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



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.

Ishaan Sahdev
About The Author
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.