Anyone that has played a "Mario & Luigi" game can tell you that Mario and Luigi aren't the only familiar faces in the games. Over the course of the three games that have been released in the series ("Superstar Saga," "Partners In Time," and "Bowser's Inside Story"), and the one that will drop next week ("Dream Team") the Mario Brothers have run into countless friendly, and not so friendly, faces in their RPG journeys. However, throughout all of the games, there have always been new characters introduced that tend to be specific to the stories told in these franchises, and because they are so unique to these games, those characters will almost never venture outside of a "Mario & Luigi" game.New characters in the Mario Universe is actually a pretty big deal, and the ones that show up in “Mario & Luigi” usually tend to play very important roles within these games, and it turns out, that's by design.
While speaking to the "Mario & Luigi: Dream Team" development team at a recent interview, I asked about how much freedom they had to try new things with their games. Mr. Akira Ohtani, Producer for the last three "Mario & Luigi" games at Nintendo Co., Ltd., took the opportunity to respond, and discuss the care that goes into introducing new characters into such a long standing franchise.
“One thing that we pay special attention to is that, when it is difficult to fully realize the scenario we’ve envisioned with the Mario franchise characters that are available at hand, we try to pay attention to when there is a specific need to create a new character to allow us to flush out our vision for a scenario for a game.”
Seemingly, the teams try to keep their experiences true to the already existing catalog of characters in the Mushroom Kingdom, but sometimes the story takes them to a place where they have to introduce new ones. Mr. Ohtani made it clear that Mario characters are important to the franchise, but sometimes the situations created in the game don't always allow for them to be integrated seamlessly.
"When creating an RPG, we feel like the scenarios are a really important element that requires a lot of focus and energy. It’s true that we are using Mario characters that have appeared in a lot of well-known franchises, but I feel like we still have a lot of freedom to work with them... I feel like that’s one of the other areas that we have a little bit freedom to work around some of the limitations of how the Mario Universe has been cottified to a an extent, is when we create a new character. We try to only do so when it is absolutely necessary to realize the scenario we want.”
This helps explain why characters from your favorite "Mario Bros." games aren't crammed into the "Mario & Luigi" franchise. Overall, it makes a lot of sense, as it coincides with the entirely differently type of experience that all of the "Mario & Luigi" offer, especially now that franchises is four titles deep. Having reoccurring residents from the Mushroom Kingdom popping up over and over again would get redundant and confusing, as these games do have a thread of continuity running through them.