One surprise to come out of this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo is that IGN has seemingly managed to pin down Nintendo EAD General Manager Shigeru Miyamoto and find out just which game from the Mario series is the creator’s favorite. And the answer? Well, that came as something of a pleasant surprise.
Of course, with so many great games to choose from, it would be understandable if Miyamoto had to choose more than one. This is doubly understandable as he has two unique viewpoints to look from: one as a player, and the other as a creator. For the latter, he notes “that might have to be the very first Super Mario game, for me, because I have so many memories tied up in it.”
I can relate to that, in a way; after all, it was that first Super Mario Bros. (aided by a little bit of Duck Hunt) which helped bring me to the dance.
But what is his favorite as a player?
Perhaps as a player, I might go for what was, at least in Japan, we referred to it as Super Mario USA, which was a game that just had a very different sort of feel. I think we had such a loose approach to it, we really came up with something interesting.
This… this simply made me ecstatic when I read this earlier today, I could barely speak. I don’t always agree with Mr. Miyamoto’s decisions, but I do have immense respect for the man, and to see him choose this game? After all, my fondness for Super Mario Bros. 2 is legendary (or might be, if anyone cared). I don’t know if there are any words, but there is definitely a sense of satisfaction…
…especially considering how many people dump on it for “not being a real Mario game,” which I refute in the above link. And now I have Mr. Miyamoto backing me up! Take that, haters!
Speaking of haters (well, no, not really), IGN threw in this little nugget:
Despite Mr. Miyamoto’s fondness for the game, elements of Super Mario Bros. 2 don’t seem to show up much in Mario games, leading to its perception as the black sheep of the series. Cool ideas like tossing stuff at enemies, a floating princess, and the antagonist Wart seem to have been permanently shelved.
Okay, let’s take this in reverse order:
Wart – Okay, given.
A floating Princess – Super Princess Peach used this (albeit aided by Perry the Parasol), as did Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. Melee. In fact, one reason Miyamoto mentioned in an interview for her not being playable in New Super Mario Bros. Wii was the expectation that she would float, and how that would be unfair to the other players.
Tossing stuff at enemies – Super Princess Peach used that, and Mario has been tossing enemies and blocks at each other in pretty much every 2D Mario game since. Remember how you beat Bowser in Super Mario World?
Granted, it’s not the core game mechanic as in Super Mario Bros. 2, but its imprint lingers.
Other elements include POW blocks being common lately (they did originate in Mario Bros., after all), and plenty of enemies making appearances in other games: Shy Guy, Beezo, Bob-omb, Birdo, Ninji, Pokey, Snifit, Spark, Porcupo, and Pidgit. Some of these were included as late as in Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 through the eReader.
Anyway, not to dwell on that; suffice to say that Nintendo seems to remember the game quite well, perhaps more than some players do. But those who do remember have wondered, particularly in light of New Super Mario Bros. 2‘s announcement and reveal as a game which appears to take more from Super Mario Bros. 3, “what are the chances we might see another Super Mario Bros. 2-like game?” Miyamoto’s answer seemed less than optimistic:
I think the Mario games of that type are really in the hands of Mr. Tezuka at this point. Because he didn’t work on that one in particular, that was one I worked on, he doesn’t have memories of developing it that he would draw on to re-create concepts in the New Super Mario Bros. series now, from that game in particular.
What’s interesting is that this feels like a case of the right hand not knowing what the left is thinking, because in a separate IGN interview from E3 2012, the following exchange took place with Mr. Tezuka:
IGN: We’ve gotten a lot of sequels to Mario with callbacks to Mario 3, Mario World, that sort of thing. I think a lot of people in the United States, at least my age, loved Super Mario Bros. 2. Would ever be a way to return to the world of Subcon and fight Wart and all those things…?
Tezuka: Well, I’ll think about that, then, that’s good feedback.
IGN: Yeah, we all ate our vegetables very well when we were kids because of that game.
Assuming he wasn’t just paying lip service to IGN, then perhaps there is indeed some hope. And besides, it wasn’t too long ago that Super Mario Advance was released, which remade Super Mario Bros. 2 and added a lot of new elements to the mix, so there must be some of that knowledge still lingering at Nintendo.
Incidentally, while I would love to see them release a new game which follows on from Super Mario Bros. 2 directly, 2D and all, I would also be very interested in seeing a 3D version of the idea and characters as well. But until such a time as either happens, however, either game will have to remain much like Mario’s adventures in Subcon.
That is, all a dream…