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?

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Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
I am the current Editor-in-Chief of Zelda Informer and have been running the show here since July 16th, 2008. I've actually been running Zelda Fan sites since 1998, so I've been in this "industry" for roughly 16 years. I'm 28 years old and have two kids, one biological, the other more of a step daughter (not legally yet, but practically). I live with my girlfriend and our two kids (Aiden, age 1 and half, Melody age 3 and half). I'm attending college to create video games web applications, and I naturally love Nintendo (I run a Zeld a website after all!). For those curious, I currently own a Wii U, Xbox One, 3DS, PlayStation 3, and a gaming PC (and a gaming capable laptop too!). I do plan to eventually get a PlayStation 4, likely when more comes out I am interested in playing on the system. I do play the Wii U more than any other system I own.

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