Shigeru Miyamoto has revealed that Mario's ability to jump was introduced only because of a chance hardware configuration, in the latest in the ongoing series of "Iwata Asks" interviews conducted by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata.
Newly translated into English, the multi-part interview discusses the origins of Mario, beginning with the creation of the Donkey Kong coin-op. Miyamoto reveals that originally the main character, which would later become known as the iconic Mario, could not jump and the ability was only added because of a spare button on the arcade board being used for the game.
"I also recall that the cabinet we were making the game for had one joystick and one button, but initially I intended it to be controlled using only the joystick," says Miyamoto.
The wide-ranging interview also focuses on new title New Super Mario Bros. Wii, with Miyamoto describing how he attempted to recreate the "smell" of the previous games.
The use of the word does not appear to be a translation error, with even Iwata apparently confused by the usage. "I think that when something summons forth a lot of emotions, what you feel is perhaps something like a 'smell'", says Miyamoto.
"I wanted to make Mario so that it had its own distinctive 'smell' - a Mario-esque 'smell', continues Miyamoto. "I wanted to create something that stimulated as many of the five senses as it could. If you can do that, then when you get the game out to play from time to time, it really makes you happy."
In another revealing passage Miyamoto also discusses his theories on game difficulty, stating his belief that being forced to repeat part of a level after dying is a necessary part of the experience - despite the inclusion of the new Super Guide feature to aid less skilled players.
"So even if you slip up just before clearing the castle, you'll be sent right back to the starting point. Maybe this is all due to my nasty streak!" comments Miyamoto with a laugh. "But I think playing at that level of intensity is actually the most enjoyable way to play."
"With platform games, only playing the difficult parts can really take it out of you. It feels good to play parts that you can breeze through as well," he explains to Iwata.
"I think replaying the levels is the correct way to enjoy an action game. That's something that I'm quite particular about," states Miyamoto.
"It's become commonplace to assume that as games continue to develop, they will steadily become more clearly divided between games for very skilled players and games for beginners," added Iwata, who said that Nintendo is still strongly motivated to make "games for everyone".
It's important to make games players can enjoy together, regardless of their abilities, he explained. But it's something other people don't seem to discuss, perhaps because they consider it unfeasible.
"I am very serious when it comes to making games for everyone and this is something, Miyamoto-san, which you and I have been talking about constantly for over a decade," he said.
"The impression I get is that with Mario, which is in no sense an easy type of game for such a purpose, you have actually gone and done it - you've made a 'game for everyone'."