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‘Super Mario’ Creator Shigeru Miyamoto on the Future of Gaming

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Shigeru Miyamoto speaks during the Super Mario Run with creator Shigeru Miyamoto at Apple Store Soho (John Lamparski/Getty Images)
Shigeru Miyamoto speaks during the Super Mario Run with creator Shigeru Miyamoto at Apple Store Soho (John Lamparski/Getty Images)

 

With video game Super Mario Run now available for smartphones, Wired interviewed Super Mario Bros. creator Shigeru Miyamoto about the new game and a host of other topics.

As the name suggests, Super Mario Run is a one-button game in which Mario runs automatically. It’s the first game in the franchise to do this, and Miyamoto says the idea was based on watching YouTube speed runs of Nintendo’s NES Mario titles.

“When you look at videos of super players who are very good Super Mario Bros. players, they tend to run all the way through the course without ever stopping,” Miyamoto told Wired. “Our feeling was that by having this iPhone game in which Mario runs automatically and all you do is jump, we would actually have quite a bit of leeway to be able to create something that’s simple and easy for anyone to play.”

Hearing Miyamoto talk about a “simple” game may rankle older gamers all too familiar with the concept of Nintendo Hard, but Miyamoto also said that the limited controls allowed more creativity elsewhere. “We had the idea of layering in the ability to do different styles of jump … through special blocks that enable Mario to do special jumps at certain times in the level,” he said. “It would give even beginner players an opportunity to get a taste for what’s fun about the more skilled style of Mario play.”

The launch screen of Nintendo Co.'s Super Mario Run mobile game is arranged for a photograph on an Apple Inc. iPhone (Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg)
The launch screen of Nintendo Co.’s Super Mario Run mobile game is arranged for a photograph on an Apple Inc. iPhone (Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg)

 

That last sentence about showing beginners how to enjoy gaming, even when it’s difficult, is why Nintendo is still a leader in the console gaming industry. It’s also held Miyamoto’s interest well after he supposedly retired; he’s currently a Creative Fellow at Nintendo and leads their development team the same way a director would. Super Mario Run is the most direct input he’s had in quite some time, as he generally wants to stick to small, experimental projects as his career supposedly winds down.

As for why Nintendo didn’t just port the original Super Mario Bros. game for smartphones and call it a day, Miyamoto said he “… [doesn’t] want to do anything that boring,” and that he’d rather adapt Mario to new technology than simply live in the past.

We’re more interested in looking at how we can be creative with Mario,” he said, “and design for iPhone in a way that takes advantage of the uniquenesses of that device and the uniquenesses of that input and the features that that device has. For us, that is much more rewarding creative work.”

Below, watch a fun clip of Shigeru Miyamoto playing the original Super Mario theme song with the Roots on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.