Nintendo President Interested In Intellectually Stimulating Games

By Ishaan . July 9, 2011 . 11:59am

Nintendo’s identifiable trademark is an aesthetic that’s outwardly child-friendly and playful. This extends even to games such as Super Mario Galaxy 2, which may not be as easy to play for younger kids but still give off the sense of a children’s cartoon.


Beyond the fans of these games exist a set of players that would like to see Nintendo develop more games aimed specifically at an older audience. Judging by the company’s recent shareholder meeting, at least one of Nintendo’s shareholders would like to see the same.


Speaking to Nintendo president, Satoru Iwata, the shareholder stated he’d like Nintendo to develop games “which adults can enjoy more”.


Iwata provided an answer. “There are two aspects of the suggestion ‘there should be software which adults can enjoy further’ that I would like to touch on,” he began. “One is that even though such software titles already exist, we have failed to make them widely known.”


“And second,” he continued, “because games were originally entertainment mainly enjoyed by children or young men, even though we have been working hard to expand the age range and offer entertainment which can be enjoyed by a wide range of people, we still have more work to do.”


“If I understand your request correctly, you want Nintendo to develop games which fulfil people’s intellectual curiosity by combining culture and entertainment in a clever way, so I would like to consider it as a future challenge for us.”

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  • Phlo

    As nice as that sounds on paper, I bet he’s really talking about more Brain Training games.

    • Considering he says “these games exist but we’ve failed to market them,” no, I don’t think he is. Brain Training/Brain Age sold boatloads. :)

  • The first paragraph is kind of confusing, I dont think that aesthetic extends to the Metroid Prime games or Sin & Punishment Star Successor.

    Nintendo’s answer was baffling. Other companies dont seem to have issues with specifically making known games that appeal to older wider audiences…Heavy Rain sold better than expected and quite a few series have sizeable older fanbases.

    Are they basically saying instead of developing separate titles, they just want to make the same titles appeal to all? How is that different than what they do already? 
    I can hardly ever agree with anything this company says. 

  • gatotsu911

    Well hell, I’d love to see Nintendo attempt a high-concept game. Maybe they could get those Monolith folks to help out – they’ve clearly done their homework, and presumably have matured a great deal since their days of Xenogearsian wackiness and adolescent excess.

    On an semi-unrelated note, it really kills me how Reggie keeps making me want to forget about Nintendo while Iwata keeps drawing me back in.

    • I so feel the same regarding Reggie and Iwata. :>

  • As vague as all that sounds (where do we draw the line when words like ‘adult’ and ‘intellectual’ come into play?) they really seem to lack these type of games.

    Zelda, Pikmin and Metroid are not THAT though provoking. Layton and Phoenix Wright are practically exclusive ot their systems, but not their own stuff. Cing is gone. Mother and Famicom Detective Club are not exactly alive either.

    Oh and: “One is that even though such software titles already exist, we have failed to make them widely known.” Speaks for itself and I agree.

  • kylehyde

    I think that the note is really clear about what kind of game he refers, and those are games that adults can enjoy like Brian Age.

    • badmoogle

      I’ll just quote Ishaan:
      “Considering he says “these games exist but we’ve failed to market them,”
      no, I don’t think he is. Brain Training/Brain Age sold boatloads. :)”

      • kylehyde

        what @Suicunesol:disqus said.

  • badmoogle

    Firstly it would have been pointless to make ambitious “mature” games (like Heavy Rain for example) on Wii since the target groups of those types of games want the graphics  to be as high-end as possible.These games would automatically fail no matter how hard Nintendo would’ve tried to market them.

    Secondly if we’re speaking about mature hardcore games i’m affraid it’s something that would have also ended up as a lost battle,since Nintendo decided to market their image as THE casual friendly console of this generation.I think they failed to convince even their own longtime fans in this generation that they were seriously interested in any point to produce mature hardcore games with the exception of Zelda and a few others that they marketed terribly.

    I think there is a big audience out there,who grew up with Japanese playstation,N64 and PS2 games who are still starving in this generation for the types of games they used to love and who Sony and MS have (for the most part) decided to ignore with all this shooter frenzy they oversaturated the market.This is the type of audience who likes mature,artistic games (in the style of Team Ico for example) and of which i think it’s possible for Nintendo to win them if they make a solid marketing plan that is backed up with lots of quality games.Unfortunatelly so far their “commitment” to bring back the core gamers sounds only as empty PR talk judging by their shady presentation of Wii U and the reluctance of NoA to bring over games that appeal to exactly the type of audience that Nintendo should be trying to please as much as possible.

  • Suicunesol

    Err, Ishaan. Don’t you mean “intellectually stimulating“?

    Iwata’s answer is a bit vague, in my opinion. “…Games which adults can enjoy more.” What kind of games are those? Are they FPS’s? Are they brain-age style games? Are they games with obvious mature themes that deal with violence and sex? Games that aren’t designed for kids, or should I say games that kids are not supposed to play?

    Or maybe it’s a game only adults would have the capacity and wisdom to understand? A Shakespearean game about the purpose of life, for example?

    • Nope it simulates the intellect of anyone in the world

      • Dimentionalist

        So that’s what the vitality sensor was for…

    • Whoops. Nice catch. Fixed. :)

  • More games like Xenoblade, The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower. *nods*

    • PrinceHeir

      yup2 :D

  • gumby_trucker

    He may be talking about games like Endless Ocean and its sequel, which play pretty much like an interactive National Geographic Documentary. Both sold alright for new IPs but nothing amazing considering Nintendo’s standards. Another game may be the Japan exclusive Kensax, which sounds to me like a high-tech evolution of the cross-word puzzle. Any other ideas?

    • gumby_trucker

      Just to help drive home my point about the educational value of Endless Ocean, I did learn genuinely interesting facts about marine biology and ecology from that game which I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. The game features some fantastical elements in its plot, but for the most part they aren’t out of the realm of possibility, and it’s pretty easy to draw the line between what’s fact and what’s fiction when playing the game.
      Here’s an example of a surprising fact I learned from observing the game:
      in game shot:
      vs. real life:

      I actually came back to that same spot a few days layer and was indeed met by infant sharks where the eggs used to be! It felt like a genuine National Geographic moment right there :)

    • You know, I actually though of Endless Ocean as a possibility, too. Something that’s educational, but presented in a game-like way that appeals to your curiosity. There’s a lot of scope for even games like that to incorporate the things that more traditional gamers look for. I hope it happens; there’s so much potential to educate people using games.

      • gumby_trucker

        I have a theory that this is a direction Iwata has been considering for some time. I don’t know if this is unique, but whereas the president of Nintendo is usually credited on every game as “Executive Producer” or something similar, Iwata actually appears as one of the “directors” in the credits for Blue World.

        Not sure what that means, but it seems to indicate a greater level of involvement than usual, and that would make sense if the game had a strategic significance for the company.

  • sandra10

    I’m almost sure he’s talking about Fire Emblem and Advance Wars. They have to be the most mature, thought provoking, never marketed 1st party franchises they have. 

    It wouldn’t hurt to make some narrative driven or concept driven games. And maybe flesh out the stories a bit better in your established series like Zelda. Just avoid what Other M did.

  • SirRichard

    Hey Nintendo, remember Cing? Their games were intellectually stimulating; if you actually marketed them a bit more maybe you’d have gotten somewhere. I know Nintendo of Europe did try with Another Code R (they gave it a chance and compared it to a novel in the bit of advertising it got), but they could try a bit harder.

    The success of Layton proves, if nothing else, that there is a decent audience out there for quirky little puzzle games, you just have to market them right. It also proved that Nintendo of Europe knows how to get those puzzle games out to people when they do try.

    • Layton was a different case though. It was a very different art style and the series didn’t take off until all of Nintendo adopted NOE’s marketing, putting the box art emphasis on puzzles and brain teasers. Hotel Dusk and Trace Memory are very, very different scenarios, manga aesthetic being one of the obstacles.

      • SirRichard

        For Hotel Dusk, yeah, it’s a different scenario, but I do think that Nintendo could succeed with Another Code if they aimed it at Layton’s audience. The aesthetic isn’t an issue (at least, not over here); I know people who played Layton simply because they thought it looked like a Ghibli film. Play up the puzzles and art style in the marketing, and there’s a chance it could work.

        As for Hotel Dusk, well, they could play it off as an interactive detective novel, something akin to Agatha Christie’s Poirot works. 

        • Layton is popular for several reasons. In Japan, it’s because they hire famous actors to voice the characters. In the U.S. and Europe, people approach it as a successor to Brain Age. There’s also the art style, which is a lot more western-friendly than something like Another Code.

          Another Code, sadly, has no specific audience, which makes it a hard game to market. Retailers frown upon anime games, and even within the anime market, it’s a game in a niche genre. :(

  • Jirin

    I’d like to see games with stories as ambitious as, say, Xenogears or Final Fantasy Tactics, only *cough* finished and thoroughly beta tested.  Even Xenosaga which tried to be that ambitious ended up having more younger-oriented dialog and simplified combat.

    There is an issue in the US that a lot of the adults who like Japanese culture prefer the Japanese culture that’s intended for Japanese teenagers.  That’s why the more mature-themed anime such as ‘Monster’ doesn’t get released in the US. (Or, 15 episodes of it get released, nobody buys it, and the rest gets canned and aired only on Cartoon Network with the English dub.)

    • Asura

      Monster gets aired on cartoon network?

      And yes, seinen is not appreciated enough.

    • Suicunesol

      Really? I was under the impression that most adults in the US don’t like Japanese anime pop-culture at all. They like Western art style games. I thought that was the real issue.

    • Hm? A Monster was aired on Sci-Fi, the whole series dubbed if I recall and made available to purchase on iTunes, and had a boxset released in print, as well as being available in its completion on streaming, subbed, on netflix, all in the US. Cartoon NEtwork isnt the only channel that needs to air anime…

    • gatotsu911

      I was with you up until the end there. Monster was aired in its entirety on several networks. And frankly, it contained some pretty ridiculous and juvenile plot elements itself (enough for me to drop it out of exasperation). And GOD FORBID anyone should watch an anime series dubbed for any reason.

    • gatotsu911

      Also, as others have pointed out, Monster was never aired on Cartoon Network at all. What is aired on Cartoon Network, among other things, is Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell; that is, anime intended for adults.

    • gatotsu911

      Also also, what “mature-themed” anime are you thinking of that haven’t been licensed in the US? Make sure to check and see whether they actually have been licensed before listing them. And LoGH doesn’t count.

    • Aoshi00

      Monster and the like is seinen meaning just a step above shounen, there’s actually a lot more mature otona manga that never get released in the US because most American adults aren’t really into anime/manga style at all, let alone manga intended for adults. And most anime are adopted from manga geared toward a younger demographic, otona manga don’t usually get adapted into anime, but to drama or movies.

      • Yesshua

        Hey there, if you wouldn’t mind, are there any of these adult manga that have been translated you can recommend?  I appreciate the art that goes into these things, but all the stories have just seemed… childish.  It has always amazed me how passionate grown humans have gotten over Dragon Ball or Black Butler or whatever the flavor of the week is.  Are there actually good things out there?  Japanese graphic novels on tier with Watchmen or The Sandman?

        • Aoshi00

          I’m not sure, I don’t really read manga translated in English, nowadays it’s only Viz bringing over most shounen jump titles right.  If you have ever been to a Book Off (used Jpn bookstore) and go to Otona section, there’s definitely a lot more mature manga for adults..  I don’t have time to watch anime anymore, but I still do read some manga (mostly shounen/seinen/Jump SQ) since I continue to follow many of my favorite artists, like Watsuki, Togashi, etc.. I don’t think shounen manga are necessarily juvenile, they are more exciting and adventurous compared to otona manga which deals w/ society, politics, philosophy, sexuality, war, history, or everyday life.. they just deal w/ totally different subject.. I always see the new issues of Kami no Shizuku in Kinokuniya, I think it’s a manga about wine..

          Dragonball is a classic, I grew up w/ it as a kid and Toriyama is still one of my fav artists, I don’t think I would ever not like it.  Japan has many types of manga for all ages just like we have movies in many genres for everyone.. of course not everything gets translated since most normal people in the US other than fans don’t care about manga..

          Currently I’m still reading Ulitmo, Btooom, Claymore, Hunter x Hunter (new vol 27 finally out this month and vol 28 coming out in August, always like Togshi’s writing), Embalming, Kuroko’s Basketball, Takkoku, Shiki.. I just found this new manga drawn by the artist of Eyeshield 21, Donten Prism Solor Car, about this group of college students and their dream for solar race car, 2 volumes now, I’m reading the first one and it’s quite good..  there’s a new manga by the artist of Parasyte, Historia, but I’ve only read the first volume, not sure if that has been translated… I’ve been buying Bakuman for 2 yrs but it’s on backlog.. really can’t stand Obata Takeshin’s new art *.*..

          I don’t think all graphic novels have to be like Watchmen to be fun to read either..

  • Darkrise

    Just give us something like a continuation of Xenosaga that was promised to us years ago… Or Xenogear remake, and Xenoblade would be very nice for NA.

    • HistorysGreatestMonster

      Xenosaga is owned by Namco-Bandai. Xenogears is owned by Square-Enix. Xenoblade would be possible, though.

  • Not sure what he means here, but I’m all for games with an engrossing narrative, especially the kind where the audience has to do a little mindwork for themselves about the story and characters.  

    • Yesshua

      Well, that’s the start of it.  The way I see it there are three levels of storytelling.  The first level is where Nintendo usually hangs out.  It’s plain, straightforward storytelling.  What you need to know is told to you, and it’s spaced out for maximum dramatic effect.

      The second level is similar to the first, but includes ambiguity.  I think that’s what you’re talking about.  Stories that don’t spell everything out.  Stories that are enhanced by multiple readings (or playings in this case), and stories that different people can take totally different things away from.  Nintendo doesn’t do this too terribly often.  Metroid Other M did I guess.  You could take a ton of different things away from that story (as the fan flame wars proved).

      And then there’s the third level, where you’re actually talking about something else entirely.  You know, literary stuff.  The story of “The Scarlet Letter” isn’t actually about a little girl and her mom and an evil doctor.  It’s Nathaniel Hawthorne preaching about the evils of lying and not being true to yourself (does it show I don’t like that book?).  Games do this rarely.  Silent Hill does it.  Lots of indie games do it.  There are a few others.  Nintendo does this… never.  I can’t think of a Nintendo narrative that really examines any facet of humanity with significant depth.

      Hang on, maybe Majora’s Mask.  That game is a terrifying glimpse into the transition from child to adult, and how the change is inevitable no matter what you do.  The responsibility and change can be postponed incrementally, but it cannot be stopped.  Ever.  The clock is ticking.

      Anyway, I wish Nintendo would get out of their comfort zone and try storytelling tiers two and three out.  A lot of us wish they would.  They’re good at making games, and games can tell stories in unique and wonderful ways.  Now if only they were invested in storytelling.

      • gumby_trucker

        Yet another reason to appreciate Yoshio Sakamoto. Say what you will about Other M’s story execution, the man is single-handedly responsible for there being a ‘story-department’ at all in Nintendo, with his founding of Team Shikimaru (perhaps ‘department’ is too big a word, but you catch my drift…).

        The main reason I am so forgiving of the flaws in some of his games is because of his constant desire to see Nintendo step out of their comfort zone.

      • gatotsu911

        I think there’s a fair amount of crossover, or at least potential for crossover, between the “types” you list. One can have a narrative that is satisfying on its own terms, but also functions as allegory, and it can contain any amount of ambiguity (though heavily allegorical works typically contain a lot of it).

        Anyway, Nintendo certainly hasn’t put out a lot of games that are heavy on complex storytelling or allegory, that’s for sure (although you could probably make an argument about symbolism and allegory in the Mother series… maybe). Their games aren’t exactly didactic – they have few auteurs, and what auteurs they have (Miyamoto, Koizumi) generally seek more to entertain than to express. They are, first and foremost, entertainers, not artists. That’s not a criticism, because historically they’ve been among the best in their field when it comes to constructing pure entertainment, and at times their pieces of entertainment, almost inadvertantly, flirt with art. Miyamoto specifically and Nintendo in general have often been compared to Steven Spielberg, and aptly so. Now, would I like to see them temporarily take a break from making ET and Indiana Jones to make a Schindler’s List or a Munich? I’m gonna say hell yeah. Nintendo have demonstrated their mastery of the medium in its purest form – as entertainment and adventure. Art is the use of aesthetic craftsmanship in a representational work to convey idea(s) and/or emotion(s). Nintendo’s best have mastered the craft. Now I’d like to see them tackle the Big Ideas. That is what it means to be intellectually stimulating, and I’m glad gaming as a medium is reaching a level of maturity at which the CEO of a major developer, publisher and manufacturer can talk about this.

  • Sadly, a growing number of people equate “intellectually stimulating” with “hard”… in America. :s

    • gatotsu911


    • puchinri

      Hah, that is true sadly. And we don’t want games being difficult, heaven forbid.

      • No wonder Americans find Tower of Druaga hard and would rather play #Touhou on #EasyMODO. xD

        • puchinri

          Lol, I know, right? x’D

    • “Intellectually stimulating” should be difficult, at first. Eventually the player will recognize patterns and form strategies to improve their performance, “stimulating” the “intellectual” regions of the brain. This is called “learning”, and most players worldwide have an aversion to learning.

  • Intelligent games that can be enjoyed by everyone, of all ages? I think of Scribblenauts, because everyone can have fun with it. It had puzzles, bright colours, a good sense of humour, and a reference to Lovecraftian horrors. It might not be a Nintendo game, but that’s the best example of an intelligent game that I can think of.. on a nintendo platform. :X

    I mean sure, Fire Emblem’s awesome, but is it attractive to children? I’m not so sure.

  • Before you know it, we’ll have the NY Times Crossword Puzzle Wii Edition. >__>

    • lostinblue

      I think it’s more deeply tied to Iwata’s love for RPG’s.

  • If Nintendo is able to get more 3rd party support for the Wii U they can at least try releasing more adult oriented games.

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