Super Mario Bros. Wonder Director: Online Multiplayer Had to Be ‘Stress-Free’ for Players

Multiplayer and Nintendo – and particularly Mario and multiplayer – have generally not been synonymous with one another. But in Super Mario Bros. Wonder, up to four of you can play online together (with a limit of two per console) and up to 12 people can be in a Friend Room, breaking off in groups of four to go play stages. I sat down with Wonder director Shiro Mouri to ask about the influence of multiplayer on the new 2D Mario game’s design.

“So first of all, we didn’t design the game such that it should be played in multiplayer or that it should be played in single-player,” Mouri began.

“We designed it such that it’s enjoyable for both types of play. And what we wanted to make sure we do is that it’s up to the player whether they want to play single-player or local multiplayer or online multiplayer. What we really made sure to do and kept in mind from a game design perspective is to avoid making courses or areas where it’s best enjoyed in multiplayer or best enjoyed in single-player. We kept in mind to make everything such that it’s enjoyable however you play it.

“The fact that you can select all 12 characters freely or the fact that you can go to any of the courses within a world freely, those are meant to be such that whether you’re playing single-player or multiplayer you can enjoy them to the full extent. And what we wanted to make sure we do this time with the concept of multiplayer is whether it’s online or local multiplayer that we provide a stress-free environment and experience.

But what does “stress-free” mean?

“Some specific things we did was, for example, we got rid of the idea that players bump into each other,” Mouri explained. “Because, for example, Elephant Mario is very big, or there’s a Wonder where Mario becomes very, very tall, and so we wanted to make sure that the gameplay experience, regardless of any of those things happening, becomes a stress-free experience. And the concept behind the online play this time is the idea of ‘casual connection.’ And what this means is that being able to approach the multiplayer game with a single-player vibe in that the matchmaking happens behind the scenes so you don’t have to wait for other players to join, and this also contributes to a stress-free experience.”

Mouri also talked about Mario Wonder’s “Live Shadows,” which resemble the asynchronous multiplayer from Elden Ring and other FromSoftware Games.

“[I]f you greet them, they’ll greet you back. If you fall in a pit, they can help you. They can provide items. And so this idea of gifting items, the idea of having stock items, was a spec that existed in Super Mario World,” Mario said.

“When you’re in a pinch, you’re able to use that item that’s in stock, or if you’re looking for a different powerup, I think that was possible in Super Mario World. That’s also present in this game, but what we added this time was that we thought it might be fun to, when you’re online, be able to pass along this item, and so that’s why the item stock system was implemented.”

“We got rid of the idea that players bump into each other.”

Mouri-san seems proud of and excited about what his team has accomplished.

“This is one example of how we tried to make the game such that it’s enjoyable to its fullest extent whether you’re playing single-player, local multiplayer, or online multiplayer. This online experience in this game is really a new online Mario experience. I would love for many people across the globe to experience it. And as I mentioned before, only beneficial things happen to you, so I hope that everyone around the world will leverage this and have fun with it.”

For more from my interview with Mouri, as well as decorated veteran producer Takashi Tezuka, check out what Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto had to say when he first saw Elephant Mario and Super Mario Wonder’s origin story. And don’t miss IGN’s first hands-on preview with Super Mario Bros. Wonder as well.

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