Michel Ancel, the man behind Rayman and Beyond Good & Evil, admits his deepest, darkest secret: he doesn’t really like Mario.
A strange sentiment for a developer known mostly for his platformers, a genre utterly dominated, and arguably conceived, by the Mario series. Responding to a statement that the Mario games must have been an inspiration for the Rayman series during an interview with Gamasutra, Ancel said, “As far as I’m concerned, not at all! I will tell you something terrible — I don’t really enjoy playing Mario games. I don’t like gliding, I don’t like its inertia, and I don’t like not being able to give some slaps! It’s a fabulous series, and I understand that people love it, but it’s not my cup of tea.”
Mario is arguably the posterboy for classic game design where raw gameplay always comes before narrative and storytelling, a design philosophy Ancel has claimed is not for him. He went on to name some of the platformers that did inspire Rayman.
“I used to prefer Ghosts n’ Goblins, Heart of Darkness, Another World — games with a focus on the narrative side. Beyond that, I find Mario’s controls very interesting, but I don’t buy it. I can’t help but seeing the ropes of the game, even if it works. The game is thrilling, obviously.”
As if he hadn’t scored enough credibility points with a Hearts of Darkness reference, he also gushed briefly about Legend of the Mystical Ninja (Goemon in some regions) for the SNES, citing it alongside The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past as one of his game design “models.”