Mario creator and Ubisoft CEO on what makes Nintendo and Ubisoft such a good fit.
E3 is a show about spectacle. From pounding music to 30-foot statues to even pyrotechnics, publishers and developers want to make sure their latest news makes a splash by making it memorable. But despite the stunts and bright lights at every turn, one of the week’s most extraordinary moments came as two men simply stood next to each other: Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto.
The pair appeared together on Ubisoft’s stage on Monday, joining to announce Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, a new crossover strategy game that will appear on Switch this fall. The announcement continues a long streak of Ubisoft appearing on new Nintendo platforms shortly after launch, a partnership that both sides have emphasized for over a decade.
After the announcement, IGN had the chance to speak with Guillemot and Miyamoto together about why this partnership is still such a priority for both sides, plus how the Mario and Rabbids collaboration first took shape.
“I’ve known Yves for 25 years and we’ve worked a lot together,” Miyamoto told IGN. “And in recent years, even some of the software that Ubisoft has put out has been pretty early in the hardware’s life cycle, and as collaborators we often have worked together. And a lot of times you see Mario guest star in maybe a different franchise or a different game for other companies, but we realized we haven’t done that with Ubisoft.”
Nintendo is a reference in terms of creating the best games on the planet.
For Ubisoft, Nintendo is a valuable partner not only because of new hardware, but as creative inspiration. “Nintendo is a reference in terms of creating the best games on the planet,” Guillemot said. “And Mr. Miyamoto is a person that is inventing lots of new ways to play. So for us, collaborating with Nintendo is something, for all the creators at Ubisoft, it’s the grail, I would say. So they were very excited when they saw that Mr. Miyamoto would be actually happy to work with us to create a game.”
“It is a great honor to be able to work in Mario’s world, and to be able to understand all the care Nintendo is putting on that character and environment,” he added. “For us, we like very much Nintendo’s philosophy of bringing enjoyment to all the people that play their games, and we like the way they bring it to the market, so it’s very close our philosophy. So we saw that in working on a game together, we could really create something that would really be new for the market because of the characters, but with the same goal, which is to bring something fun with humor and that will be a strategy and really interesting to play.”
Miyamoto agrees, similarly pointing out a shared philosophy of accessibility between the two companies. “Ubisoft is a company that really understands the Nintendo hardware and also understands the Nintendo customer,” he pointed out. “And they’re a company that is able to produce products similar to what Nintendo would put out. So in that sense, I think it would be fun to be able to work on more projects like this.”
It is a great honor to be able to work on Mario’s world.
For Guillemot, part of the excitement of working with Nintendo is that they bring something new to the table. He sees it as an exciting chance to be in on the ground floor for something that changes the way people think about the industry.
“Nintendo always came with something [disruptive],” Guillemot added. “It’s changing the market. It’s really bringing something that will help gamers to have a better experience. It’s funny, when they came with the Wii, we were at that time making lots of research on accessibility. And when we saw Wii, it was answering exactly the question we were searching for. So we jumped on the Wii as soon as we saw the machine, because we said, ‘that’s all the answers that we were looking for.’”
“And what they brought with the Switch is also the mobility that doesn’t exist on console, and when we saw that, again we said, ‘those guys are geniuses and they understand what gamers want and they bring it to the market,’” he continued. “So we have to, again, jump with the company and create new types of experiences using those capacities.”
I think a lot of people feel that I’m very strict and stringent on the use of Mario, but I’m actually pretty open.
Once the partnership was in place, deciding exactly what a collaboration between Mario and Rayman would look like brought some creative challenges for the team, and even for Miyamoto. “Originally we thought even if, for example, Mario was in a game like Rayman and he was jumping around, it wouldn’t be very fun,” he explained. “And so we decided that it’s important to have a game that’s very original.”
“In coming up with this game, the producers from the development side at Nintendo and the producers from Ubisoft were able to work together, and a little bit of trial and error, to make this game great,” he added. “When we saw the game and quality and the fun increase incrementally, I really felt like that back and forth we were able to have between Nintendo and Ubisoft worked out really well. It was a great experience for both parties, I think.”
According to Miyamoto, the humor and style of Ryman is something that felt unique for Mario, and an opportunity to try something new that he felt was worth exploring. “I think a lot of people feel that I’m very strict and stringent on the use of Mario, but I’m actually pretty open,” he admitted. “And I’m always interested in new ideas, and this idea for the collaboration for Mario and Rabbids was something that I was interested in.”
“I’ve seen the animation and the graphics of Rabbids, and the humor that they have was something I was really interested in. And so I thought that this collaboration could work well,” he explained. “It’s a territory that Mario hasn’t been able to step into yet, and I really enjoy the collaboration. It’s great to see Mario be able to kind of be engaged in that kind of humor. I love the part where Peach takes off her wig and just throws it down. I think it’s hilarious.”
I think Ubisoft really understands Mario as a character and knowing that really gave me peace of mind.
Miyamoto’s only initial concern was the idea of Mario using weapons, which happens frequently in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. But once the specifics were ironed out, he felt comfortable in trusting Ubisoft as a partner. “I think Ubisoft really understands Mario as a character and knowing that really gave me peace of mind, and I was able to really trust that they would do this game right,” he said. “All we did was try to think of ways to make this game fun. And that in doing so, dedicating ourselves to doing so, I think the worldview of Mario is kept intact. It was a very fun process.”
Guillemot is excited about the project, not only because of the creative input from Mr. Miyamoto, but because of the unique capabilities of the Switch itself. “For us it’s also the fact that our games will be able to be played at home and outside. That is something that is going to make video games more popular to a larger audience,” he said. “So, we think that having the Rabbids and Mario in the game with a different perspective and different way of creating will help the Rabbids to get better known, and also to bring this experience everywhere. That’s what we like the most. Being able to play anywhere with that game is going to be fantastic for everyone and for the video game industry.”
“We tried to create a new style of game, a new genre of game, and although it does have turn-based strategy elements, it also has the right amount of action elements in it,” Miyamoto said. “It really is fun to be able to play in your hands in portable mode and then just plop it in to be able to play it on the big screen. So it really is a fun experience.”
Andrew is IGN’s executive editor of news and hopes they make a Kirby rabbid. You can find him rambling about Persona and cute animals on Twitter.
Source: IGN Video Games