Nintendo has recently been re-publishing older interviews (many of which were never previously translated into English) on a variety of topics, and one of them contained a rather interesting look into the development of Super Mario Bros. 3. The recently-released Wii U game Paper Mario: Color Splash features a Super Mario Bros. 3 inspired level with an overhead view, and as it turns out, this was actually Nintendo’s original plan for the classic NES game. Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka experimented with a top-down style during development, but they couldn’t quite get it right.
What sorts of things did you have trouble getting right?
Tezuka: When we first began development, we wanted the game to have an overhead perspective, rather than a horizontal one.
So instead of having a horizontal view of the game like in Super Mario Bros, you wanted something like an isometric view.
Tezuka: That’s right. But, we just couldn’t make it work.
Miyamoto: He said “I want the game to be viewed from a little bit above.” But having a clear indication of where you’re going to land after jumping was a key part of the original Super Mario. Viewing everything from above made it very difficult to tell how far you were from the ground, so I told Mr. Tezuka “This will take forever.”
Tezuka: …He did (dry laugh). In fact, there are still remnants of the top-down view in the final game, from before we switched to the horizontal view…
Miyamoto: Yes, there are.
For example, things like the black and white checkered floor?
Tezuka: That’s right.
While they ended up ditching the idea (or one of the most iconic games in history would have been quite different), it’s interesting that the idea lives on in