Super Mario 3D Land director Koichi Hayashida has suggested that hardware changes, and the unique capabilities for which new tech allows, are what help to drive forward existing IPs such as Mario. Hayashida suggested that generational steps allowed developers to explore new combinations of familiar mechanics with "something special" made possible by new hardware.
“One element is that every time we come out with new hardware, the unique capabilities of that technology drives us to find new combinations for gameplay that’s familiar in the Mario universe, but made new by something special about that hardware,” he said, speaking to Games Radar.
“That combination of familiar and new, I think, gives people a sense of freshness.”
He also touched upon the importance of Shigeru Miyamoto to the Mario brand, noting that although Miyamoto has been at the forefront of a number of excellent creative ideas, Nintendo work hard to ensure that such creativity is grasped by everyone and passed along to subsequent generations of developers.
“Of course Mr Miyamoto is not going to retire any time soon, and I have to say I’m going to be working hard as I can on games now and in the future,” he continued, “But Nintendo is made up of a lot of really great ideas, many of which were contributed by Mr Miyamoto himself.
“We all care very much about these ideas, we try hard to grasp them and use them in our work. We also do our best to pass along these ideas to the next generation of developers, and that’s an ongoing process.”
There was a bit of a sudden share drop last year for Nintendo, when Miyamoto's name was dropped into the same sentence as "retiring", but the Nintendo visionary refuted the claims, although he did say he'd like to concentrate on smaller projects in the future.