A few weeks ago, there was some confusion as to whether or not Nintendo great and creator of the Zelda series, Shigeru Miyamoto, was retiring. Luckily for Nintendo and its fans, he’s not ready to say game over just yet. The LA Times sat down with Miyamoto to not only clarify the retirement statement but discuss the 25th anniversaries of Zelda and Mario, talk about how gaming has changed over that time, and Miyamoto states that Skyward Sword is the ultimate Zelda game.
Read what he had to say after the jump.
On the retirement front, Miyamoto couldn’t be more clear: “To make it very clear, I have no intention of retiring right now at all, and I do not think that I’m old enough to think about retiring anytime soon.” He goes on to say that although he enjoys working at the forefront of Nintendo, he realizes that he cannot do this forever and has been thinking about the ways that he can supervise and inspire younger developers to ensure that Nintendo is not relying on him when it is time for him to retire. Considering that Miyamoto is 59 years of age, it’s no surprise that he is thinking about Nintendo’s future and ensuring that his legacy can be passed on.
Miyamoto mentions that the number of people who work on making video games these days has increased dramatically compared with 25 years ago, to the point where managing the project takes up so much energy that it makes it hard to think of new ideas. In the past, these ideas were limited by the hardware, but over time the hardware and technology has improved and now it feels like the hardware is asking for ideas for what it can do. He says that this is the case for both Mario and Zelda, and that both are growing with the hardware. “In the case of Zelda, it’s of course about the swordplay. But it’s also about the player growing up with the character of Link. In order to enjoy the adventures of Link, we developers always have to think about incorporating more convenient item selection in the gameplay… We were able to take advantage of the Wii Motion Plus [in Skyward Sword] to make the gameplay more intuitive. Link uses his sword for offense and his shield for defense, which makes it more interactive. So much so that you yourself become more involved physically in the adventure. With these advances, I think we can say that Skyward Sword is the ultimate Zelda game.”
It’s not only hardware but story and gameplay that are important to Zelda, according to Miyamoto. When asked whether the story comes first and then the technology is created to build it, or the story is built in order to fully utilize technology, he says, “Among the many franchises that Nintendo has, Zelda is the one that makes the most use of a story. Each one of the franchise games has to make great use of the story because we want players to be involved. We’re [careful with them] because if there were any contradictions, for example, it might be awkward and become a distraction for [a gamer] to feel like they are in the game right now. Having said that, however, the most important thing is the gameplay and the experience through the gameplay itself. As far as the Legend of Zelda is concerned, one of the important factors is that the player has to think about a variety of different options. That’s gameplay and story. When they are encountering a riddle, they have to think hard and try out many different things. Of course, this time, it was really important to feature the sword, and we really wanted to highlight the movement of the sword. And because the story is evolving around the sword, we thought, ‘Why don’t we make this an Episode 1′ — that way we can tell the story of the Master Sword.”
Miyamoto feels very lucky that fans have supported his characters for so long, so that we can now celebrate their 25th anniversaries. His aim for his characters was always that they should grow, but he is still very thankful for the fans. When asked who his favorite Nintendo characters actually are, Miyamoto finds it hard to choose! He says that they are all important to him. He does however mention that Mario is the sort of character who can be used for anything, and since he always thinks about gameplay first before choosing a character who would fit that gameplay, Mario is very convenient.
It’s always wonderful to hear insights about our favorite series from such a creative man, and to see that he is still passionate about them after so many years. When the day for Miyamoto to retire finally does come, it will be sad, but it sounds like he’s doing all he can to ensure his creations will live on in safe hands. You can read the full interview here, where he also discusses the future of the Wii and 3D, and how Japanese manga has influenced him. (Also look out for the Inside Edition video within the article about Mario and Nintendo from the 1980s!)