Today, a really old Japanese interview featuring developers of Mario Kart 64 was finally translated into English by the folks at Shmuplations.
In the interview, Mario Kart 64 director Hideki Konno revealed there were initially plans to create a racing mode with no items in an attempt to appeal to F-Zero fans. However the mode was eventually scrapped as no one wanted to play it, and preferred racing with items.
Mario Kart 64 character designer Tomoaki Kuroume also shared how the character selection menu came to be. Toward completion, the development team wasn’t sure whether to make the characters on the selection screen animated or stay still. But due to a hard disk crash, they had to remake nearly all of the character models from scratch, and thus the characters became animated.
Check out their full comments below:
In fact, originally we had a “no item” racing mode too. It was our attempt to appeal to F-Zero fans, who feel that items are a distraction to the racing. (laughs) It allowed for serious races, where you’re trying to edge someone out for fractions of a second, with all the racers clumped close together in the final lap. As it turned out, however, almost everyone who demoed Mario Kart 64 chose not to play that mode, and we ultimately dropped it. In a traditional racing game you would of course include a mode like that, but Mario Kart without items somehow felt kind of cheap. (laughs) So we cut it out. I guess that for people who just want to race, there’s always the time attack mode. You can now save your best times in the controller pak, so I’ll be happy if players can find new challenges for themselves in that mode.
Actually, halfway into the development of Mario Kart 64 there was a little accident. You know how on the player select screen, Mario and the others are all animated? Originally, we hadn’t planned to make them blink or anything—and the models we had made up to that point weren’t capable of doing that kind of animation at all. We wanted them to have that ability though, and as we were mulling over whether to spend the time re-making all the models, it so happened that our hard disk crashed, and all our work got erased. Of course we had back-ups, but not everything could be recovered. We had no choice but to remake everything from scratch. I remember Hideki Konno saying, “well, it looks like it’s been decided for us now…” (laughs) So in the end, about 80% of the character models ended up getting made twice. But I think the remakes turned out better than the originals, so I guess it was a blessing in disguise!