Super Mario 64 is arguably one of the best games of all time, not only due to how fun it is but also because of the technological leap it represented for the platforming genre. According to a document included in the recent “Gigaleak,” however, this monumental project took less than two years of actual development.
This discovery was first shared by Twitter user ecumber, who tweeted a screenshot of a text file that appears to detail the development period of Super Mario 64 for copyright purposes. The Nintendo 64 launch title’s “Period of Creation,” the document reads, started on September 7, 1994 and lasted until May 20, 1996, which was one month before the game’s June 23 release in Japan. All told? 622 days.
The text file also suggests that work on an additional revision took place over another 15 days, spanning from July 15, 1996 to July 29; one might assume this was preparing Super Mario 64 for its September 29 release in North America.
Of course, that’s not the whole story. Super Mario 64 director Shigeru Miyamoto has previously stated in a Nintendo Power interview that conceptual work on a three-dimensional Mario game began during the development of 1993’s Star Fox for the Super Nintendo. Once the project got off the ground, Miyamoto explained, a full year was spent just on “design work” before actual development of the game itself started in earnest.
It’s probably a safe bet to say that Super Mario 64 took about three years from start to finish, depending on your definitions for terms like “work” and “development.” That may seem paltry in today’s industry, when blockbusters like The Last of Us Part II can take upward of six years to get out the door, but I can’t help but be impressed that Nintendo created this genre-defining game in even that amount of time. And I suppose that’s one of the best parts of the Gigaleak: a greater appreciation for the work that goes into developing some of our favorite games.