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Paper Mario: Color Splash - devs on utilizing familiar characters in interesting ways

A portion of a USGamer interview with Nintendo's Risa Tabata

USG: Another big change that the series implemented with Sticker Star was, instead of having a lot of unique original characters in the game, it focused more on Mario and Toad and Bowser, whereas the previous games had a lot of weird NPCs that accompanied Mario. And I see that's continued, or seems to be continued, with this.

Tabata: So, I wasn't really involved with the previous title, so I'll just talk about this one. But I think one thing is that because this is taking place within the greater Mario world, we wanted to focus as much as possible on the familiar Mario characters. All Toads, right? It's just a bunch of Toads. So, we had to think, if it's all Toads, how do we make them distinct and give them personality? So, one thing we thought, so, the basic Toad is red, and if they have something different about them, we'll change the color. And of course, a lot of the personality comes out in text. And so, you can also use the fact that they all look alike as the basis for jokes. So, one thing we're going to focus on, because we have all those limits, obviously, we're using all these familiar characters, is: How do we create variety, and how do we create interest?

Categories: Interviews, Consoles
Tags: eshop, wii-u, mario

Comments

Top Rated Comment
shmuga9
Mon Sep 05 16 03:39pm
Rating: 8

...we wanted to focus as much as possible on the familiar Mario characters...

...because we have all those limits... How do we create variety, and how do we create interest?

Self-imposed limits. She makes it sound like they were forced to do that, and had to work within the system. When in reality she created the system and is trying to justify why they're keeping (in this case) original characters out.

The interviews with her on this game have shown just how awful of a direction this game is going in. "We decided to remove [the good parts] and focus on the puzzle-solving instead" meanwhile the puzzles in this game so far are mind-numbingly easy to a kindergartner. So how does the change benefit the player/customer if the one segment you're apparently focusing on is bad or worse than before? If you're going to make a hard change, whatever you're focusing on instead has to make up for what you lost.

gerjet
Mon Sep 05 16 03:14pm
Rating: 2

Or short: Lazyness - there were tons of Toads in previous Paper Mario and their uniqueness made them rememberable (I have still the opinion that T.(utorial) Tanja was the original Toadette)

kobobkc
Mon Sep 05 16 06:00pm
Rating: 1

I wouldn't say it's laziness. They literally can't make unique Toads because Miyamoto won't let them.

shmuga9
Mon Sep 05 16 03:39pm
Rating: 8

...we wanted to focus as much as possible on the familiar Mario characters...

...because we have all those limits... How do we create variety, and how do we create interest?

Self-imposed limits. She makes it sound like they were forced to do that, and had to work within the system. When in reality she created the system and is trying to justify why they're keeping (in this case) original characters out.

The interviews with her on this game have shown just how awful of a direction this game is going in. "We decided to remove [the good parts] and focus on the puzzle-solving instead" meanwhile the puzzles in this game so far are mind-numbingly easy to a kindergartner. So how does the change benefit the player/customer if the one segment you're apparently focusing on is bad or worse than before? If you're going to make a hard change, whatever you're focusing on instead has to make up for what you lost.

So... they couldn't make amiibos so they're not doing new characters? :p

Hah! This is the Paper Mario team, not the Animal Crossing one :P

vinnyboiler
Mon Sep 05 16 03:49pm
Rating: 2

How do you know it's not a higher up executive idea to unify each Mario brand by only using the same cast?

It would make sense given how each Mario RPG has a different set of characters prior to this generation, and suddenly each game in this genre has the same cast now.

I could believe this. It would be easier to make merchandise when your different characters are just palette swapped Toads.

Remember when this was a thing that happened? u_u

It was cool that... at some point, the main Mario games kinda tried to make the RPG characters canon.... and... then just forgot about it after Mario Party 5 :1

shmuga9
Mon Sep 05 16 05:12pm
Rating: 3

That's possible, but as easy as it is to blame corporate overlords, I doubt that's 100% of the case (and the characters are just one issue).

I really hope that idea/model of sticking to the same old cast bites Nintendo back hard. I'm getting really sick of it. All it does is make me want to play their games LESS because they have no personality or defining traits to set themselves apart. I think Arlo put it best in his Pikmin 3DS video where he says (paraphrasing), "Nintendo expects us to buy their games regardless, simply because character X is slapped on the cover."

They were forced to do it though. Miyamoto directed them to only use Super Mario characters in Sticker Star, and that's obviously continuing here.

Creating original characters is one of the main strengths of Intelligent Systems. They wouldn't just decide it's not a good idea anymore, unless they got some mandate from higher up about the property they're being allowed to use.

shmuga9
Mon Sep 05 16 05:00pm
Rating: 2

It's possible, but I'm also not willing to shift the blame 100% to Miyamoto as that's too easy and likely not the entire case. I'm pretty sure Super Paper Mario was their idea, yet that shifted away from its roots too, so it's not like some precedent hasn't been set before Miyamoto's involvement.

All I can hope is that Nintendo was trying to push out another game quickly and the next one will be what we want, but I'm not going to lull myself into false hope.

My theory is M.iyamoto saw that they suddenly had two Mario RPGs with Paper Mario and Mario&Luigi and thought it superfluous to keep developing both side by side. Naturally (and this is still conjecture) he chose Mario&Luigi to stay as the RPG series... for a lot of reasons. The biggest was probably... well, first let me state that Miyamoto has been on record stating he does not like traditional RPGs. His discription of playing them was he feels like someone has tied your fingers together and they are slowly untying them one at a time. It's why timed hits were added and then a few more stuff in Paper Mario and finally M&L have really stepped up the real-time action parts in a turn-basee rpg. I'd guess he sees this as the right path to take to make RPGs fun, as far as his standards go. I'd also say that Miyamoto saw Paper Mario had already experimented with Super Paper Mario so it was natural to keep experimenting. It might be why he tea-tabled Sticker Star.... redefining the Paper Mario brand as not Paper storybook RPGs... but literal, living Papercraft gameplay stuff.

Going even deeper into the theory, I wonder if Paper Jam was meant to be symbolic of Paper Mario passing the RPG torch to M&L

I loved those five sentai Toads trailers. There were absolutely awesome and personified a lot of what I came to love about the series.

The five sentai Toads prove that they can make the Toads be full of personality. However, I cant say that I dont miss original characters in the rpgs (including mario & luigi). The rpgs are/were the games where we saw most original characters. Still I will give these toads a chance.

Also its funny that the koopalings went from not being seen since World to being in every mario game possible.

ridleysaria
Mon Sep 05 16 05:28pm
Rating: 1

There's no reason they can't have original characters AND characters like the sentai Toads. Eh, whatever. I lost interest in the Mario RPGs a long time ago.

Game is looking good, I just want it now so shut up & take my money Nin!

Not really fair that mainline Mario games can create original characters and RPG's can't :p

I will say that they really nailed the art style this time around.

cm30
Mon Sep 05 16 07:41pm
Rating: 2

Only Toads? Oh, you mean you don't know about the Bob-omb Buddies, Penguins, Ukiki, Piantas, Nokis, Tanookis, Sunflowers, Lumas, Gearmos, Whittles, Bees, Sprixies, Plessie or absolutely anyone else who acts as an NPC (but isn't a Toad).

Yeah, this person needs to play some more Mario games in general.

I'm sorry, but this is not why I play Paper Mario. I mean, trying new things is fine, but people have basic expectations as to what a Paper Mario game should be like, and they've been completely betrayed.

Besides, even if you somehow support Nintendo's new direction here, you have to admit that they're needlessly limiting themselves from reaching their full potential.

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