Shigeru Miyamoto: Retrospective

Shigeru Miyamoto: Retrospective



Of all the visionaries and pioneers of the video game industry there is little doubt the most influential has been Shigeru Miyamoto. From Nintendo originally hiring Miyamoto in 1977 as an artist he has been involved with creating many iconic series including Super Mario Bros, The Legend Of Zelda, Donkey Kong, F- Zero, Star Fox, Pikmin and countless others.

Perhaps his most important achievement was resurrecting the medium from the video game crash in the mid 1980’s. Super Mario Bros. and the Nintendo Entertainment system brought back quality games at a time when the industry was flooded with low quality and sometimes unplayable games.

Setting Standards

The famous Nintendo ‘seal of quality’ was a guarantee that the consumer was purchasing a quality product and this same ethic has stayed with the company until the present day. The mobile market is currently flooded with poor quality titles and reflect the state that the whole industry was in. Miyamoto designed the original arcade game Donkey Kong which was also the companies first major ‘hit’ in the video game medium. Following this was a slew of top NES games including the original Zelda. Miyamoto has said he was inspired from exploring the countryside near Kyoto in his youth. The game was a departure from titles of the time as it wasn’t score based and placed emphasis on exploration rather than platforming.

Miyamoto developed F-Zero for the launch of the Super Nintendo. A futuristic super fast racing game. This title would spawn a successful franchise and wasn’t the only foray into sci fi that Miyamoto and Nintendo would go down. There was also Star Fox developed for the Super Nintendo which used an updated graphics chip that displayed early 3d graphics.

Jumping into 3D

Arguably the biggest challenge for Miyamoto was bringing Nintendo (and possibly the whole industry) into designing games in 3d. Early 3d games often had bad camera angles and dodgy controls. Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Super Mario 64 were developed in conjunction by Miyamoto and his team. The developers bounced ideas between both projects. Despite a long development time both games had tight controls and introduced some staples of modern 3d games. For example, ‘z targeting’. The legacy of these games continues to be felt and both are often considered some of the best games of all time.

The Wii era was an experimental time for Miyamoto full of both ups and downs. The wiimote was a truly innovative device that let people experience games in a different way. Super Mario Galaxy was another great game that put a new spin on 3d platforming. Miyamoto loves playing instruments and with Wii Music he tried to get people to play who didn’t usually play video games (as the Wii in general did). It flopped though despite being a good idea.

Lasting Legacy

Miyamoto’s philosophy has always been to innovate in what he creates and above all to create fun experiences. He doesn’t particularly put emphasis on graphics but many of his games look impressive nonetheless. A famous quote from Miyamoto is that ‘a delayed game will eventually be good but a rushed game will be forever bad’. This implies that he truly cares about his creations. Also that he doesn’t see making games just as a job. It’s a passion for him. For such a new medium as the games industry Miyamoto has been the catalyst for the industry maturing.




About author

Daniel Leal

I love videogame culture and feel it’s a medium with loads of potential. I mainly play Nintendo games as well as a lot of retro stuff. Im currently studying for an MSc.

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