Super Mario 3D Land director talks merging old and new Mario

Super Mario 3D Land is one of the best-reviewed 3DS games yet, thanks to its successful merging of old-school 2D Mario gameplay with 3D enhancements. Now game director Koichi Hayashida has shared thoughts on the crossroads of the two Mario styles, from suits to stages.

"We felt that there was something missing in the evolution of Mario gaming between Super Mario World and Super Mario 64," Hayashida said. "This feeling gave us the idea that we could create something interesting by applying 2D Mario rules to the 3D Mario know-how that we had accumulated."

"The fundamental question that we start with is 'what type of gameplay do we want to create?'" Hayashida told IGN in a series of interviews. "We created a test in which Bowser blows flames from in front of the character in 3D space, and we liked it, so we decided that we wanted to have Bowser appear multiple times."

He says the inclusion of the Koopalings seemed like a natural fit for a game with the Tanooki suit, and Mario's Boomerang suit came from wanting to give the player Pom Pom's abilities. The Tanooki suit was de-powered a bit, not allowing full flight, because "when you can fly anywhere in a 3D space, a lot of problems come up."

And while long-time Mario fans might find the first half of the game too easy, Hayashida says that "more skilled players" should "think of the completion of the special worlds as the true ending." If you complete every challenge the game has to offer, your saved game file will show five stars at the top. "Please try to see if you can get the maximum number," he said.