Miyamoto Explores Design Philosophy In Celebration Of Mario’s 25th Anniversary

By Ishaan . September 24, 2010 . 3:29pm


Industry legend and general manager at Nintendo, Shigeru Miyamoto, in celebration of Mario’s 25th anniversary, shared a table with Shigesato Itoi, who is best known for creating the Earthbound franchise, and together, the two of them attempted to address the subject of where they draw inspiration and ideas from.


This feature, dubbed “Itoi Asks in Place of Iwata,” is one of the longer internal Nintendo interviews conducted to date, so instead of attempting to summarize it or focus on a single point, we’re going to give you a brief bullet-list of choice quotes and ideas Itoi and Miyamoto discuss.


  • “I’ve tended to think of [Gunpei] Yokoi-san as my master. Once when I was in a meeting with him, he said to me, “You’re pretty negative,” and that really shocked me.” – Miyamoto


  • “People with well-rounded personalities who can do many things well are necessary sometimes, but you wouldn’t necessarily want everyone to be like that.” – Itoi


  • “When a project is floundering, and an idea put forth is half-and-half-50 percent good and 50 percent bad-it’s no good. But when a project is moving along smoothly, even if 60 percent of the idea is bad, as long as there are some good aspects, you can use it.” – Miyamoto


  • [Referring to the number of ideas designers throw into games today] “In terms of the alphabet, you only had to worry about options A and B. Kids today, who can’t return to the days when there were only a couple options, may have to labor in ways we never did.” – Itoi


  • “That’s why for about ten years I’ve been keeping things simple. But the staff goes to a direction that’s more complicated. That difference is interesting. Something I’d like to say, though-to avoid misunderstanding-is that a company is, in effect, supported by those complicated people.” – Miyamoto


There’s a lot more where that came from, and frankly, the entire discussion is fascinating. Watching someone as outspoken and enthusiastic as Itoi talk shop with Miyamoto opens up a whole can of worms that you likely haven’t seen either one discuss before.

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  • Well I hope he finds a new source, galaxy and galaxy 2 and sunshine were just not as heartfelt, sincere, fun, or exciting, as SM64. They were all just too complicated.

    • kupomogli

      If Galaxy and Galaxy 2 isn’t as, for better words, good as SM64 then the game must suck, because SM64 is terrible.

      • hadjimurad

        unfortunately, i have to agree. i haven’t played a 3D mario that i’ve liked or beaten. not that i don’t like the atmosphere or worlds, it’s just too hard to play. jumping is too imprecise; i fall constantly.

        • That’s why extra lives are handed out like candy in Super Mario Galaxy…

          • Code

            Actually I think lives are handed out like candy to help a wider audience of players from casual to hardcore gamers find success in the games. I have to admit I’m really surprised at all the 3D Mario hate going on here, wow x_x; Also really surprised anyone would have a problem with jumping being “imprecise” if anything to me there’s so few 3D platformers that handle jumping as masterfully as the 3D Mario series.

          • The added spin in Super Mario Galaxy was great for adding to the jumps, too.

          • hadjimurad

            i’m sure many people have no problem with the controls, and the games look great when controlled by someone good. but i’m not one of them. honestly, i’m not comparing 3D mario to other 3D platformers, because i don’t play any. i’m comparing them (control precision) to 2D mario games, which i do play, and, to me, it’s night and day.

      • SM64 is OK, but I see myself always wanting to play Super Mario Sunshine… I liked Sunshine.

  • Code

    rar, always love reading any type of chats with Miyamoto, and especially Itoi! Miyamoto’s games have always really inspired me, but Earthbound by itself left a huge impact on me as a kid. What I find particularly interesting is how they both have a simple approach to games, but in there own unique ways. And how working with younger teams which have brought more choices and sometimes more complicated ideals to the table, which from the sounds of it sometimes Miyamoto needs to topple the tea table, but other times I figure it has changed there work on some levels. The difference between Miyamoto’s team when he worked on the early Mario games coming up with the ideas for worlds and such, but then years later when he was developing new ideas for Pikmin, how working with what was likely a younger generations of game designers, and machines capable of so much more, impacted his ideas and the creation of Pikmin. Although the game has many complicated elements, but like Super Mario Bros. 3, Pikmin 2 that core sense of discovery that is still very prevalent. Even the differences between Earthbound and Mother 3 where it may not have been all that different from technological stand point, but after like 10 years how it’s approach to story telling and characters had changed dramatically. Mother 3 has such a stronger sense of pushing story and characters but it was so much more the focus point then in Earthbound, but Earthbound was just a smorgasbord of concepts, references and ideas from all kinds of people, places, and things. I wonder if Itoi team had an connection to that change or if this has been a change over time in Itoi himself.I find, the sort of, then and now, and how peoples ideas evolve and change over time a curious thing, and just super interesting. These are two people, who’s work I’ve grown up with and can look and see how much things have changed, but at the same time how there is always something about the works which always feels very true to the creator.

  • Gunpei [Yokoi-san] made one of the greatest 2D mario games in the “legendary” Super Mario Land for the GameBoy and in the process outdid Miyamoto!

    • Well, he was Miyamoto’s mentor…

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