Wonder is the first 2D Mario game since New Super Mario Bros. U in 2012 and appears to introduce the most significant changes to the classic formula since the 1990s, with a striking new art style and ‘Wonder’ mechanic which transforms stages in surprising ways.
Speaking in the latest issue of Game Informer, which is available to purchase now, series producer Takashi Tezuka – who’s worked on every Mario game since the 1985 original – explained that Nintendo intentionally brought in a lot of younger developers to help shape the franchise’s latest reinvention.
“When looking at creating a new Mario, we actually went ahead and brought in a lot of younger people into our staff,” he said. “They’re, of course, developers, but they’re also people who enjoy playing games, and so they wanted to create something that they themselves would enjoy as players. We got a lot of different ideas and different thoughts from as many people as we could within that group.”
The feedback from the newer team members led to Tezuka and Mouri making bigger changes to the core Mario formula, the pair said. That includes removing the in-course timer and score system, letting players stomp enemies underwater, and starting back in the stage after losing a life.
Mouri credited many of the innovations to these newer developers, saying that they could more easily recognise where the franchise needed to change.
“The thing about developers who are new is that they’re not too preoccupied with ‘It was this way, so we must do it this way’,” Mouri said. “I think that there’s a good side to that in that we can really hear their opinions and feedback and really re-evaluate and think what kinds of changes and what kinds of adjustments we want to make to each of those gameplay experiences.”
Another significant feature Wonder introduces includes online ghosts of other players when connected to the internet. Although players can’t directly interfere with ghost players’ games, they can interact in some way by reviving them when they die, giving them power-ups, or placing standees to help revive them.
The game also has a new system where players can collect and equip Badges to gain new abilities during gameplay. These include a Wall-Climb Jump badge (to make wall-jumping better), the Dolphin Kick badge (to swim faster) and the Grappling Vine badge (to shoot vines in mid-air and stick to walls).
Super Mario Wonder will be released for Nintendo Switch on October 20.