Nabbit was a pesky character in New Super Mario Bros. U, stealing Toad’s stuff and all that, making me replay levels just to stop him. It was an interesting mechanic and he had a pretty unique design. Turn around with the New Super Luigi U DLC and suddenly he is a playable character, right along with Luigi. An invincible character at that, allowing players who struggle to have an easier time making it through all 82 levels. While a nice concept, it turns out the including of him as a playable character took a lot of thinking and solved multiple issues with the DLC itself. From a recent Iwata Asks:
Iwata: But by switching the main character to Luigi, you also had to rethink the player-character for multiplayer mode, didn’t you?
Tezuka: You’re referring to Nabbit.9. Nabbit: A new character who appeared in New Super Mario Bros. U. Nabbit steals items from Toad’s house and plays chase with Mario. He’s good at slipping past enemies.
Iwata: Why did you choose Nabbit?
Takemoto: When we decided on Luigi as the main character, I talked with Tezuka-san about how I was absolutely against having Mario make an appearance.
Iwata: Not wanting to use Mario is something you simply don’t hear around the Entertainment Analysis & Development Department! (laughs)
Takemoto: Yeah! (laughs) The idea came up of using three Toads, but when three Toads show up, the screen gets confusing, so I hounded Tezuka-san about seizing this chance to use a new character.
Iwata: So if you hadn’t pushed for it, there would have been three Toads?
Tezuka: Yeah, it might have ended up that way.
Takemoto: So we decided to rethink the characters from the start. A lot of enemies have always shown up in this series, but not many are allies.
Iwata: And often Princess Peach is off somewhere far away in need of saving. (laughs)
Takemoto: Yeah. (laughs) So I thought the only choice left was Nabbit! In New Super Mario Bros. U, you chase around Nabbit, but I thought it would be fun to keep Nabbit’s ability to slip past enemies and use him as a player-character. I asked a programmer to make something as a test, and his first reaction was “Are you really going to do this with Nabbit?!”
Iwata: The programmer was less than thrilled.
Takemoto: Yeah. But when he actually made it, before he even showed it to me, I got a phone call from that programmer, who was overjoyed, saying, “It feels so refreshing to use Nabbit! Even the way he walks around the course selection screen is great!” When I heard that, I knew I had to keep pushing for Nabbit!
Iwata: So you made something provisional before receiving Tezuka-san’s approval.
Takemoto: Yes. Then I showed him the prototype with Nabbit and said, “The way he doesn’t run into enemies would be good for beginners, wouldn’t it?”
Tezuka: Yeah. Just about that time, we’d been talking about how we needed something for beginners, and Nabbit was perfect for that. It’s like Miyamoto-san is always saying…
Iwata: “An idea is a single solution that solves multiple issues at once.”10: Shigeru Miyamoto said this in a discussion for Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun. For more, see “The Definition of Idea.”
Tezuka: I thought Nabbit would solve the problem. And just between us, you can also use Nabbit for single-player gameplay.
Iwata: We said in Nintendo Direct in May11 that Nabbit was only available for multiplayer mode.11. Nintendo Direct in May: Nintendo Direct 5.17.2013: Nabbit is introduced at 16:54.
Tezuka: Later, the specs were about due, so I said, “I don’t mind if it’s a hidden feature, but make it comfortable for beginning players,” and we tried making it so a single player could use him. As for the way you make him appear, you know how old games had hidden commands?
Iwata: Right, right. You could do things like make hidden characters appear with hidden commands.
Tezuka: I won’t give away specifics, but you only have to do a certain something once you enter a course, so it should be easy.
Iwata: That’s for the players to discover.
Tezuka: Yeah. We couldn’t put those kinds of hidden commands in most recent games, so I hope people will find it nostalgic and enjoy finding it.
Hidden commands, help for beginners, eliminating Mario… good job Nintendo. What do you think about Nabbit being playable?