Shigeru Miyamoto Didn’t Like Elephant Mario’s Original Design in Super Mario Bros. Wonder

By all accounts, Nintendo game design legend Shigeru Miyamoto is a polite, kind person. Nevertheless, when I had the rare opportunity to interview two leads on Nintendo’s upcoming new flagship 2D Mario game, Super Mario Bros. Wonder, I had to know: what notes does Miyamoto – the guy that created Mario and the lion’s share of my generation’s best childhood gaming memories – give to the Wonder development team?

Director Shiro Mouri and producer Takashi Tezuka gave an honest, insightful answer into Miyamoto’s role in the process. “With Wonder in particular, it wasn’t like Mr. Miyamoto was in our hip pocket during this whole time whispering in our ears or anything like that,” Tezuka said.

“Sometimes he would come by where we are working and look at things and give some opinions. He would generally observe things and make comments here and there, and even things that didn’t seem like they were big comments – I have worked with Mr. Miyamoto for a long time and really understand him, so I was able to get what he was implying or getting to and we would have conversations around those sorts of topics.”

“He did have a comment about Elephant Mario,” Mouri-san interjected, referencing one of the new forms Mario can take in Wonder.

“It was a phase where we still had tentative visuals for Elephant Mario, and we had plans to adjust the visuals already, but he had come and taken a look before that and he gave us the sharp comment that ‘This doesn’t look like a Mario character.’ Along the same topics, there was the idea of how Elephant Mario sprays water, he came and said that if an elephant was actually spraying water, it wouldn’t move that way, and that was an example of feedback he gave us.”

Elephant Mario is proving popular with fans

While Miyamoto isn’t as involved with day-to-day game development, he remains notorious for his pointed feedback and is known for his strong feelings around storytelling and other features. He elaborated a bit on some of his feelings in that regard in an interview with IGN from earlier this year.

Despite Miyamoto’s feelings, Elephant Mario is proving to be a hit with fans. Many were amused by the sight of Elephant Mario crushing poor Yoshi, among visual gags. We also got to see plenty more power-ups during the 15-minute Nintendo Direct.

I played Super Mario Bros. Wonder for an hour last week, ahead of my interview with Mouri and Tezuka. Don’t miss my hands-on impressions, as well as more from my conversation with Wonder’s director and producer, including how the development team started with over 1000 ideas for Wonder effects.

Ryan McCaffrey is IGN’s executive editor of previews and host of both IGN’s weekly Xbox show, Podcast Unlocked, as well as our monthly(-ish) interview show, IGN Unfiltered. He’s a North Jersey guy, so it’s “Taylor ham,” not “pork roll.” Debate it with him on Twitter at @DMC_Ryan.

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Author: Ryan McCaffrey