Earlier this week, Video Games Chronicle published an interview with Paper Mario: The Origami King‘s development team, providing many insights behind the scenes about the series’ development.
Among the topics covered in the interview were the franchise’s focus on introducing new gameplay elements, shift towards less complicated storytelling, as well as being welcoming to casual audiences. You can read the relevant excerpts from the interview below, or look through the full feature here.
New Gameplay Elements
VGC: It’s very noticeable that each new Paper Mario basically starts from scratch: you’ve done 2D/3D flipping (Wii), stickers (3DS) and paint (Wii U), but you always move on to a new idea. Why do you never return to the same idea twice? And what led you to origami this time?
Risa Tabata (Assistant Producer): The philosophy of game creation that [producer] Mr Tanabe learned from Mr Miyamoto, and that in turn he’s imparted to me, is to challenge yourself to create new gameplay. Games are entertainment, so I want the people who play our games to say “Wow!” My understanding is that if we want to give players these positive surprises, we can’t do exactly the same thing that’s been done before.
The idea for origami came out of this process of challenging myself to try something new. The theme running through the Paper Mario series is paper, so I was working with Intelligent Systems to think up paper-based ideas that hadn’t yet been used. Intelligent Systems suggested the idea of confetti, and I suggested the idea of origami. The combination of these two ideas is what led to our new game, Paper Mario: The Origami King.
Welcoming Casual Fans
VGC: Is it difficult to find a balance that pleases all Paper Mario fans? Particularly hardcore players who want more RPG elements such as experience points, versus more casual players looking for an approachable experience?
Kensuke Tanabe (Producer): First, Nintendo’s philosophy on game creation is that we don’t ignore casual players in creating our games. This is also true for games such as those in the Metroid Prime series; games that at first glance look like they are only aimed at core gamers. With that in mind, what we’ve done in the Paper Mario series is to put a lot of work particularly into the puzzle solving elements of the games, so that they can also be enjoyed by core users…
…However, I do think it’s difficult to satisfy certain fans with the adventure game direction if they think of Paper Mario games as simply being RPGs. I hope that everyone will play this game with an open mind.
Shift From Complicated Storytelling
VGC: How do you make sure the story appeals to a broad audience? And what challenges does existing within the Mario franchise present to your writers?
Tanabe: In Super Paper Mario, the elaborate story led the game away from the Mario universe, so since Paper Mario: Sticker Star I’ve refrained from using stories that are too complicated. Personally, though, I like games with stories. During the production of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, we made use of a system for character settings and real conversations in order to build the story, which was a first for a game in a series. (I also wrote the text for this game.)
To go back to Mario, in Paper Mario: Color Splash, I avoided having a complicated story so as not to veer too far away from the Mario universe, and instead aimed for a game with more memorable events. To create even more memorable experiences for players, in Paper Mario: The Origami King we’ve established some characters other than the partner character who will also journey with players through the game. In particular, I think that Bobby (Bob-omb) has turned out to be just as memorable a character as Olivia.
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