The lack of a bona fide Super Mario title on Nintendo's 3DS handheld is about change this Sunday thanks to the release of Super Mario 3D Land, which promises to be much more in the vein of the classic NES Mario titles than the recent entries helmed by Mario all-father Shigeru Miyamoto.
Interestingly, Miyamoto himself wasn't the driving force behind Super Mario 3D Land despite its obvious homages to Super Mario 3. Make no mistake, the upcoming title was born of a desire to bring a new 3D Mario game to the new platform, but this time it came from a certain Koichi Hayashida from the console giant's Tokyo Software Development Department.
Hayashida and his team had worked on 3D Mario games (of the non-stereoscopic kind) since Super Mario Sunshine on the GameCube all the way up to the recent Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the Wii. Since that time they've noticed a sort of divide that formed in the community between 2D and 3D Mario fans, so the idea behind Super Mario 3D Land was to better bridge this gap between the two camps. And hell, throw in stereoscopic 3D visuals while they're at it since this is the 3DS after all. According to Hayashida himself, Super Mario 3D Land could be seen as another opportunity to springboard Mario fans into Nintendo's current 3D platforming titles:
We strongly feel that 3D Super Mario is fun and want more people to experience that. (laughs) So this time, even more so than with Super Mario Galaxy 2, we decided that we wanted to make a 3D Super Mario game so it can be an entranceway, as an introduction to all the 3D Super Mario games we made before.
Bridging the gulf between 2D and 3D Super Mario titles could be as simple as returning that good ol' goal pole that Mario used to grab and slide from right before the end of the level, as a means of bringing back the criteria to complete it. Indeed, "reaching the goal pole" would eventually dictate much of Super Mario 3D Land's level design, a big change from searching for a star somewhere in the level like in the recent 3D Mario titles. Not to worry, the more explorative gamers will still be rewarded for their efforts in the form of Star Medals they can find hidden throughout the levels.
Miyamoto himself approved of Hayashida's ideas, acknowledging that the goal pole would not only make a great throwback to the classic Super Mario titles, but in itself could be something they could fool around with.