Shigeru Miyamoto Famitsu Interview Part 2
The second part of our translated Weekly Famitsu interview with Shigeru Miyamoto who talks about being an editor and not a creator, his involvement in Breath of the Wild, forcing large parts of games to be changed, what’s okay for Mario to do including not killing, no Smash Bros. like there is today if Mario couldn’t punch, getting approval from Disney for his Bambi art, N64 having more proficient interfaces than its competitors, and Iwata wanting to bring back “Anything goes” ethos.
Look out for more parts in the coming days. Part 1 is posted here. Many thanks to BlackKite for translating this for Japanese Nintendo. Please credit if posting elsewhere. Buy Weekly Famitsu here (use the code JPNINTENDO for 5% off all physical orders above $20). Please consider buying me a coffee and to help support future translations. Lead image thanks to The Verge.
The only one who may be called a Creator would be God
Apparently Shigesato Itoi had once said “[Being called] Creators or Creations are absurd.” The only one who may be called a Creator would be God. Nobody is doing any Creations and what all of them are doing is Editing. Miyamoto agrees with this and considers himself as an Editor. People would just repeat editing things they had absorbed in the past, and the results will be different for each person.
The most important thing for Miyamoto to make games right now is the sensation that is similar to throwing a dart with one’s own style – without bothering with scientific approaches like angles or stances – and having it land exactly where one wants it to be.
Miyamoto’s involvement in Breath of the Wild
For any game that Miyamoto was involved in – including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – he would be the most fixated in the controls as he would join the team directly in making this particular part. While he was also involved in some other early phases like concepting or determining the game’s direction in its first 30 minutes, he would mostly leave the rest of the development to other staff and wishes them “Good luck”.
Being known for ‘flipping tables’
Miyamoto was also known for ‘flipping tables’ – a terminology used by developers when a check by Miyamoto caused a large part of the game to be changed. Although he would still do suggestions like stopping or going to another direction at the beginning, he no longer ‘flips it’ in the middle. “It’s not like I can ‘flip the table’ anytime as a hobby; it can’t be ‘flipped’ if I don’t know the whole picture.” “When I say ‘this is no good’, by changing the structure etc, we can change the values or the ways we look at it; when I can see it, that’s when ‘the table is flipped’. When I couldn’t see it, it doesn’t mean something will be changed just from me saying ‘no good’. In the end, people who don’t work as directors wouldn’t be able to look at all of the elements.”
What’s okay for Mario to do when developing a Mario-related game
When letting other people make a Mario-related game, someone has to set the basis of ‘what’s okay for Mario to do’ in order for the talks to proceed. So Miyamoto will definitely check the game’s development at some point. There may be an impression that Miyamoto is the only one who sets the standard, but Miyamoto said it’s because nobody else does it. “Rather than only myself, if nobody decides on it, ‘then I should do it to the best of my ability.’ As we repeated this, it gradually became like that. Well, I should at least get the privilege to say ‘I don’t want to’ (laughs).”
There are two ways Miyamoto takes a look at those games: Closely or Briefly. Super Mario Run falls under the former (Closely) as there were nobody else who had set ‘how far is okay to use Mario in mobile [devices]’. Famitsu also mentioned recent non-game projects such as Super Nintendo World with Universal Studios Japan and the animated film with Illumination Entertainment, to which Miyamoto noted that the Universal project would have a Mario world nobody has made in reality yet, so it’d be weird if [Nintendo] were to just supervise designs so there needs to be somebody who can say ‘how far things can be tolerated’.
Miyamoto added, however, that such creativity is something new made and done at ease by a person in the workplace. It’s not something born from instructions given with measures. That’s why the role is to say “Well, please do it at ease.” Miyamoto joked that it would be easier for everybody to start moving if there’s something like “If that person said it, then so it goes.”
‘Mario does not kill people’
Miyamoto would say “No Good” if ‘It’s not Mario-like’ or ‘It’s not Nintendo-like’, which brings a question to clarify those two terms starting with the former. ‘Mario-like’ can be expressed in one word as ‘Relief’. “[…] When I had Yoichi Kotabe draw a picture of Mario, I think I said a point that ‘Mario does not kill people’. When I think about it now, that basis may also be easy to understand. But it doesn’t mean ‘he doesn’t trample insects underfoot either’. That’s the moderate sense of Mario. Such a basis has also pretty much permeated on everyone even now.”
Is it okay for Mario to punch?
This brings up Mario’s appearance in Super Smash Bros. Some people got worried about Mario’s brand there, asking “Is it okay for Mario to punch?” Miyamoto would explain to them “Well, Mario also did things like pulling a turtle out of its shell…” They also did things like changing sound effects to be cuter to make it permissible. Miyamoto noted that if the release were to be stopped just because “Mario must not punch”, there would be no Super Smash Bros like it is today.
The word ‘Relief’ can also be similarly used to explain ‘Nintendo-like’. People in the company are striving to make objects that can be placed at the center of a family’s entertainment in the living room and makes parents relieved. Miyamoto hopes a Nintendo product can become one of those several “family games”.
Miyamoto drawing Bambi
Miyamoto then reminisced that on the year he just joined Nintendo, the company worked on a remake of Disney Home Games board game set, which Miyamoto had a set in his own house from his childhood, and he didn’t realise until then that the set was made by Nintendo. He also remembered when he had to draw pictures of Bambi and others and then visiting Disney Japan to have them approved. Those board games were just like playing cards; they got pulled from the drawer once a year when the family gathered during New Year.
Miyamoto personally had his image of Famicom very similar to above. He and also the whole company really hope a gathered family will pull out and play Nintendo games in the living room, because that has been Nintendo’s brand from the playing cards era. Miyamoto’s development team had a direction of making the Nintendo Switch “an item that wouldn’t look weird at the centre of a family”, so it should connect to the ‘Nintendo-like’ term.
N64 having more proficient interfaces than its competitors
“During Nintendo 64’s times, when I look at other companies’ hardware, I got to think once again that ‘we’re the most proficient in the interfaces.’ And during Wii’s times, we became able to clearly say it’s a ‘tool at the centre of a family’.”
Miyamoto then remembered a couple of funny moments when he took a peek at what some people found so interesting while playing Famicom games. In one case, someone played Zelda just to do Rupee gambling all the time. In another more hilarious one, somebody played doubles on a Tennis game just to smack the ass of their partner.
Satoru Iwata wanting to bring back “Anything goes” ethos
That’s when Miyamoto noted there was a period where anyone could enjoy games in their own ways regardless of the [games’] intended presentations, just like the proverb “Anything goes”, but games around the Gamecube era became hardly anything like that, so Satoru Iwata said he wanted to bring back that “Anything goes” moment.
He also reminisced when he was interviewed by an American journalist about the DS, where he said “You can also play on this game console with a single pen, so everyone can line up on the same start line” while thinking to himself “This is a good [catch] copy”.