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Devs celebrate Mario's 25th birthday

Inafune and Kojima pay tribute, and Miyamoto reveals venerable IP was almost a shooter

The games industry continues to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Mario's first appearance. A special feature in Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu sees key developers discuss what is arguably gaming's most enduring brand.

In an interview with the magazine, translated by 1-Up, Miyamoto discusses how the idea for Mario came about, and how some of the more unusual concepts made it into the final game.

"It wasn't an idea that just came out of the blue. It was the culmination of a variety of factors. First, we had a lot of technical know-how built up from games like Excitebike and Kung Fu," Miyamoto told readers.

"Second, the Disk System was coming out shortly, so I wanted to make a game that would put a final exclamation point on that era of cartridge games. Third, I wanted to build upon our tradition of what we called 'athletic games' at the time - games where you controlled a guy and had to jump a lot to overcome obstacles. We felt strongly about how we were the first to come up with that genre, and it was a goal of ours to keep pushing it."

The developer also revealed that originally Mario shot bullets instead of fireballs, and was to ride a cloud in a side-scrolling shoot-'em-up section.

"During much of development, the controls were A for shoot bullets, B to dash, and up on the control pad to jump. The bullets wound up becoming fireballs later - we originally thought about having a shoot-'em-up stage where Mario jumps on a cloud and shoots at enemies, but we dropped it because we wanted to focus on jumping action.

"The sky-based bonus stages are the remnants of that idea, you could say. In the end, we realized that being able to shoot all the fireballs you want while running gave Mario too much of an advantage, so instead we had it so you shoot only one fireball when you start running. That freed up the A button, and we made that the jump button. I really wanted to have A be the action button and make you press up to jump, but it definitely worked out better for Mario in the end."

Elsewhere in the magazine, various industry figures paid tribute to Mario, and the inspiration it had given them in their own careers. Andriasang translated the comments.

Keiji Inafune , head of development at Cacpom, said, "The reason I entered the industry was because I encountered Mario and learned how interesting games can be. Thank you, Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto."

Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima made no secret of his admiration for Miyamoto and his creation, calling Super Mario Bros. the 'Mario Big Bang'.

"Shigeru Miyamoto's Super Mario Bros. changed the future not just of games, but for all of entertainment, and for myself as well."

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