GQ held an interview recently with Super Mario Odyssey director Kenta Motokura and producer Yoshiaki Koizumi to discuss some fine details on the creative process behind developing the game now that we’re so close to its release. Below is just part of a fuller interview.
“You’ve got all sorts of strange and different new environments in this game—how do you know when you’ve found an idea for a place that’s fun for players?
Motokura: First it starts with all these different prototypes—we have all these different ideas, and we try to choose the best ones to build a stage. And once we have a stage coming together, we start to think about what kind of setting makes sense for this stage. What kind of style makes sense? So if there’s a gameplay idea that involves Mario walking on a slippery surface, we’ll say Okay, this idea fits into a snowy kingdom or an icy kingdom. Or if we have a level that makes use of Mario’s jumping—what if we make use of a realistic city like New York?
How did you come up with the idea of Cappy, this hat that possesses things?
Motokura: At the beginning of development, one of the themes impressed on us by Mr. Koizumi was using the Joy-Con for different player actions. One thing that was very natural was the idea of throwing something. So we chose something that was already familiar to players for Mario to throw, so that they would have a sense of empathy and a sense of connection—we decided Mario would just throw his own cap.
A lot of this stuff comes across as very funny when you see them in-game. Is that important? Do Mario games have a sense of humor?
Motokura: Yeah, absolutely—it’s very important to us that these games have humor, and that playing will put a smile on people’s face. And I think if you have a game that has these responsive elements in it, it allows you to give extra range to situations, where Mario is in a dangerous situation and it shows on his face, or he gets in a more serious situation—so that contrast also allows for other emotional connections as well. I think in this game in particular, Mario [goes through] a lot of different emotions and I think that’s something people will very much enjoy about this game.”
Kenta Motokura also gives us insight on the relationship of Mario and Peach as well as Bowser’s role for being part of the Super Mario series as he is a beloved character. He also explains why people never grow tired of Mario in general. You can find more of the interview here: https://www.gq.com/story/super-mario-odyssey-director