The new version of Super Mario RPG was released today, and it’s good news! It’s a great game! We reviewed it saying that the game “is considered a classic for a reason, and this fantastic remake makes it easy for anyone who missed it in the SNES era to see why.” While we disagreed with some outlets, the The vast majority of critics seem to like it very much.
So, since it’s a great remake of a classic game with not a whiff of controversy or trouble about it, there’s absolutely no reason for its publisher, Nintendo, to be weird or cagey about who actually made it, right?
mistake! It was Nintendo Very strange Apparently basic information about who developed Super Mario RPG Remake was revealed months ago, and there’s no clear reason why.
Who developed it?
Here’s what happened. A Super Mario RPG remake was announced in a Nintendo Direct earlier this year. In the initial announcement, there was no indication of the identity of the development studio – just a copyright notice indicating that the property is owned by Nintendo and Square Enix. This in itself wasn’t unusual, as a lot of trailers like it, especially in Nintendo Directs, don’t include this information. The game’s official Nintendo Store page listed Nintendo as the publisher, but again, these pages do not list the developers. Not a big deal.
But what’s strange is the foolish and cautious way Nintendo has chosen to handle this information as we get closer and closer to launch. A few weeks ago, I saw several threads about online speculation about the identity of the studio – could it be Griso? Camelot? A group of rehired AlphaDream developers? Nobody seems to know. So I did the fairly obvious thing a journalist would do in this situation and reached out to Nintendo and Square Enix to find out the answer. It was very easy for either of them to reply to my email and say, “Hey, thanks for your question. It was a joint effort between Nintendo’s internal studios and ArtePiazza.” basic. No problem. Wipe it off immediately.
Screenshots from Super Mario RPG
But this did not happen. Instead, Square Enix told me to ask Nintendo, and Nintendo asked me to wait until the game finished and checked the credits. Notably, even though IGN had the game to review, all of that information was locked behind those credits — there was no ArtePiazza logo on the splash screen when I booted the game, nothing. The general public only discovered it because someone was able to find it written in very small letters in a copyright notice on a website Below the Japanese pre-order download page. Barring that, the ban on discussing the game’s credits would have prevented anyone reviewing the game from listing the literal co-creator of that game anywhere in their reviews.
Art in the square
So, I don’t know, this is information that Nintendo has been very secretive about, I think! Super Mario RPG Remake was directed by Ayako Moriwaki, who was also an assistant director on Pikmin 4 and worked on level design for Yoshi’s Crafted World. Art direction came from Shintaro Majima at ArtePiazza, who was also the art director for the Romancing SaGa 3 remaster and Dragon Quest Builders, among many others. Nintendo’s Taro Kudo was the event emcee after serving the same role in Paper Mario: The Origami King. I won’t read you the entire credits, but the overall lead on the project appears to have been a joint effort between Nintendo and ArtePiazza, collaborating with the Digital Media Lab for cutscenes, Basiscape for sound design, and Nintendo Pictures for character art. Yoko Shimomura returned to reimagine the soundtrack.
The most interesting part is the involvement of ArtePiazza, a long-standing Japanese studio with a reputation for producing very good Dragon Quest remakes and ports. If we had learned this months ago, we would all have gone, “Oh wow, ArtePiazza!” And we moved on with our lives. I don’t think there is any secret scandal here revolving around ArtePiazza. It’s very strange that a piece of information that is usually a staple of press releases, fact sheets, official websites, trailers and copyright pages is so well and deliberately hidden.
This strange secrecy fits into a longer, ongoing pattern Nintendo has been adopting recently of being strangely cautious about simple, inoffensive information, like who Mario’s voice is, and increasingly ruthless about what kinds of information it will and won’t release. Allow early reviewers to share with their audiences. Well, we’ve been putting several recent Pokemon reviews on hold due to Nintendo’s strict information controls, like not letting us talk about the literal opening scene of Pokemon Legends: Arceus. Why? Who benefits from this?
Nintendo isn’t the only culprit in this, even if it is one of the most egregious companies. For example, we barely know anything about how well the Xbox business is doing because Microsoft won’t share more than a few vague comparisons each quarter. Now that Activision-Blizzard owns it, All of that publisher’s data will likely disappear into the black box as well. It was only due to poor redactions that we were able to discover some basic information about how much Sony produces games earlier this year. The gaming industry certainly has good reasons to be secretive about a number of things, but when compared to the film industry or anything else, video games in particular seem a little out of control.
So congratulations to ArtePiazza for co-developing what looks to be a very good remake of the Super Mario RPG. It’s great to know who is responsible for making the great art we all enjoy. In the future, it’s good to know that there are hundreds of clever Internet sleuths who can often track down this kind of really basic information when big companies don’t seem interested in sharing it. But wouldn’t it be great if they told us these things upfront at the beginning?
Rebecca Valentine is a senior reporter at IGN. Got a story tip? Send it to [email protected].
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