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This GameSpy piece is one of many interviews I conducted with Nintendo living legend, Shigeru Miyamoto.
I first met Miyamoto in 1994, as Nintendo prepared for the release of Donkey Kong Country, a game created by Rare Ltd. Based on a character created by Miyamoto. The following year, I was privileged to interview him in Japan, at the unveiling of the Nintendo 64. In the years that followed, I generally interviewed Mr. Miyamoto three or four times per year. I would interview him at E3 and on visits to Japan. He was always friendly and interesting to meet with.
For those of you who are too young to remember Howard Cosell, he was probably the most famous television sports reporter of all-time. I think he was destined to be successful, but his career was greatly advanced because of his relationship with Muhammad Ali. Ali gave Cosell constant access and fed him enough colorful quotes to keep them both in the limelight. Miyamoto did that for me. I was able to interview him often and curiosity about what Miyamoto had to say kept my career going strong.
If Shigeru Miyamoto had succeeded in the movie industry the way he has in video games, he would be bigger than Spielberg. If he enjoyed his current level of success as a rock star, his albums sales would more than quadruple those of Michael Jackson and the Beatles combined.
But Shigeru Miyamoto is a game designer. He may be the most photographed man at E3, but in non-gaming society, Miyamoto can still go to McDonalds without being recognized.
Miyamoto, the genius behind most of Nintendo’s biggest games, was in a candid mood when he met with GameSpy at E3. He spoke openly about games he has supervised, games he has worked on, and what he thinks of other people’s games.
GS: In past interviews, you have said that you are working on 100 Marios. Will that game be released on GameCube?
Miyamoto: (Laughs) I am still working on it.
The 100 Marios that we showed at Spaceworld, that was really just a concept-level idea. It was an experiment that we did based on some ideas that I had, so it is hard to say just what form we will launch that in. Some of the ideas that we developed out of that were used in Pikmin.
GS: Are you working directly on any games these days?
Miyamoto: I am putting a lot of my focus on some of the connectivity titles that we are working on.
Obviously, our development teams back at EAD are working on our franchise titles that we are releasing. I leave that to them and I focus on new ideas and the connectivity ideas that we are working on.
GS: How much further can Nintendo take Game Boy Advance/GameCube connectivity?
Miyamoto: What we are trying to do with connectivity is to show developers that there are other ways that games can move in besides the trend of making them prettier, more complicated, and more in depth. I really like the idea of trying to use connectivity to create simpler gameplay that is easily understood by people who are not hardcore gamers.
GS: Mario Sunshine did not sell especially well. Neither did Sly Cooper or Jak and Daxter. What has happened to the platform game genre?
Miyamoto: In the case of Mario Sunshine, I think that we could have made the game a lot more interesting if we had worked harder on it.
GS: Surely it was not a matter of working hard. Was it a question of time or effort?
Miyamoto: Obviously, because of the concept of Mario Sunshine, there was a need to release the game during the summer. Based on that, you could say that we started the game a little later than we should have.
One thing that has hurt the Mario games… Taking them into 3D, while it has expanded the worlds, has shrunk the user base. By going into 3D the games have become more complicated. Before that, the Mario games were the type of thing that anybody could pick up and play very easily. By going into the 3D world, we have limited who that game is accessible to.
After Super Mario 64, making a game that those 3D Mario fans can enjoy further requires shrinking the audience even more because you need to go more in depth. What we did with Mario Sunshine to make it more accessible is that we tried to create it so that you could control the camera any way that you wanted it. That was how we started development on the game.
A number of 3D platform games have come out this generation. I still think that Mario Sunshine is probably the best of those that have come out so far.
Obviously the graphics in Sly Cooper were great. That game looked incredible. I can’t comment on the gameplay.
Mario Sunshine, from the gameplay value and the ability to go back in and find new things and have a sense of discovery, I really think that Mario Sunshine was really well done in that sense.
GS: What do you think of the Grand Theft Auto series?
Miyamoto: I have looked at Grand Theft Auto. The basic concept was very well done. Regardless of what the content of the game was, the level of freedom that you had in that one big city was a very good idea. Obviously it has gotten a lot of press because of the moral issues; but even aside from that, the game was done in such a way that gives it great gameplay. I think that is the reason that Grand Theft Auto is selling.
Looking at this from the other side, I think we should welcome this game. Everybody is making all of this fuss about the incredible graphics and movies that they have in the games these days. For a game like Grand Theft Auto, which is not nearly as polished in terms of the graphical look, to do so well is positive for the game industry.
GS: Are you bothered by the moral issues?
Miyamoto: Just because something will make people does not necessarily mean that we should make it. Developers need to think about how their games will affect the people who are playing them.
At the same time, I also think that just because one person is offended by the moral issues raised by Grand Theft Auto does not mean that people will not enjoy the game.
GS: Are you interested in making adult games like Grand Theft Auto or The Getaway?
Miyamoto: As a producer, I am interested in working with people who make adult-oriented games. You will see that our line-up will continue to have a lot of games that are very adult-oriented.
Personally, as a game creator, I still think that the idea of family-oriented games, a games that span all ages and include everyone from young adults to adults and senior citizens… There are still a lot of games that are waiting to be made of that market.
GS: Now that you have worked with Naka (Yuji Naka, creator of Sonic The Hedgehog), Kojima (Hideo Kojima, creator of the Metal Gear games), and Toru Iwatani (creator of Pac-Man), are there any other designers you would like to team up with?
Miyamoto: There are still a few developers who I would like to work with. I cannot name them, their companies might get mad if I did.
GS: Will you ever do a game with Mizuguchi-san (Tetsuya Mizuguchi, head of Sega’s United Game Artists)?
Miyamoto: When you asked that first question, I guessed that you were hoping that I would say Mr. Mizuguchi.
A lot of people have asked me if I would like to do a game with Mr. Mizuguchi (Tetsuya Mizuguchi, head of Sega’s United Game Artists). We have met a few times. I am not sure if he is interested in working with me.
He is an interesting person. He is young. He has a lot of energy and I think he would be fun to work with. There may be a possibility of working with him in the future.