Back in the day, you might have wondered: Hey, why does Mario take damage when he bumps into a Goomba in the original Super Mario Bros.? Turns out, Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto had an answer: The enemies were biting you. We just never actually saw that happen. Well, that changes in the soon-to-be-released Super Mario Bros. Wonder.
In the latest installment of Nintendo’s ongoing web series, Ask the Developer, the folks behind Wonder answered some wide-ranging questions about the upcoming Switch-exclusive platformer. They revealed that it wasn’t really influenced by the movie, that it was developed differently than past Mario games, and the strange work that goes into making 3D models look good in a precise 2D side-scroller. It’s really interesting stuff! But perhaps my favorite bit to come out of the first two parts of this long Ask the Developer is the backstory on why Goombas bite Mario and other characters when they get close.
According to Wonder’s art director, Masanobu Sato, he once heard someone explain that when Miyamoto was asked why Mario takes damage after bumping into a Goomba in the original game, he answered, “It’s because the Goombas bite him.”
However, as pointed out by Wonder’s director, Shiro Mouri, even if that was what was happening, due to “hardware limitations” back then the game couldn’t show that detail. Super Mario Bros. Wonder producer Takashi Tezuka, who has been working on Mario games for nearly four decades, further explained that was why Koopa Troopas turned around to face Mario when you bumped into them in the NES classic.
“We tried to express them biting the player by making them turn around,” said Tezuka.
“But now we are able to show those expressions,” said Sato.
The devs say that in Wonder, the moment a Goomba does damage to Mario a small animation is triggered that shows the iconic enemy biting the plumber (or whichever other character the player is using.)
“Yes, and when they bite you, they’ll do it with a smile on their face!” added Sato.
I highly recommend reading the full interview as it reveals more behind-the-scenes information about how the game was developed and where all its wacky ideas come from.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder hits the Nintendo Switch on October 20, though copies have leaked out into the wild, so be careful of spoilers.
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