When Dr. Mario made his triumphant return to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, the development team had a bit of a headache over how to go about designing him. Speaking in a recent interview, Smash Bros. and Kirby creator Masahiro Sakurai discussed the challenges of balancing the character with standard Mario so that players could choose either without suffering a disadvantage in fights.
Originally, Dr. Mario was going to be essentially a different skin to Mario, but with roughly the same abilities. However, the design team felt that he was so individual compared to Mario that he deserved his own set of abilities. Sakurai said that they didn’t want to simply create a copy of the original Mario, but instead started with a “Mario that’s a bit heavier, with added attack-power”. They then entered the process of adjusting Dr. Mario’s abilities until he was equal in power to standard Mario.
“Actually all model-change characters that we have now were originally just supposed to be color configurations. Just like the Little Mac wireframe or how Olimar and Alph are included, we planned to just make the look and maybe the voice a possible configuration. But, when talking about Dr. Mario, including his abilities he had a lot of individuality in Melee compared to Mario. Also there were fans that said things like ‘I’m a doctor!’, or ‘A back-alley doctor!’ when they chose the black color config. When you have such fans and you just change the character-model and leave it at that and it becomes the same as Mario, we thought people might get angry. That’s why we forced ourselves and changed that. But, unlike we did in the past when we separately added abilities and monitored the results, this time we used the customization-system and entered the adjustment process by starting with a ‘Mario that’s a bit heavier, with added attack-power’. Although even then it still took a lot of work. During the regular adjustment process we have each fighter battle all others and try to grasp the strong and weak problem areas, but in this case we had Dr. Mario go against Mario and tried to adjust it so it would most likely result in a tie. We did the same for Marth and Lucina, as well as Pit and Black Pit.” — Masahiro Sakurai
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