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1985-1989 | 1990-1994 | 1995-1999 | 2000-2004 | 2005-2009 | 2010-2014 | 2015-2019 | 2020-2024

Introduction

Shigeru Miyamoto is arguably the most accomplished and influential video game maker in the world, having created some of the most recognized characters and some of the best selling game franchises such as Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Donkey Kong. He has worked at Nintendo for his entire career spanning more than 40 years. In that time he has continuously been designing, producing, and directing game development, granting him a perspective few others have been able to achieve.

But this isn’t a biography, it’s a chronological collection of interviews, appearances, writings, and other records of Shigeru Miyamoto’s words, with my own summary of each.

I have done all of this for two reasons. First, to create a nicely organized and helpful record of the words of an influential figure that has had a huge impact on the world of interactive entertainment. This is in some ways a history of Nintendo and how they make games as well as a big chunk of video game history. Second, to create an entertaining and easy to skim through history of Nintendo through the eyes of its most famous creator as he talks about his career and the creation of many of his most important works. A way to relive the history of the changing landscape of gaming while revisiting what it was like to follow the latest news updates on games you were looking forward to.

There are currently over 750 entries, including those that have not been translated to English.

 

Overview of Year Pages

1985-1989

Major Releases: Super Mario Bros., Famicom Disk System, The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic, Super Mario Bros. 3, Game Boy

Overview: This first page is the smallest, with the earliest entry being a conversation between Shigeru Miyamoto and The Tower of Druaga’s Masanobu Endo. There’s also a conversation with Dragon Quest’s Yuji Horii. Most of his interviews at this point are with Japanese technology and gaming magazines.

Some topics that will come up again and again in the future are covered here, such as how Mario was designed and the story of how he came to join Nintendo and start making games. Comparing movies and games is already underway.

Mr. Miyamoto already has a big reputation and has apparently been called a genius at this point.

 

1990-1994

Major Releases: Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Mario World, F-Zero, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario Kart, Star Fox, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Donkey Kong Country

Overview: Much of this material had to be translated by fans many years after the fact, and Nintendo Power starts to take an interest in interviewing Mr. Miyamoto. There are some strategy guides, a CD’s liner notes, and we get our first videos here, all taking place at Nintendo’s offices, I think. There is the beginning of some curiosity about games from non-gaming media.

Many interviewers are already asking him about game design and how Nintendo makes games.

There’s a lot of love for The Legend of Zelda series and there are already many questions about his process and motivations in making them.

He has some interest in the Super NES CD-ROM here, but he’s not sold on every game needing to be a CD-ROM.

He says he’s not famous and isn’t recognized in the street, but that he does get letters asking for photos.

 

1995-1999

Major Releases: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, Super Mario RPG, Nintendo 64, Super Mario 64, Wave Race 64, Mario Kart 64, Star Fox 64, 1080° Snowboarding, Game Boy Color, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Smash Bros.

Overview: Nintendo Power starts speaking of Mr. Miyamoto in reverent tones and interviews him many times in this period but he seems to stay in Japan other than during E3. This is the beginning of many E3 appearances whether on stage or off, doing interviews and Q & A sessions. There are almost 3 times as many entries during this period than the previous one.

There’s quite a few interviews about the Nintendo 64 and its capabilities, and he seems quite excited to be using polygons. Getting used to the analog stick is a frequent topic and he brings up the 4 controller ports quite often. At one point he says he is working on 10 Nintendo 64 games. After talking up the potential of the 64DD being able to write data it is abandoned quickly and many games he mentions never come out.

It wasn’t brand new but there’s a lot of questions about the Super FX chip in 1995 and 1996.

He talks positively about the Tamagotchi and how such a simple low tech thing can prove to be very popular.

There are several interviews about Super Mario RPG and later about Paper Mario, some of the only role-playing games he ever worked on. Several months after Final Fantasy VII’s release he says that the role-playing game market will shrink.

He’s not interested in making movies but he’s compared to Steven Spielberg several times.

When asked about online gaming his responses vary quite a bit. Sometimes they are something interesting he’d like to explore, sometimes they are too expensive and difficult for consumers, and sometimes they are mere trends that he’s not interested in chasing.

Several times he talks about how much of the N64’s power a game uses, Super Mario 64 being 40-60%, Star Fox 64 at 70-80%, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time at 90%.

What dominates the latter half of this period is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a game that was likely more hyped than any other in history at the time. He laments that it took 50 people to make the game, a team size too big.

 

2000-2004

Major Releases: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Paper Mario, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Ages, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Luigi’s Mansion, Pikmin, Super Mario Sunshine, Metroid Prime, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, F-Zero GX, DS

Overview: By this point most of Mr. Miyamoto’s interviews are with non-Japanese media, many Western magazines and various now-defunct websites interview him during this time.

The 64DD is released and there’s a lot of questions about the games coming out for it, many of which end up cancelled, including Earthbound 64/Mother 3.

There is a lot of GameCube promotion, he says it’s well balanced, easy to develop for, and that developers can do anything they can dream of with it. He’s not totally enthusiastic about moving to DVDs for games, but talks a lot about how Nintendo is making sure loading times are kept low. There’s talk of easily moving the GameCube from room to room thanks to its handle. He says he is working on 30 titles at once.

Mr. Miyamoto is repeatedly asked about online games on the GameCube and he repeatedly says that not enough people have broadband and that such games are too expensive before changing the topic to “communication games” like Animal Crossing and touting Game Boy Advance and GameCube connectivity. At one point he explicitly says he’s not interested in making online games. This view somewhat softens later to explanations that online games are exclusive to too small a group.

Mr. Miyamoto mentions Mario being more mature in Super Mario Sunshine which gets some attention, but this amounts to Mario’s look changing to be a bit less childish. He later says he regrets how hard and unfriendly Sunshine was to new players.

The biggest controversy by far is The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker’s cel shaded graphics. There are many snide questions about them and his answer is usually to say that it will feel natural once you’re playing it. This ties in with Grand Theft Auto III’s release and huge success as many question why Nintendo isn’t making more mature games and Mr. Miyamoto responds that Nintendo does not make violent games while emphasizing that their games are for everyone, not just children.

It’s during this time that he explicitly states that he doesn’t like role-playing games because it’s not fun to be so bound, and that anyone can be good at them.

Promotion for the DS begins and the most common selling point seems to be how easy it to use because of the touch screen.

 

2005-2009

Major Releases: Nintendogs, Mario Kart DS, Wii, Wii Sports, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Super Mario Galaxy, Wii Fit, Wii Music, New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Overview: Nintendo begins moving towards a more casual audience as the DS becomes a hit and the Wii also launches to strong sales. Mr. Miyamoto talks quite a bit about how much his wife, who doesn’t like playing games, loves Nintendogs. More mainstream press starts to want to interview Mr. Miyamoto and talk about the DS and Wii. This era sees the start of Iwata Asks.

2005 brings the 20th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. and there is an interview once again diving into the history of its creation, but overall there is not much made of it.

As he talks about the Wii and the Wii Remote he reiterates many times that game controllers have had too many buttons and it was too confusing. This led to the gaming industry only appealing to a core audience. He starts talking about gaming’s poor reputation and how fewer people are playing games because they’re too complicated. The stereotypical image of a gamer is brought up several times, which he wants the Wii to change. Several times he mentions idea of watching someone play the Wii and wanting to join in, and the Wii being a living room device.

Many interviewers ask Mr. Miyamoto about the Wii’s relatively poor graphics and he says that not everyone has a high definition television and that it is expensive to make such games.

 

2010-2014

Major Releases: Super Mario Galaxy 2, 3DS, Steel Diver, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Star Fox 64 3D, Super Mario 3D Land, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Wii U, New Super Mario Bros. U, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, Pikmin 3, Super Mario 3D World

Overview: There are more than 180 entries here, making it the largest page. As gaming magazines wane, more and more outlets want to talk to Mr. Miyamoto and make videos with him, and Nintendo starts making use of social media and making more promotional videos with its developers. The first Nintendo Directs happen during this time and Mr. Miyamoto eventually makes appearances in them, including doing some comedic skits.

As Mr. Miyamoto becomes more of a spokesman and executive he becomes less involved with making games, acting as producer on fewer titles. At one point he says that he spends more time on ideas than content. The 3DS and the Wii U launch during this period and both have rocky beginnings, but he does a lot of promotion for them.

The big topic in this era is Mr. Miyamoto’s retirement. During a Wired interview he says that he tells everyone he is going to retire to get them used to the idea of him not being around. This causes enough worry that Nintendo’s stock price goes down and they quickly issue a statement saying that Mr. Miyamoto is not in fact retiring.

Super Mario Bros.’ 25th anniversary receives a lot more fanfare than the 20th, with multiple interviews and videos, while The Legend of Zelda’s 25th anniversary sees the release of The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia, which he writes the foreword for.

Many of these interviews promote the 3DS and its stereoscopic 3D. Being able to accurately judge where you’re going to land when jumping in 3D is something that’s brought up many times.

The Wii U’s promotion centers on the living room experience and providing a way to access entertainment, something that was brought up with the Wii, but not as often. Much is made about being to play the Wii U even when someone else is using the living room television, and about using the GamePad as a remote. As time goes on he admits that Nintendo took a long time to design the Wii U and that they have had issues setting up the development environment, so game releases have been slow.

Miiverse launches and he uses it to announce the beginning and ending of the Year of Luigi. There are also several posts about Pikmin 3 and its Secret Memos.

There’s quite a few Pikmin 3 interviews that took a while to get translated by fans, or were never translated at all. Meanwhile there’s a lot more promotion for Nintendo 3DS Guide: Louvre than you would expect.

He now describes a typical game as taking 50-60 people to make.

 

2015-2019

Major Releases: Super Mario Maker, Star Fox Zero, Star Fox Guard, Super Mario Run, Super Nintendo World, Switch, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Super Mario Odyssey

Overview: Mr. Miyamoto continues to be less heavily involved in game development, but he still has over 80 appearances in these 5 years. Nintendo is making Treehouse at E3 videos where they interview developers. More nontraditional outlets, such as popular YouTubers, interview Mr. Miyamoto. A common theme is supporting younger developers at Nintendo.

He says he could never be a film director, and later says that Nintendo might look into making movies. The Super Mario Bros. Movie was announced in 2018, but Mr. Miyamoto only talks very briefly about it.

The Super Mario Bros. 25th anniversary event coincides with the release of Super Mario Maker and there are many retrospective looks at the series alongside promotion of the new game and discussion of how to design Mario levels.

There are quite a few Star Fox Zero and Star Fox Guard interviews, especially in March 2016, including a Nintendo Direct where he talks about it. He goes into detail about how intuitive the controls are and how Star Fox Zero is an authentic action game. He later has to explain why the games are delayed.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild starts to get promoted heavily. Mr. Miyamoto talks about how many little details come together to create a realistic world and how much freedom the player has, like the original game. He once again has to explain why the game is delayed.

Before Breath of the Wild comes out Super Mario Run is released in late 2016 with comparatively little advance notice, a game he hopes reaches the broadest possible audience due to its simplicity. He emphasizes that there are no microtransactions so that parents will feel safe letting their children play. He shares his thoughts about Nintendo making mobile games and Pokémon Go’s success.

The NES Classic Edition also releases in late 2016 and there are more retrospective interviews about some of the games he worked on.

Super Nintendo World is announced in late 2016, though we won’t hear more about it for a while.

He describes the Switch as a combination of different play styles that Nintendo has used, but overall he doesn’t do a lot of interviews about it.

Although he was only a “supervisor” on Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle he is interviewed about it several times. He was careful about letting Ubisoft use the Mario IP, but seems quite pleased with the game.

 

2020-2024

Major Releases: Super Nintendo World, Super Mario 3D All-Stars, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Pikmin 4

Overview: Mr. Miyamoto is rarely interviewed to promote specific games by this time, and the big E3 roundtable Q & As are a thing of the past, though he does have two big non-game projects to talk about. During this time he serves as an ambassador for Nintendo more than he talks about the specifics of game design.

Super Mario Bros.’ 35th anniversary is celebrated with more retrospective interviews and the release of Super Mario 3D All-Stars, though he seems to have barely been involved with its promotion.

Mr. Miyamoto does a tour of Super Nintendo World and there are many interviews about it as more locations open.

There are several Nintendo Directs, and eventually interviews, discussing The Super Mario Bros. Movie. After decades of hearing it he says he doesn’t like being called the Steven Spielberg of gaming.

Pikmin 4 releases and Mr. Miyamoto makes his first appearance in a Ask the Developer interview.

 

More About the Archive and its Entries

I have not included anything that someone has said about Mr. Miyamoto, or their recollections of something they heard him say. This would not only make this archive unmanageable, but such recollections are less reliable than a recorded interview. Minor appearances where Mr. Miyamoto does not speak are usually not included, but may be if they are deemed important.

Final names for games and systems are always used, even if they are referred to by code names in the interview. I also use the full name of a game, series, or peripheral at least once before shortening it. North American English names are used when possible, though not when a very specific thing like the Famicom Disk System and not the Nintendo Entertainment System is being talked about.

I generally use the earliest recorded archive of a web page possible. A surprising amount of these have additional photographs that have disappeared from the article over time.

Mr. Miyamoto uses the term “network game” or “network play” a lot and I have changed most of these to “online”. I don’t know if this is a translation quirk or somewhat old-fashioned word usage on his part, but it does consistently seem to be how he refers to online features.

Abbreviations are generally avoided to make things easier to read for those not familiar with various gaming jargon.

This archive will be updated periodically as more is found and Mr. Miyamoto continues to give new interviews, but don’t expect up to the minute reporting.

How Entries are Formatted

The publication and the title, when applicable, are on top in big blue letters. If the article is a publication reporting on another publication’s article or if the entry has not been translated it will also appear here in parenthesis.

Publication Date: This is when the entry was published, not necessarily when it took place. Magazines are listed as the month that appears on the cover, but these are often a few weeks ahead of when they actually start to go on sale. Sometimes only a year is known.

Subject(s): The major topics, including games and systems being talked about.

Format: The most common format will be a transcribed interview, where every word of an interview has been written down. Video and radio interviews are just listed as “Interview”. Q & As involve a group of people taking turns asking questions. There are also presentations, which are speeches and often include game play footage. Demonstrations involve someone playing the game in real time. There are a few essays, which refers to written works even if they are very short. There are some social media posts from Miiverse and X.

People: This field lists the people involved, including interviewers, translators, and other people people being interviewed. It generally does not include people who weren’t there when Mr. Miyamoto was being interviewed. Some interviews also include quotes from people providing further context on a story, they are not included. Sometimes it seems as though an interviewer will get to ask several people a few questions over e-mail, and those answers are mixed together in an article. In those cases only the interviewer and Mr. Miyamoto are included in this field.

Link: A link to the source in English. I always try to get the original whenever possible rather than reports about it, but it’s not always possible.

Archive Link: A link to an archived version. Many sites change how their URLs are formatted or just go offline over the years, so it’s important to keep a more permanent version.

Japanese Link: The original source in Japanese, whenever possible. Occasionally this is a language other than Japanese.

Japanese Archive Link: An archive of the original source in whatever language.

Scans: If the entry is about a magazine interview I will provide scans whenever possible.

Translator: I want to make sure the people who do the hard work of translation are explicitly credited here whenever possible. This field only applies to non-official sources, or fan translations.

Notes: Pertinent context or other information often goes here, such as what event an interview took place at.

Summary: It’s important to note that these summaries only include Mr. Miyamoto’s statements, I have not included others who are part of the interview or event and sometimes I have reworded things a bit to include enough of the question to provide context. Please do not quote from the summaries as if they are direct quotes from Mr. Miyamoto, refer to the original source.

For summaries I have tried to be concise while keeping interesting details. Always check the source if something sounds odd or doesn’t make sense.

“He” in the summary will almost always always refer to Shigeru Miyamoto, and I have tried to make it very obvious when it isn’t. “They” generally refers to Nintendo or the team Mr. Miyamoto was working with.

I generally skip over statements about not being to answer a question, thanking someone, hoping that players enjoy a game, or descriptions of how the controls work.

 

How You Can Help

If you find an interview, video, social media post, book passage or whatever else where Mr. Miyamoto speaks or writes that is not covered in the archive please contact me on twitter or e-mail me at thespritecell@gmail.com. Also feel free to contact me if you see a typo or if you spot some kind of formatting issue.

There are also still several untranslated interviews in Japanese, French, Spanish, and more, easily findable by text searching for “untranslated”. If you have the knowledge necessary consider translating one of these.

 

1985-1989 | 1990-1994 | 1995-1999 | 2000-2004 | 2005-2009 | 2010-2014 | 2015-2019 | 2020-2024

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