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Iwata Asks Reveals New Super Mario Bros. U Took Three Years To Develop

Posted Fri, 16 Nov 2012 | 14:00 GMT by Andy Green

Think you got what it takes?

And it's not child's play either

New Super Mario Bros. U will be one of two first party Wii U launch titles when Nintendo’s new console finally becomes available to buy - the other of course being Nintendo Land - and it has been revealed in the latest edition of Iwata Asks that the game has been in the works ever since its predecessor New Super Mario Bros. Wii was released.

This of course meant that the development team didn't have a whole lot of access to the Wii U hardware needed to make the game, so they began by doing the basic things first, like making the courses while thinking about new gamplay techniques they could incorporate.

The team was then shown the Wii U GamePad and a whole host of ideas surged through them, one of which was to make good use of that beautiful touch screen to enable an additional player to drop in and out to help their friends get through a level. Although the team had to think hard about how to implement this as similar touch screen gameplay in New Super Mario Bros. had been "underwhelming”.

The game’s director Takemoto said his main desire was to make a game that needed no instructions, something someone could pick up and start playing right away:

I wanted to make something with responses for even a child who doesn't understand language. Then I considered how we could use the touchscreen on the Wii U GamePad for a Super Mario action game. If you just used it to move Mario, touch controls would be inferior to the Wii Remote controller… But touching it to have blocks appear is easy to understand, and when I tried it, I saw that it was fun. Then I decided to pack in more gameplay like that.

Naturally, this block placing gameplay may make the game seem a little simple to get through - after all, if getting over a particular pitfall is becoming too taxing you can simply place a few blocks to help you over stress free. Iwata was quick to bring up this issue of difficulty but the development team were just as quick to assure him this new Mario Bros. game is by no means easy.

Step forward challenge mode, something the Japanese development team are very proud of indeed. The new mode is not something you simply unlock by finishing the game - it is there from the beginning, introducing a new way to play right away. The team wanted to create a game that was more difficult than usual but had to balance it out so less experienced players could enjoy the mode as well, so they made three difficulty levels: bronze, silver, and gold:

I wanted all kinds of people to play the Challenge Mode, so we prepared a mode that advanced players could enjoy, as well as a slightly easier mode that you can progress with little by little for people who can play about halfway through the story mode.

Less experienced gamers can build up their experience in challenge mode by working their way through the medals and improving themselves as a result. So if you were looking for something to boost your Mario skills, it looks like the development team has had you in mind. However it does appear the game is a tad difficult, as many of the game's testers have reported back to the team that the game is more challenging than previous versions. The team even sent out the game to Nintendo of America who emailed them back wondering if there was an error in the game design as they could not attain a gold medal.

There is also a two-player boost challenge mode that requires two people to get along and help each other to the finish with one controlling with a Wii Remote and the other frantically placing blocks to help out along the way. The team were worried that the game would isolate those without a second player until they saw a programmer on the team playing by himself with the Wii Remote in both hands and a stray finger being used to tap the GamePad screen when needed. Now that does sound a challenge.

The team also spoke about the new map which sees the return of the connected world seen in Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo. The board game style world map in Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES - something Iwata referred to as “shocking” - did not appeal to the team, so Takemoto made the move to create a vast and connected world map to plough through:

I wanted to take that thrilling map from over 20 years ago and use the latest Wii U technology to take it a giant step further.

The team also confirmed that DLC for the game will be on the way involving some additional courses.

What do you think of all this new information? Are you looking forward to getting stuck into challenge mode? Think you can get all those gold medals Nintendo of America struggled with? Fire away in the comments section.

The Iwata Ask

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Could they really be that inefficient?

EDIT: Seems they were also working on NSMB2 (3DS) at the same time. Not too bad, then.

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miz1q2w3e said:
Could they really be that inefficient?

Well it depends how big the development team was and how high it was on their list of priorities. Like it says a good portion of that early 'development' was just brain storming.

miz1q2w3e said:
Could they really be that inefficient?

It's more about how many people are working on a game rather than being inefficient. Triple A third party companies have a huge dev team to work in their games, that's why they are able to make games more quickly than other minor tittles. 

Besides, Nintendo probably have lots of projects on the works, so they probably need to sacrifice some resources for NSMBU in favor of other tittles.

Nintendo and PC gamer



(And DLC Too! Yay!)

Ah man I'm getting so excited for this.

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3 years does seem like a long time, but I'm guessing it was a smaller team.

I don't know how development at Nintendo works. Do they have an "AAA" team like Namco-Bandai does? Or AAA synonymous with Miyamoto/Aonuma or something?

The dev cycle was going to be as long as it took for the Wii U to launch. If the Wii U launched next year, then the dev cycle would be 4 years.

Of course the NSMB Wii team was put on NSMB Next right away, Iwata probably in the back of his mind had in mind for a Wii successor launch.

They probably were just doing light experimentation the first year.

blackstarr said:

3 years does seem like a long time, but I'm guessing it was a smaller team.

I don't know how development at Nintendo works. Do they have an "AAA" team like Namco-Bandai does? Or AAA synonymous with Miyamoto/Aonuma or something?

The core Nintendo developer is half a dozen teams called the "Enertainment Analysis and Development" teams, which share a base of about 500 or so people. Each of these six or so teams specialize in one or two series, and are headed by a Manager/Producer.

Team 1 makes Nintendogs and mario Kart games.

Team 2 makes "Wii" series and Animal Crossing games.

Team 3 makes handheld and console Zelda games.

Team 4 makes Pikmin and 2D Mario games

Team 5 makes Fitness games and Steel Diver (They are not very big)

Team Tokyo makes 3D Mario Platformers.

If you've been paying attention, you may have noticed that Team 4 is responsible for NSMB2, NSMBU, and Pikmin 3, three games released within a year. The most likely scenario is that the team behind the original DS and Wii NSMB games was immediately put to work on NSMBU. Of course, that doesn't leave many people; on average, each team has a bit under a hundred people, and this is divided into three again for NSMBU. Even if you assume they received extra resources, I wouldn't be surprised if the core team only had 40 or so people.

So there you have it. NSMBU was likely made by a team of about 40 full-timers, plus whoever was available at any given moment.

Love and tolerate.

It's actually pretty fun learning about Nintendo's development studios, because you can learn to predict what games they're going to announce next.

Love and tolerate.

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blackstarr said:

3 years does seem like a long time, but I'm guessing it was a smaller team.

I don't know how development at Nintendo works. Do they have an "AAA" team like Namco-Bandai does? Or AAA synonymous with Miyamoto/Aonuma or something?

Yeah, kind of. You can see what games each team makes here: link

They all appear to be quite talented in my opinion.

My favorites are the guys who made the awesome Donkey Kong Jungle Beat and the GOD-like Super Mario Galaxy, and the guys who made Zelda: TP :D

EDIT: Ninja'd (kinda)

My 3DS Friend code is 0877-1237-2177 ...ADD ME! :D