The Japanese strategy guide for the original Super Mario Kart contained an interview with the game’s creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, as well as the game’s two directors and two of its main programmers. This strategy guide was never brought to the West, so the interview was never translated into English—until now. Shmuplations, an independent translator that mostly works on bringing Japanese gaming news to the West, noticed the hidden interview in the strategy guide, and they have created an unofficial English translation for it. The interview is now online and is available to English speakers for the first time, almost 24 years after its initial release.
This interview was made shortly after the release of the first Mario Kart in 1992, and because of this, many of the questions regard the inspiration for the unique game. One question is about Nintendo’s decision to base the game around “kart” racing instead of “car” racing, which is much more well-known. Shigeru Miyamoto and Hideki Konno, who was one of the game’s directors, explained that using cars was actually the original idea for the game that would become Super Mario Kart. However, karts were seen as more lighthearted and were more appropriate for team-based activities, so the developers slowly transitioned to using those instead. This happened to coincide with a rise in the popularity of go-karting and Formula 1 racing at the time, which the developers were very happy to see.
Why did you choose karts instead of cars?
Miyamoto: “That was our first idea, actually: a fun, lighthearted game where you zip around unrealistically in cars. It wouldn’t be the life-or-death, dangerous world of F1 racing, but more the atmosphere of screeching wheels as you zip around an amusement park. From those ideas, the concept eventually evolved naturally from cars to karts.
“When people play this game, they have a big smile on their face. That was a big goal for us: a game where both players and onlookers would be laughing and smiling. It does seem like there’s a boom in the popularity of actual go-kart racing right now, but that wasn’t really related to our choice to switch from cars to karts.”
Miyamoto: “As I said, this isn’t the world of F1 racing: it’s more like going to an amusement park. To be more specific, we wanted to make a game where there was more fun to the driving than simply cornering. That’s why, during the development, it was decided that no one would be allowed to testplay the game in 2-player mode. That was something the whole staff agreed on actually. In a 2-player race, it’s the competition itself that is fun—overtaking your opponent with skillful cornerning, for instance. That’s why, when we were making Super Mario Kart, we were very careful not to lead ourselves astray in understanding what makes the game fun. We focused our efforts on the 1-player experience: if that was fun, then 2 players would automatically be fun, too.”
What do you guys think? Have you wondered why this famous racing franchise uses go-karting? Let us know in the comments section below!