After a game is finished and released, it’s always interesting to get a glimpse into what might have been, had not someone in the development process spoken up at just the right moment.
Early in development, Super Mario Galaxy 2 contained a number of ideas that didn’t make the final cut. One such idea was to feature Pikmin or Donkey Kong in cameos. Speaking to GameTrailers at this year’s Game Developers Conference, Super Mario Galaxy 2 director Koichi Hayashida explained that Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto, a producer on the game, shot down the idea early on. The reasons, Hayashida explained, had in large part to do with art styles of the properties simply not meshing well.
“In the Pikmin games, you’ll notice that all the Pikmin are very thin – tall and narrow for their frame,” Hayashida explained. “Mario enemies tend to be on the short and squat side and there’s a functional reason for that. They’re easier to stomp on. They’re lower so you can get above them and broader so you can land on them. In that sense, Pikmin are just not well suited for the Mario universe.”
Miyamoto’s dismissal forced the Mario Galaxy 2 team to “focus on the functional again.”
Drawing the game back to its fundamental self worked out well for the title. Scrapping other series’ cameos seems to have been the right call. But does that mean the idea is dead forever, or could crossovers come in a future game? When asked if Donkey Kong could ever again make an appearance in a core Mario game, Hayashida hedged, but ultimately seemed negative.
“If we encountered a situation with a proper gameplay context, we would consider it,” Hayashida said. “Let’s say if we were building a level and functionally it called for someone to throw barrels at you, then Donkey Kong would be appropriate.”
“But now that I think about it, maybe we have a situation where, at the end of Super Mario 3D Land, Bowser throws fireballs at you from the end of the stage. And we didn’t use Donkey Kong there… so…”
It seems likely, then, that Donkey Kong’s barrel-throwing ways are unlikely to take Princess Peach away from Mario’s not-so-safe embrace anytime soon.