The next mainline 2D Mario game, Super Mario Bros. Wonder, looks fantastic, shaking up the franchise’s formula with new powers, worlds, and enemies. In particular, one new power that turns Mario into an elephant became quite popular online. However, at first Mario’s creator Shigeru Miyamoto, wasn’t a fan of the odd transformation.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder, out later this October on Nintendo Switch, looks, well…wonderful! The game features a new, revamped art style that looks 10x better than the New Super Mario Bros. games’, and is filled with new ideas and gameplay mechanics, including Elden Ring-like multiplayer features and a huge roster of playable heroes: Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Blue Toad, Yellow Toad, Toadette, and Nabbit. But perhaps the most talked-about new additions to the Mario formula are the new power-ups, including one that turns Nintendo’s plumber into a large pachyderm. Apparently Miyamoto had some…thoughts about Elephant Mario during development.
In an August 31 interview with IGN, Super Mario Bros. Wonder director Shiro Mouri and producer Takashi Tezuka explained that during production of the game, Miyamoto did provide feedback and notes, but he wasn’t in their “hip pocket” all the time “whispering” in their ears.
“Sometimes he would come by where we are working and look at things and give some opinions,” said Tezuka. “He would generally observe things and make comments here and there.”
However, according to Mouri, Miyamoto did have a problem with Elephant Mario, at first.
“It was a phase where we still had tentative visuals for Elephant Mario, and we had plans to adjust the visuals already,” said Mouri. “But he had come and taken a look before that and he gave us the sharp comment that ‘This doesn’t look like a Mario character.’”
According to Mouri, Mario’s dad also took issue with how Elephant Mario sprays water from his trunk, saying that “if an elephant was actually spraying water, it wouldn’t move that way.”
I like to imagine that Miyamoto comes home and spends hours watching elephants in the wild via documentaries and old videos on the internet, closely studying their moves. And finally, all that hard work paid off. Good for him.
In a separate Thursday interview with Wired, Mouri and Tezuka explained that the idea for Elephant Mario came from the desire to create a power-up for the famous plumber that would make him big and able to shoot water. Elephant was the natural choice.
However, when they wanted to let Mario dig underground, they didn’t go with a “mole Mario,” as they wanted him to be able to also take out enemies above him. So naturally they did what anyone else would in that scenario, and slapped a working drill on Mario’s head. I can only assume what Miyamoto thought about that.
Tezuka also pushed back on the idea that Mario games can’t change or evolve, telling Wired he asks his team to come up with wild ideas and not to worry about rules or limits.
“I do think people have ideas that Mario [games have] to be a certain way. There are certain limitations that people have in their own brains,” Tezuka said. “If you think it looks cool, it’s going to be fun. Do it.”
Super Mario Bros. Wonder—and all of its wild power-ups—launches on October 20 on Nintendo Switch.