Why Mario and Luigi: Dream Team Took So Long To Develop

By Ishaan . July 3, 2013 . 1:40pm

Mario and Luigi: Dream Team has been in development for three years, and it’s because the characters are drawn using 2D sprites rather than 3D models, the game’s developer, AlphaDream, revealed in an Iwata Asks interview.


Development was unusual in that AlphaDream created alpha, beta and even gamma versions prior to locking down on the final product. This was primarily due to the fact that AlphaDream were aiming to achieve a stereoscopic 3D effect using sprites rather than 3D models, and this was easier said than done.


“We worked out special ways of drawing and using color to make them look three-dimensional. The work load was tremendous, but thanks to that, it has the sort of smooth polish distinctive of AlphaDream,” says Akira Otani, a producer at Nintendo.


In particular, larger characters would make the flatness of the sprites stand out. In particular, the game’s bosses contributed to this issue. Furthermore, the amount of work increased substantially when AlphaDream decided not to simply mirror the sprites in the game, and to create unique mirrored sprites for both Mario and Luigi.


“On the Nintendo DS, there were about eight directions, but for the Nintendo 3DS, we made pixel art for 16 directions,” says Hiroyuki Kubota, who was in charge of the game’s script and direction. “What’s more, Luigi’s hat has an L on it, so we couldn’t simply mirror the data.”


Sano adds, “Likewise with Mario, he always raises his left arm when jumping. Simply mirroring him was off the table because the gesture would be backwards.”


All-in-all, it took about five or six people to create Mario and Luigi’s animations alone.


Read more stories about & on Siliconera.

  • KingGunblader

    After Paper Mario: Sticker Star, which was a MASSIVE disappointment (in my opinion), I’d wait forever for this game… but luckily I don’t have to :D

  • ChiffonCake

    Props to them for taking the time and effort to make different sprites depending on the directions asymmetrical characters would face. I don’t think that’s something you see done very often.

  • Nero

    This game is going to be amazing. Also, why do people keep bringing up Paper Mario: Sticker Star? Both are/were developed by different devs.

    • AlteisenX

      Its because Nintendo tried to interfere with development again. Paper Mario Sticker Star lost all originality because Nintendo said “No unique characters” like the previous games. No idea why… but that game was not worth my time I sadly put in it.

      • Nero

        But, AlphaDream said no to most of Nintendo’s suggestions. They wanted to keep it true to the other games in the series.

        • Never

          Source? Or was it in the interview?

          • Guest

            I believe it was mentioned in the interview.

        • $29082171

          Where did they say that?

          • Nero

            In the interview:

            The requests and suggestions by Nintendo on Alpha Dream were not always accepted and often required meetings, or discussions with the SPD producers. Sometimes both parties got annoyed with each other.

          • $29082171

            The interview doesn’t seem to suggest any particular cases, only that they’ve accepted Nintendo’s suggestions sometimes in the course of the entire series and denied others. Nothing about Dream Team.

            Not to mention it wouldn’t make sense as Intelligent Systems doesn’t have anything to do with them or had contact with them. The interview also says that Miyamoto was pleased with their work.

          • Armane

            Miyamoto being “pleased with their work” really doesn’t instil confidence after Sticker Star.

            I’m still pretty sceptical about Dream Team anyway; after Partners In Time and Bowser’s Inside Story didn’t really live up to Superstar Saga.

      • DiosFancifulRomp

        It lost originality because it tried to change the series up? The writing was wittier than ever, the level approach was a great change up from the dungeon romps from Paper Mario 1 & 2, and I really found myself not missing anything from the older games. If you don’t like Sticker Star, that’s fine, but you still have the others to play. I enjoyed the game much more than I enjoyed the first few, and I see the game as a good move to listening to the market, to not making the same game over and over again.

        • AlteisenX

          I don’t think you understand what originality is. They removed party members, they removed those unique NPC’s and the bosses weren’t really memorable. The point was, I wanted a portable Paper Mario like TTYD or the original. The level approach is cliche of Mario and it really took away from the immersion for me. I didn’t feel like I was “in” that world. I would’ve preferred using Pipes to get around again or solve a puzzle to get into X area (not a next level). They didn’t listen to the market because everyone was skeptical of the lack of EXP in an RPG…. So I don’t know where you came up with that idea. There’s simply a lack of “they could’ve done this instead…” feeling all over the game. Do you go to a Toybox area? Nope… you go to cliche Mario worlds. That’s what bugged me.

        • Symbol de Au

          The writing was wittier than ever? Really? Really!? REALLY!?!?!?!?!?

  • Göran Isacson

    Holy hell, all that effort… I’m almost a little sad now. This beautiful gem will, unless they can somehow share what they’ve learned, most likely be the only game using these methods because no one else will be willing to put in the amount of time and effort necessary.

    Also, “gamma build”? Do they essentially mean that they just created a third version before they made their final version, or does gamma build mean something specific game-wise?

    • Alpha and beta are milestones. Each developer has a slightly different idea of what exactly and an alpha build or a beta build would involve, in terms of how “complete” they are, but in general, these are the two widely accepted milestones. Gamma isn’t something you see often at all. I suppose the closest analogy would be an MMO’s “open beta” but even that isn’t quite the same thing.

      • Göran Isacson

        Aah, milestones I have heard of. Although I am now curious if they actually set themselves up for three different milestones and planned all this work from the start, or if that’s just how things turned out as they were developing the game.

  • Laith Rem

    Just for that, for that effort and dedication, I’m buying this game.

    Because this can’t go on unrewarded, nope.

    • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

      Its also a serious RPG

  • AuraGuyChris

    It’d be completely rude NOT to buy this game after reading this.

    We should be blaming Mario for not being ambidextrous and Luigi for having a stupid L letter on his cap! He should’ve been named Tuigi instead!

    • yeah luigi should’ve smacked their mother when she said i will call you luigi =p

  • neo_firenze

    Yeah this game looks incredible. I was already planning to pick it up, but now I’m even more excited. I’ll always prefer a quality 2D sprite to a 3D model, and seeing this level of effort just warms my heart.

  • Thom

    I have to believe that I’m not alone with this opinion: I haven’t played a Mario game since Mario 64,but after E3 and before with the endless zombie games and space marines versus zombie games I decided to give Nintendo another shot. Got a 3DS mainly for SMT IV but also got Luigi’s Mansion which was incredible. Really excited for this too. You definitely can’t say that Nintendo is in a creative lull.

  • Musashi234

    God I cant wait for this game The Mario & Luigi Saga is F**king awesome =D!

  • Rytan

    I was considering on passing by this game, but now… dang, gotta have it!

  • MegaOverclocked

    I just hope it’s longer than Bowser’s Inside Story.

  • just like others i was already planning on getting it but after reading this and seeing such dedication i can’t say no to this game

  • TheHolypopeofgaming

    Top Screen shot: Luigi Katamari?

  • darryl scott

    Wow so much hard work… at first I really wasent a big fan of the m&l games… but now becoming a future game developer and first hand seeing how hard it is to make all the animation to sprites… I’M buying this games now period.

  • XiaomuArisu

    I salute you AlphaDream!
    I hope your dream will be as good as Luigi´s

  • komiko12

    Lol. The freakin’ L on Luigi’s hat complicated matters.

Video game stories from other sites on the web. These links leave Siliconera.

Siliconera Tests
Siliconera Videos