Ever wondered how the countless worlds and characters in Super Mario Bros are dreamt up? The brainstorming sessions that led to the stellar and immersive platformer, Super Mario Bros Wonder, must have been nothing short of magical. However, not all ideas can make the cut, and one such idea that Nintendo’s developers considered, and then wisely abandoned, involved "an eight-heads-tall, life-sized, live-action Mario."
This startling revelation was made by Koji Kondo, the game's sound director, during an "Ask the Developer" interview published on Nintendo's official website. He explained that during the development of the game, input was encouraged from every team member, regardless of role or seniority. Through this inclusive process, the team generated over 2,000 sticky notes of creative sparks, which were then whittled down to the final game design.
Kondo candidly admitted that he made many suggestions during these idea-sharing sessions, one of which was an idea for an outsized, live-action Mario character. "I shared the idea of an eight-heads-tall, life-sized, live-action Mario humming along with the background music as he goes along," he confessed.
His bold pitch left even the interviewer taken aback: "Eight-heads-tall, life-sized Mario?!" To which Kondo confirmed, "Yes." The concept involved the giant Mario audibly uttering 'Boing!' with each jump he made. However, and perhaps thankfully so for fans, this idea never made it off the drawing board.
Acknowledging the outlandishness of his proposal, Kondo noted, "I felt I had to take the lead in going to the extreme." And extreme indeed it was. It's challenging to imagine how such a character would fit into Super Mario Bros Wonder’s fantastical universe without disrupting the game’s charming and playful aesthetic.
The term "eight heads" as a unit of measurement was particularly eccentric, conjuring unsettling images of eight severed Mario heads stacked on top of one another. Even if it were meant to represent a tall, humanoid Mario figure conducting himself in the backdrop while the regular plumber-hero traverses through levels, it would still be an unnerving spectacle. This proposed version of Mario reminds many of hyper-realistic fan art renditions of beloved Nintendo characters, which could be quite disturbing to some players.
All things considered, the Super Mario Bros Wonder’s development team likely made the right call in discarding the idea. Nonetheless, it provides a fascinating insight into the sheer degree of creativity and imagination that goes into creating a legendary game like Super Mario Bros Wonder. Despite this oddball idea not making it to the final product, Koji Kondo's unique inventive spirit is very much alive and audible in the game's delightfully catchy soundtracks. Mario may not have a new look in Wonder, but he does have a new voice actor, keeping the spirit of innovation alive in this beloved franchise.
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