Super Mario is the most popular video game of all time. Its success generated millions in revenue and strongly influenced many generations. Among the games under the franchise, Mario 64 is still known as one of the best Mario games of all time. As it stood the test of time, but creating it wasn’t an easy task. How difficult was it to create Mario in 3D?
Super Mario 64 introduced the popular plumber in a 3D platform. The development cycle was so challenging that it caused two video game programmers to retire from video game development entirely.
The Creation of Super Mario 64
In the early nineties, Super Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto had an idea to translate Mario into a 3D game while he was working on Star Fox, a Super Nintendo Entertainment System game. Miyamoto saw the potential of translating the Italian plumber to 3D. However, the technology at the time limited him from realizing his idea. (Source: Goomba Stomp)
But in 1993, Miyamoto took the challenge of creating a 3D game with Mario as the main character. He wanted to create an entire world in miniature, like a miniature train set. Miyamoto also reformulated the idea for the Nintendo 64, so it could handle Mario’s actions smoother, with the help of more buttons and a thumbstick on the controller.
Miyamoto and his team of just around fifteen people focused on Mario’s movement. The movement was the essential program they needed to accomplish first. The designers and programmers were tasked to develop as many possible movements as possible. This led to many calculations and more than 250 animation patterns translating Mario’s movements from 2D to 3D.
Once that was done, the developers started creating the rules of 3D platforming. The maps of each level were also created using many notes and conversations Miyamoto had with course director Yoichi Yamada. The maps endured many changes, with the players’ capabilities in successfully controlling Mario in mind.
The classic Mario character was redesigned. He looked, sounded, and moved differently, thanks to the freedom to navigate in 3D. This was revolutionary for video games at the time. Since it was meant to be a forward step for the famous character, most developers and programmers had to think out of the box. They had to solve problems that didn’t exist in 2D games. They had to innovate and find the best possible solution to their challenges. (Source: The Boar)
Why was Mario 64 Revolutionary?
Despite the game being initially released 26 years ago, its design and development have withstood the test of time. It is mainly responsible for revolutionizing how video games were created. Super Mario 64 is still one of the best 3D platformer games today.
Following the same philosophy as the previous Mario games, developers focused on creating multiple possibilities from a single action. For instance, when Mario jumps, in Super Mario 64, the developers made the possibility of the character performing a double jump or a triple jump, depending on how the player executed the action.
Super Mario 64 was also one of the first games that allowed players to explore the maps across the three axes. It pioneered open-world games where players can move and interact with objects on the map. Besides that, the game was created with clear goals yet offered many side conquests, leaving the player to discover and complete different missions within the level. (Source: Collider)