As Nintendo readies to launch the Wii U in Europe on 30 November, New Super Mario Bros U will be the first Mario game to coincide with a new hardware release since the Nintendo 64 in 1996. In an exclusive interview with games™, director Masataka Takemoto discusses the portly plumber’s crucial debut and the challenges stepping into the next generation. “When releasing a game at launch, the challenge is to have Mario be the catalyst to get the excitement going for the hardware,” he says. “So compared to Mario games that are released outside the launch window, it becomes ever so important that this is a Mario game that is only possible because of the new hardware. Also, with new hardware, players will be introduced to new controls they aren’t familiar with. In this case, the Wii U GamePad.
“With a brand new franchise, people won’t have any difficulty accepting it being different, since they’ll just think of it as a new game. But as this is a 2D Mario platformer and people are already familiar with those games, we needed to come up with a gameplay style that people could be comfortable with right off the cuff,” he adds.
There’s also the matter of Princess Peach. Playable in Super Mario Bros 2 released on the NES, she’s yet to join the roster of Mario, Luigi and Toad in the New Super Mario Bros series. The exclusion of Mario’s ever-elusive squeeze has been the cause of much ire among the community, but Takemoto explains that she’s simply not suited to the series. “In Super Mario Bros 2, Princess Peach had her own unique moves and animation,” he says. “In this series, we want all the players to have the same moves and animations as Mario, and Princess Peach isn’t suited for that.”
For more on New Super Mario Bros U, the Wii U launch and to celebrate games™’s 10th anniversary see issue 129 of games™, which features the full interview with Masataka Takemoto, veteran Mario producer Takashi Tezuka and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the very first issue of games™. games™ issue 129 is on sale 22 November in both print and half-price digital formats.