mario 64 first being shown at Shoshinkai [1995 Nintendo consumer show]?
I can’t remember. There was a lot of attention to the way the camera moved, and Mario walking around wherever he looked. That was what public drew most attention, too – a whole new outlook on games. That was the main buzz. It was something so much graphic-wise, just the moving around.
—Did the positive reaction at Shoshinkai bolster the team?
Being a Japanese company, you get very shielded from any external feedback or anything. I don’t think anyone from the Mario team actually went to Shoshinkai. That’s mainly because Nintendo are very secretive, they don’t like giving out too much info, they don’t like doing it the other way, they don’t like giving inside people access to the outside. Even now, you can’t get internet access inside the building.
They have their own set ways that work. There’s no point changing them.
[Asked something about graphics]
The thing about the N64 was that it wasn’t particularly fast. SGI said that the ‘quality of our pixels are much better than anyone else’s’. Not a lot of people got that – for every pixel it drew, it put a lot of time and effort into it. They were nice pixels. Nicely-textured, nicely-coloured, nicely-lit, nicely anti-aliased. The PlayStation, speed-wise it was much faster, but the pixels were dreadful, there was no texturing, anti-aliasing. Blindingly fast, but the pixels just looked crap. That was SGI aimed for from the outset – the ‘Reality System’ graphics pipeline for Onyx and the Indy stuff – they were trying to compress that all down into the N64, and did a really good job. Quality of pixels over speed.
—What’s the secret behind that Mario ‘feel’?
I think that is fine-tuning. Many, many, many hours and days spent actually sitting down and playing the game. If you don’t play the game, you don’t pick up on the little nuances, and the effects that you think should be there or shouldn’t be there. EAD spend a lot of time playing the games they make, half the team are playing while the other half are developing. That’s why they end up so good.
—What was the atmosphere like during the final days of coding?
I think there was a lot of panicking going on. But it was still very organised, there was lots of people working very hard. I think it was quite laid back at the very end, not many bugs, gameplay was sorted out on time. One of the programmers had quite a hard time of it – two of them decided not to make games anymore because of Mario 64. Not because they didn’t enjoy it, but because they’d burnt themselves out.
I asked Giles to comment about some specific ‘best bits’ in Super Mario 64.
I think the idea of having a 3D version of the world map, avoiding a menu system, is a novel way of doing that. I think a lot of time went into designing it, but not much time actually implementing it – just three or four shapes plonked together at the end, really.
EAD always do this in their games. There’s a connection between every single game that EAD do. The characters from one game are always in another. I think there was a plan to ride Yoshi around – the suggestion came up. With more time, it would have been taken more seriously.
The guy who did the sound was very meticulous, very interesting in having - rather than just having a soundtrack, having it change depending on where you are. With more time, he would have spent more time on that. To make it as much like a film as possible, sounds follow what you’re doing.That was a big thing – they spent a lot of time working on it.They spent a lot of time on the swimming – I think it’s a lot harder than just running, to get the feeling right, there are actually a few tricks you can do while swimming.They wanted to make it not frustrating, so you don’t want to avoid the water, they wanted to make an advantage to going into the water, fun going into the water. There’s no actual water texture below – it’s empty. You can actually use a water texture – it looks nice, moves around, but then you think it gets in the way, you can’t see. They tried that. They tried various overlays, but realised it would detract from the fun of the game. That’s the trademark of Nintendo games – they’re not afraid to take huge artistic liberties on stuff they shouldn’t do with the laws of physics. If it plays right and looks ok then Ninty go with it.The physics in Mario 64 are quite realistic in some ways, but there’s a lot of stuff that went in to give a twist so you could defy the laws of physics for gameplay’s sake. Wave Race and 1080 did the same thing – based on very fundamnetally good physics, but you have bits on top that you plug in so you can do things you can’t actually do. That’s where the excitement comes from.
—The ‘Mario sleeping’ easter egg
Voices in games were new. That was good about N64 – 16-bit digital sound you could play with. That did add a lot to the game. It took a lot of room on the cart, though, very much a balancing act at the time.
—Wobbly level gates
These show the N64 could play with verteses – like the Mario face. We wanted to do something different from 3D on PC. Wave Race did the same, about the same sort of time. Ways of playing with vertices and reflection mapping, this whole buzz going round EAD at the time. I was amazed by the reflection-mapping on the Onyx, only the Onyx can do that, £1,000,000 machine, but when I looked at maths of it at the time, realised that when we got N64 emulators, we can actually do it on that. Very exciting.
—The never-ending staircase
This was simply putting you back at an exact point when you reached a certain spot – it just happens so fast.
—The size of the levelsYou’ll notice that many of the objects that far away in the distance disappear to make this possible. The reason that Mario could do such expansive levels without fogging was partly by being quite compact, despite the impression they were big. Turok were very wide, Mario was quite narrow and convoluted. On some of the maps, there were places where you could swap between map shapes – give an impression of a huge map when in fact it was split up into small sub-sections. There are very few places where you can see the entire map.
Power: When did you begin work on Super Mario 64?
Miyamoto: I first had the idea to do a 3-D Mario game when I was working on Star Fox. That was five years ago. I had always wanted to do a game that recreated an entire world in miniature, like miniature trains. When I saw what could be done with 3-D modelling on the Star Fox game, I knew we could do much more. Super Mario 64 as you see it here (at Shoshinkai) is about 50% complete but only 20% mapped out. We have worked on this game for a year and a half, but design work on the game concept began a year before that. During that time, we shared ideas with the hardware design people. (Mr. Miyamoto later pointed out that the early development of any game takes a great deal more time than the final portion. When asked if the game would be completed by April, he said they would be finished in plenty of time.)
Power: Do you find that game ideas drive new technology or is the opposite true?
Tezuka: Hardware technology is very important, but if we rely too much on the hardware and not enough on ideas, you won't make games. You'll have demonstration software. New technology can make things more interesting. For example, the Nintendo 64 can produce advanced images, but if that's all we emphasize, the game will be boring. The problem we face is how to use advanced technology to enhance game play. The technology is just a tool for the expression of ideas.
Power: Is there a philosophy that guides your game development?
Miyamoto: In Super Mario 64, I wanted to include more details. The ideas we use in the game come from real life, but they may not seem so. In the process of including an idea in a game, we often change it many times before reaching the final version. For instance, during the development of Super Mario 64, Mr. Tezuka got an idea about putting his wife in the game. His wife is very quiet normally, but one day she exploded, maddened by all the time he spent at work. In the game, there is now a character who shrinks when Mario looks at it, but when Mario turns away, it will grow large and menacing. This is the image he got from his wife and we thought it would be great in the game.
Power: How does your wife feel about this?
Tezuka (laughing with a shrug): “She knows.”
Power: What is the most important thing that you can achieve with the Nintendo 64?
Miyamoto: Before, in earlier games, we couldn't show the entire game world in detail and we couldn't convey all the emotions of the characters. Now, we can do that on the Nintendo 64. I've always wanted to create realistic experiences, full experiences such as you or I could have, but in exciting worlds.
Power: How will The Legend of Zelda 64 and other games make use of the 64DD?
Miyamoto: It's too early to say much about the Zelda game except that Mr. Tezuka and I will be working on it after we finish Super Mario 64. Right now, it is only a demonstration. But the read/write disk in general terms gives us the ability to create software tools that the player can use. For instance, games wuch as Mario Paint or SimCity, these can be customized and saved. We might make a 3-D painting system, like Mario Paint, but in 3-D. In some games, you could change backgrounds and other elements.You can also back games up. The 3-D Stick gives you such good control that you don't need a mouse.
Power: Does the 64DD turn the Nintendo 64 into a sort of PC?
Miyamoto: We think that the Nintendo 64 will be better in every respect than PCs. We were plug-and-play long before the PC (market) ever heard of such a thing. And since we use a TV monitor for display, we don't need extra hardware for running movies and such things.
Power: People still ask, why not use CD-ROM?
Tezuka: For games, you need backup and flexibility. CD-ROM doesn't have that but the 64DD will. We aren't making movies, so we have chosen the disk system instead of CD-ROM.
Power: Did you help design the controller too?
Miyamoto: Design of the controller began at the start of the process to create the Nintendo 64. We knew that we wanted characters to be able to move in the 3-D world in certain ways, and that determined what the controller had to be able to do. So yes, we were involved from a gaming point of view.
Power: How much of the game is finished?
Tezuka: About 20% of the mapping has been completed, but about 50% of the entire game is ready. Currently, we have 32 courses, but the final version may have more. Maybe 40 courses. That doesn't include bonus areas, of course. (Big smile. They aren't giving anything away, yet.)
Power: What can you tell us about Mario Kart 64 R?
Miyamoto: Many improvements over the Super Famicom version. We didn't want to show the game here, though, because the improvements in game play have not all been added yet. It looks very good, but it doesn't play much better than the original so far. That will come. When it is finished, it will have many new options, more items, excellent control, four-player modes, including ghost mode and maybe even a four-player battle mode, which I would like very much.
Power: What is your role in the development of games such as Pilotwings 64 and Buggie-Boogie 64?
Miyamoto: We are working together with some of the finest artists and programmers in the world on these games. My role is to oversee the project and direct it where I feel it should go if I see something lacking. I have great respect for their technical capabilities, and they have respect for my ability to create games. It is a very good combination. It is more removed from the role I have on Super Mario 64, where I'm so close to the game, but I am happy with the results we have seen.
Source: Nintendo Power January 1996
Ed: When did you start planning Super Mario 64?
Miyamoto: I'd had the concept for the game for a long time but didn't write the specs for it until just before Shoshinkai last year. I had wanted to make games using polygons even before the Super Famicom was released. Of course, polygon graphics originally didn't work well with the Super Famicom. When the FX chip became available, I tried and tested polygon graphics many times while making Starfox and Wild Trax [Stunt Race FX in the U.S.] and slowly constructed basic ideas about using them. It was about three years ago when I finally understood what specs were needed to move a certain character or object. I was finally able to visualize the N64 at that time. Then it took another year and a half to translate to N64. In the beginning, we weren't sure whether or not the N64's specs and abilities were real.
Ed: So it was about a year and a half ago that you came up with Super Mario 64?
Miyamoto: Yes, we made samples and tested them for the first half year, then we spent about a year in actual development and production. The development/production process took a year, but in total, it took 5-6 years for us to complete the game from early idea to finished product.
Ed: Which part did you develop first?
Miyamoto: We spent a year or so developing the characters and camera angels before we went into details. Mario and MIPS the rabbit in the basement of the castle, were the only characters we had in the beginning. We used them repeatedly for testing. For example, we had the rabbit follow Mario to a mountain summit, then we changed the viewpoint there, and so on. We thought about using a different character in the basement of the castle for the final version, but we couldn't ignore the rabbit. We must say that the whole process of developing this game began with Mario and the rabbit.
Ed: How did you decide what the world of Super Mario 64 would be like?
Miyamoto: I always decide on the basic ideas/concepts (such as Mario's moves) first, then I add other things until it takes a certain shape. After that, I start the total concept of the game. In the case of Super Mario 64, I began creating the world after Shoshinkai [November, 1995]. Before that, I had only general ideas, such as what kinds of monsters we wanted, and that there would be no blood. Ideas such as the structures of courses or hanging pictures on the walls in the castle came later.
Ed: So you started with Mario's actions, or movements, when making the game?
Miyamoto: Yes, they're the core of this game. Mario's actions came first, then we made the courses that fit his movements.
Ed: There are lots of actions and moves in the game, but some of them are not necessarily critical to defeating enemies or clearing obstacles. Did you put them in on purpose?
Miyamoto: The leg sweep, trip move was supposed to be a useful skill at first. It could be used to knock bamboo poles down or to defeat Goombas. There are lots of things I planned, but of course, not everything came out exactly as I wanted. I just wanted to create as many moves as possible that could be controlled with a combination of the Control Stick and buttons, not only for a practical purpose but also to have fun playing. A player might discover a new one as he plays and say, “Whoa! I've found a cool move!”
Ed: Yeah, and controlling the moves isn't very complicated, is it?
Miyamoto: Basically, only the A and B buttons are used in the game for control. Other buttons are not necessary for game play, but they are quite handy once you learn to use them. I spent quite a bit of time coming up with the functions of the C Buttons. I wasn't sure how I should set the C buttons: Should the camera angel move to the right, or should you see Mario's right side when you press the right C button? In the end, I set the C Buttons so they work like the contols of an airplane. The camera zooms in when you press the top C Button, and it turns to the right when you press the right C Button.
Ed: Regarding the viewpoint, there are places where the player can't see, such as in narrow areas. Do you think it's a problem?
Miyamoto: The N64 may be the only home machine that can create a correct, three-dimensional view, no matter which direction you're looking. Because of this ability, Mario cannot be seen when he's behind a wall, and this agrees with the natural physical law. It wouldn't have been right if we had changed the settings so that Mario could have seen through the wall. On the other hand, if we had set the viewpoint to shift each time Mario moved, it might have been quite confusing. I believe we have done everything to get the best possible viewpoints.
Ed: Will the viewpoint be improved in the future?
Miyamoto: Of course we should improve it to a certain degree, but we can't do much with the things that are physically correct. We can only suggest that players move around or stop for a better view.
Ed: What are the differences, other than the language, are there in the Japanese and English versions?
Miyamoto: In the English version, characters speak much more than they do in the Japanese version.
Ed: Where did you add voices for the English version?
Miyamoto: For example, you'll hear Mario's voice say, “Here we go!” when you enter a course. Also, Peach talks during the final scene. I wish we could sell this version in Japan for the one-year anniversary or as a Christmas special. But, realistically, I don't think we can sell the English version in Japan, since so many players already bought the Japanese version as soon as it was released.
Ed: By the way, do you make changes in American games to fit the Japanese market?
Miyamoto: We translate them from English to Japanese, and basically, that's all. Of course, there are some games, especially sports games, that we make some changes to in order to sell them in Japan. If we released Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball in Japan, we would need to make minor changes, like adding scenes and the sounds of fans hitting bells and drums to make it fit better in our culture.
Ed: There are more puzzles to solve in Super Mario 64 than in other Mario games. Why is that?
Miyamoto: I was developing Zelda 64 while I was working on Super Mario 64, and I had lots of ideas for Zelda. Since Mario was going to be released earlier, I used some of those ideas in it. I did the same thing when the Super Famicom versions of Zelda and Mario were being developed: I switched ideas between the two games.
Ed: Is Zelda 64 going to be similar to Super Mario 64?
Miyamoto: They resemble on another in some parts. Of course, about half of Zelda will be completely different.
Ed: Are the characters in Zelda 64 going to move around in 3-D fields like the ones in Mario do?
Miyamoto: Yes, in some places.
Ed: So, will Zelda 64 be like an RPG of Mario with a sword?
Miyamoto: No. I'm sure everyone would complain if we did that. They'd think that Zelda 64 looked too much like Super Mario 64.
Ed: Then what makes Zelda 64 different from Mario 64?
Miyamoto: I can't say anything yet. Well, the camera system…
Ed: We saw the video of Zelda 64. Have you made any changes since that video?
Miyamoto: Yes, scenes in the final version will be quite different from those in the video, but you will still see some scenes from the same angels you saw in the video. We aren't sure if it's the best angle for actually playing. It's possible to make demo scenes from that angle-they aren't difficult to create. By the way, some people thought that the demo scenes at Shoshinkai were playing on development equipment, but they were actually playing on the N64.
Ed: We were shocked when we saw that demonstration video.
Miyamoto: What parts of the video were most amazing to you? Were you surprised by the shining, metallic-looking soldiers?
Ed: I couldn't believe that those amazing characters were in the actual game. I thought images like those were possible only with development equipment.
Miyamoto: But you saw them actually move in the video. You might have noticed the soldiers stop for a moment just before making a move, such as just before swinging a sword. Their action didn't look natural because of those brief pauses. We need to adjust this problem in the final version.
Ed: Regarding Wave Race 64, why did you make such big changes in the watercraft? They're very different from the ones we saw at first.
Miyamoto: Before Shoshinkai, we concentrated on making the water as realistic as possible on the screen, and we concentrated on the vehicles after the show. Although we used boats in the video, we decided on jet skis later. Boats looked pretty good at the show, but I didn't think that Wave Race 64 would be unique from similar games on other systems if we used boats. Jet skis can show many maneuvers that work well in the realistic water of Wave Race 64.
Ed: How is Star Fox coming?
Miyamoto: Everything is going well. That game is…no, I must not give anything away. Well, its graphics are sharp and clear.
Ed: How about the player's vehicle? A tank was used in the Shoshinkai video.
Miyamoto: Player's vehicle? I shouldn't make comments on this… I can only say that the tank is a player's vehicle…
Ed: Everyone is really looking forward to seeing Super Mario Kart R. How's it going?
Miyamoto: We are working on high-speed processing and other technical improvements. We want to design this game so that users can play in four-player mode as well as in one-player mode.
Ed: The video version looked nearly complete. Do you still need time for adjustments?
Miyamoto: Yes, that's one of the reasons we're still working on it. We are also spending time creating different driving styles. The Control Stick will control the cars, and the cars in this game will run very differently from one another. Soem cars have very touchy handling, while others have straight-forward handling. We're also spending lots of time on characters, like changing Donkey Kong to Super Donkey Kong.
Ed: Regarding the control, it the Control Stick just for handling the wheel?
Miyamoto: Well, I can't tell you. How to use the Control Stick is the most critical part of the game, but, again, I can't tell you…
Ed: Almost all of Nintendo's new games, including Super Mario 64 use polygon graphics. Are you going to use polygon graphics in your future games?
Miyamoto: One of the major reasons that I wanted to develop for the N64 is that it makes it possible to draw precise, realistic 3-D images and scenes. The video world will not expand without accurate graphics and scenes. For that reasons, we will be using polygons more in designing games.
Quality per pixel of a picture is very high, so even 2-D games look totally different. Pictures can also be reduced or enlarged without any problem.
Development of Super Famicom games depend on the specs of the hardware. We needed to know how many sprites were possible on the hardware. On the other hand, that made it easy to create a game. But the N64 is programming-free hardware. A designer can create whatever he wants without worrying about sprites or cells.
Unlike programming for the Super Famicom, we don't have to consider the specs of the hardware when making 2-D games for N64. Designing games will depend on what the programmers do. They can use the N64 to do whatever they want, such as morphing.
So we may see games that make us wonder how they were created. The N64 is really an interesting and exciting machine. In some cases, 2-D images created on the N64 may be more interesting than 3-D graphics. Right now, we're making Yoshi's Island in 2-D.
Ed: Nintendo released Yoshi's Island for the Super Famicom after Donkey Kong Country. The graphics for Yoshi's Island were, by contrast, softer and more pastel.
Miyamoto: Yes, you're right. Regarding the release of Yoshi Island for N64, we want to wait at least six months after the release of Super Mario 64 to release it.
Ed: What do you think about connecting the N64 to a network system?
Miyamoto: Networking is one of the important ideas in the long run, but I don't think that we need to discuss a long-term plan with consumers right now. Frankly, I wouldn't be interested in networking right now if I were a consumer. Why do we need to worry about things that might be available in the future? We should consider networking when it becomes truly available. I believe that recent debates on networking are discussed primarily to profit hardware manufacturers and stores. It's like the multi-media boom we experienced a while ago. Networking N64 will be realistic when the N64 is in about five million households. Nintendo hardware can be easily applied to a network at any time.
Japan is not ready for a network yet. Regular households have only one telephone line. If a gamer were occupying the phone line with the network, other family members wouldn't be able to use the phone. We'll have to wait until the government takes the lead in networking or until the household environment is ready for a network.
Ed: I understand that it will take a while until networking will be widely accepted.
Miyamoto: I am looking forward to that day. Some households may get extra telephone lines for networking in the future, but it isn't realistic in Japan right now. I am more focused on simultaneous multi-play.
Ed: What about 64DD?
Miyamoto: You will see it at Shoshinkai in November. I can't say anything else right now.
Ed: I heard that the 64DD uses a writable disk. If that's true, how will you use it for the upcoming Zelda game?
Miyamoto: That's top secret.
Ed: How is the controller Memory Pak used?
Miyamoto: It can be used as an optional accessory. You can use the Memory Pak for backing up certain game data. Of course, the 64DD will be used for back-up in the future, too. I am hoping that players use the Pak to save their personal data for sports games, then play together. That will be fun.
Source: Nintendo Power October 1996