Mario was Put in Punch-Out Without Permission

Illustration for article titled Mario was Put in Punch-Out Without Permission

The latest "Iwata Asks" bull session regards Punch-Out!!! - the NES original, not the Wii sequel - and it's quite revealing. Especially when designer Makoto Wada (pictured) pipes up.

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Wada-san, who came aboard Nintendo right around the time the Punch-Out!!! port for the NES was being created, spills two interesting details. The first is that he created Mario as the game's referee without permission. It was just accepted.

Satoru Iwata: You could get away with a lot then. (laughs)
Shigeru Miyamoto: We didn't have an approval system when using Mario images back then and it went right past my check. (laughs)
Wada: That's why it is a slightly strange looking Mario.

The second tidbit - it sounds like he's describing a protip/easter egg that no one's known, for 22 years.

Wada: This is a great opportunity, so I have something I'd like to say. In Punch-Out!!, the game gives you a lot of hints about effective timing of punches. There is a big boxer called Bald Bull in the NES version as well and a light flashes to the right in the audience when he charges. If you punch when it flashes you will land a body blow.
Tanabe: What? Really?
Wada: No one has known about that for about 22 years…
Everyone: (laughter)
Wada: I was wondering when I would have a chance to tell people that.
Iwata: You've been holding that information for 22 years since the release. (laughs)
Wada: Now that I had the chance. (laughs) There are a lot of hidden elements in the NES version.

I do know the first time you face Bald Bull in that game, you take him out with a one-punch body blow during his charge. In fact, it's the only way to stop his charging. But I never timed it to any crowd camera flashes. Weird.

The rest of the discussion is a great read on the development of the franchise, and other early 1980s games at Nintendo.

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Iwata Asks: Punch-Out!!! [Wii.com]

DISCUSSION

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gold163 (° д° )

Tanabe: "I think that the basic elements that make games fun or exciting don't change regardless of how many years have passed. However, as games have gotten more and more complicated and when a lot of games have lost sight of simple fun experience, I think a game like this feels even fresher. Things that are fun are still fun no matter how much time passes. "

I agree with this, but I think it kind of shows how archaic Nintendo's line of thinking might be. I understand that he's not saying "simple fun experience" like he means that a game that's more complex can't be as fun as a simple game, but when it boils down to it, you see a lot of Nintendo games operating under this line of thinking. I personally like it, and I feel it's what distinguishes Nintendo games from other games these days. When I play Super Mario Galaxy or Punch-Out Wii, sure, there's the element of nostalgia working in the game's favor, but it's also that the games are simple yet extremely fun in their design that makes them approachable by any audience. It's hard to find a developer like that nowadays, and I really appreciate what these guys have done for the industry.

I don't quite think it's time for them to step down (but my god, Miyamoto's aged), but I DO think that this sort of "simple is best" is kind of restricting. Games are getting more complex, and these guys definitely understand and acknowledge that. What I don't understand is why Nintendo doesn't do more to recognize this in the design of their consoles. It's fine when you design a game to be simple, but I'll be the first to admit that the Wii has a lot of shortcomings, and I love my Wii. But, there are plenty of times when I wish that the Wii had a network service like PSN or Live, and there are plenty of times when I wish that the Wii could output at HD resolutions and process more intensive, technologically robust games. Remember when one of the former presidents (I don't exactly remember who) basically said that, "gamers don't want online games, online multiplayer games are bad"? And this was what, shortly after people started getting into unified network services such as Xbox Live and realizing how great they could be.

Bottom line is, I wouldn't say that Nintendo is necessarily obsolete, but I do think that they might be a bit stubborn in their methods, and I think that it needs to change. Of course, nothing I say is going to stop the insane Wii storm. Nintendo probably knows this. I mean, I was just constantly reminded of this when reading the interview.

This interview was great. Really made me think about games, their design.