Miyamoto, the Wii U and more

Miyamoto

Shigeru Miyamoto, the man you can attach on the word “success” in the gaming dictionary, discusses Nintendo’s upcoming console, and more, in a lengthy interview on IGN.

“Of course I’ve experienced a number of times how we as a company launch new hardware, and each time I have to confess I am more nervous than excited,” he laughs. Something’s different this time around, though. For once, there are no immediate competitors on the horizon; Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are hardly new to the market.

So far, whenever we’ve launched a new hardware platform to the market, people tended to regard us as the competition. They’d discuss how Nintendo would be able to compete with other companies by launching the new hardware. Within ourselves, we have never thought like that.. But it was inevitable that people tended to see things that way. However this time around, I think we are in a better position to be able to forecast upon our messaging, and our messaging is that we are proposing new, unique opportunities.”

The Wii U might be the next-gen console that comes first, but there’s tough competition from all sides; the living room just isn’t what it used to be, but Miyamoto and Nintendo know it.

“When we look around the current situation in the household, in most living rooms, even when different family members are getting together, they are all working on different things – some are working on their note PC, others are watching TV.

Even when they are in the same living room, each person is doing his or her own job, irrespective of other members of the family. This time around with Wii U, each of the seemingly different activities we are doing today can be united by taking advantage of both the big TV screen and the smaller, more personalised screen on the Wii U gamepad.”

Miyamoto wants to unite families, not separate the gamers from them, and most importantly, not even the non-gamers, the casual gamers who play few times and far between each other. “And with a Wii U gamepad, TV can be an improved experience as well. For example, web browsing on a TV screen is possible today, but not convenient; with Wii U it is much easier. Above all I think the Wii U is going to be able to unite each and any family by taking advantage of the TV in a more efficient way.”

Nintendo is not afraid to take risks, and we’ve witnessed that. Wii Fit anyone? They want to make more and more people have a reason to pick up their controller (or WiiMote, or GamePad, or whatever), no matter their skill. The ever-important company has even created multiplayer experiences for less skilled players across many franchises, their flagship Mario included. Is the Wii U truly about uniting people under the same banner?

“Yes, exactly. Even though Nintendo has [always] been trying to provide the entire family with the opportunity to get together, the fact of the matter is that from time to time, when for example several family members would like to watch TV programs on the screen, Nintendo’s console hardware was regarded as the obstacle, because they could not see the TV programs they really wanted to see. But with Wii U hardware the situation is going to be completely different… [it] can provide you with the circumstance in which the console cannot be the obstacle to disturb any entertainment that any of the family wishes to enjoy in the living room.

Wii U can change the entire picture surrounding how video games are played by taking advantage of the two different screens. For example it’s natural in other entertainment such as playing cards that you cannot tell what other players are doing, what cards they’re holding. Before it was not possible to reproduce this kind of enjoyable experience on video game machines. But with Wii U it is possible, not just with card games but also such traditional games as Hide and Seek, and Tag, and that’s why we are including these unique features in the gameplay in Nintendo Land. It is a good example to showcase this variety of different things that have been made possible but Wii U, especially Mario Chase and Luigi’s Ghost Mansion.”

Mario Chase was 2003’s Miyamoto-designed game that rivaled Pac Man in a sense, which had three players as ghosts playing on the TV and one player as Pac Man on a Game Boy Advance, with Luigi’s Ghost Mansion being in the same vein. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords was a game thatt could be played with four GBAs and the TV.

However, is Nintendo done with the concept? Not really. They’re working on a way to get the best out of a 3DS – Wii U connectivity, much like the Playstation 3 and Vita connectivity which started just not long ago. It is noted, however, that the audience that has both consoles is much smaller than those who own one or the other.

“Now that a lot of network technologies are evolving, games like [Zelda] Four Swords actually have great potential to evolve even further from now. Internally, we had continued debate as to the reason why Four Swords could not expand to the audience the way we really hoped it might have.” He feels that it isn’t that people don’t want to enjoy this kind of innovative multiplayer – just that it hasn’t been easy enough before.

“One of the dominant opinions as to the reasons why it didn’t sell was ‘Maybe people did not think that they could fully enjoy playing alone, they’d think that they’d need four players together to make the most of it.’ But I thought ‘No no, we should not think in that fashion at all. If we can really tell that the game itself is fun enough, but that there are obstacles to playing with other players, [then] we need to find out what [that obstacle] was really, and get rid of the kind of nuisances and disturbances.”

Well, with the Wii U and wireless communication, those nuisances are pretty much gone. One pattern you can notice in Nintendo’s output over the past decade or so is continuous iteration; games like Animal Crossing were ahead of their time when they were first released (on the N64 in 1999), or even five years after, but have finally found their full realisation on online-enabled, easily-connected modern consoles. Miyamoto feels that each time these games are released, they offer something very new.

“The fact of the matter is that we are often asked ‘another Pikmin, another Mario, why won’t you come up with brand new ideas and franchises, et cetera, but… even though we are creating a new iteration for the existing franchise, we are always trying to make unique entertainment, and one way to do this is to take new technologies and apply that so that even the existing franchise will be able to provide you with a brand new experience,” he says.

When the first 3D Zelda game out, I was just 6 years old. I was charmed by it, needless to say. Then, we had the GameCube and Wii era, which saw great games like Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. I felt the need to play them, these were artifacts for me; even though I was 19 when Skyward Sword came out, I felt like a child, having a smile on my face that nothing could remove. Seeing how people grow up and don’t feel the same as me, how can Nintendo maintain their audience that has become adults?

“I started working on making video games approximately 30 years ago, but since then I do not feel that I have changed a lot. I am still making games that look and feel almost the same way for players. One thing that is different is that the themes I pick up have much more variety than before; other than that I think even adults who started video games 30 years ago can enjoy them as if they were 30 years younger.

From the developer’s perspective, the big difference from 30 years ago is the fact that then, it was mainly children who played with videogames, and adults could not figure out what their sons and daughters were playing. But today, these children have grown up and become parents themselves, so they can understand. So with that change in my mind, I am always trying to create video games that appeal to different generations.

Sometimes people say that ‘I have graduated from video games’. But I do not think this is an appropriate term. This unique interactive media called video games can be very conveniently integrated into your ordinary life, and my hope is that I can work on making the applications for games which can attract people and encourage them to be associated with video game technologies one way or another, so that they can even more enjoy their lives.”

Mister Miyamoto, please don’t stop making games. We’re all grateful for your presense, and your games have molded many childhoods, mine included. Once again, thanks to IGN for the big, interesting interview.

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Author: Christos Chatzisavvas View all posts by
Gaming lover, web developing graduate, founder and developer at Starblind Entertainment. Keep your eye out for news, reviews, previews and opinion articles, as well as game projects. Follow me on Twitter @CrashOkami.

One Comment on "Miyamoto, the Wii U and more"

  1. nick November 8, 2012 at 3:04 am -

    ok, thats nice, now stop wasting your time and get back to work on the next zelda game!
    sorry dude but i cant wait another minute for it, skyward sword was just too awesome to wait this long for a follow up!

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