Interview with Shigeru Miyamoto Volumes 1 and 2
Nintendo Channel (December 2010)
Made for the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., this two-part video interview with Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto was posted on the U.S. Nintendo Channel in December 2010. Miyamoto looks back on the release of Super Mario Bros., talks about Mario appearing in other games, and even touches on Vs. Super Mario Bros. during the 13-and-a-half-minute interview.
When the videos were pushed off of Nintendo Channel's home screen after a few months, the interview appeared to be gone for good, since it's not linked anywhere else in the channel. Thanks to NintenDaan, who saved the videos when they were available, this piece of Mario's recent history has stayed alive on YouTube.
The following is our transcription of the original subtitles with a few additions in brackets.
Interview with Shigeru Miyamoto Vol.1
25 Years: Looking Back
We wanted to make a game where we could pack in everything we knew about making cartridge games. A game that fully utilized the Famicom hardware. I still remember that the game was released on Sept. 13. And actually, it was Friday the 13th. I remember thinking that if it were being released on a day like that, the memory would stick with me in the future. We didn't choose that date on purpose. It just happened.
Of course we wanted to sell the game during summer break. We didn't make it. Around July I realized we wouldn't and talked to the person in charge of manufacturing. And, I think this is what's really unique, what's good about our company. He just said "Oh, well."
"We'd feel better to make something that would continue to sell, so why don't you make it until you're happy?" So he gave us about 3 more weeks.
In those 3 to 4 weeks we worked on last minute details like adjusting coins and fixing bugs. You set aside little bits of memory to fix bugs. When they were fixed we used the extra memory to change things like adding 3 more blocks. We adjusted things to the last minute.
Small Team's Effort
[Takashi] Tezuka-san and I work [sic] on the game's concept and design. And a younger designer helped us with pixel art. [Koji] Kondo-san wrote and programmed the music and sound effects. There were about 7 to 8 of us.
The programmer suggests ideas too. We all worked on it together, and I rounded it all up. I'm the last one who gives up. I want to do everything. But if I do we can't finish. So the greediest person has to give up. That's the job of the director.
Lots of Hidden Secrets
Whether I play while I'm working or not, I like trading information with others. It was right when I was working on The Legend of Zelda. We made sure that the game had a lot of depth. We thought Mario should have that too. Talking about tips you knew, trying to figure out the fireworks, you can find all kind [sic] of unexpected things in different places. It's fun talking about things you know to people, and you like talking about it so you try to find more. It was a time that I started to realize that it was important to make a sharable experience that went beyond the moment you're playing.
I knew it was going to sell like hot cakes. [laughs] I'm kidding! Selling a million is one of the goals in the Japanese market. A million was the expectation in Japan and we felt we could reach that. But sales far exceeded that and we couldn't have predicted that.
While making a prototype for Donkey Kong, the testers didn't go home even though they're done for the day. I felt the same thing from the testers on Super Mario Bros. I remember saying to Tezuka-san that "This time I think we're onto something big".
Release in America
We've been making games since Donkey Kong so we always kept the American audience in mind. What was lucky for us was that we made Super Mario Bros. just in time for the launch of the NES. We all felt that having people play this would be the best way to show that the NES was really an entertainment system. So we bundled this game to make sure everyone would play it. We did this because we believed that playing this game was the best way to show what's good about this new entertainment system. We made it just in time. We were fortunate.
Mario in the Eyes of Miyamoto
I worked on characters like Super Mario, Link, Pikmin, and lately Mii characters. I think of all of them from the game system. Like when I make Wii Fit, it's possible for me to have Mario appear in it. I feel like I'm the owner of a talent agency. Mario can appear in various occasions, and Pikmin can appear in big groups. Mii characters are good when we want the player to feel as if they're in the game, or when playing with everyone in the family. That's how I make games. He's the one that can appear in multiple settings the most. He can play sports, he can be comedic. He's got a lot of great talent.
I'd almost put him in games without a reason. It started with Punch-Out!!. Mario and Donkey Kong were in the audience. Mario was also a tennis referee. People get so happy saying "hey, it's Mario!" Things like that was a part of my challenge. Well, it may not have been a challenge, I had fun doing it.
Super Mario in the Future
When I first made Super Mario I decided to make a game with him every time there would be advancements in video game technology. A big reason he became 3D was because the Nintendo 64 was made. This brought 3D rendering to people's homes.
Famicom's cartridge memory capacity increased so we made Super Mario Bros. 3, the Super NES was made so we made Super Mario World. Mario evolved like that.
So the future of Mario depends on how video game technology evolves. And we'll continue to accept new technology and have fun making games, whenever that moment may be. It's important that people who are making games have fun making them. Even if it's hard work, we'll keep working with a smile on our face.
Interview with Shigeru Miyamoto Vol.2
Super Mario Bros.
First I made Donkey Kong. I actually wanted to make it scroll. But the circuit board wasn't capable of doing that so we made 4 various levels where each can be shown in a single screen. And that worked out pretty well. When you play on a fixed screen you can plan things out because you can see the entire level.
Then I made Mario Bros. It's also a fixed screen so you can see everything. You can see the entire screen to plan your strategy. Around that time I wanted to make a scrolling game that you're able to play in a vast area. So I made Excitebike and worked on porting a game called Kung Fu Master. While working on those I wanted to make a new game where you can strategize while scrolling sideways in long distances. And I wanted to get away from the black backgrounds. I did focus on making a game that was easy on the eyes, but I also wanted it to pop and leave an impact. I wanted to leave a strong impression when players are aboveground or underground. That's why I made the sky as the background.
Super Mario Bros. 2
Super Mario Bros. 2 is actually a different game in Japan. There was an event held by a TV station in Japan called "Dream Factory" and what we made in collaboration with that was what eventually became Super Mario Bros. 2.
4 playable characters appear and play by yanking vegetables from the ground. I made sure to make each character feel different. You can clear the same course four times using different characters. You can choose what character you like best, and brag that you beat the game using each character. For this game I felt that we did a good job in leaving it up to the players on which character they like best to play in a way they like.
Super Mario Bros. 3
In Super Mario Bros. 3 I had Tezuka-san start working on it freely, and then I came in eventually to work on it together.
The Raccoon Mario. It was a lot of fun mixing new features like that and the scrolling mechanics. We maximized the Famicom system's capabilities in Super Mario Bros. but since then the cartridge memory capacity increased. We were able to use a lot more characters with bank switching. Now we were able to do a lot more.
Tezuka-san came up with a lot of different ideas. One of them was a hat. It had ears on it and was the cutest of them. I liked how Mario would fly slowly while waggling his tail. Long ago in Japan it was said that raccoons can transform. Such superstition probably doesn't exist in America. Raccoons were thought to put a leaf on top of their head and poof! Transform into different things. I thought that was great and it became Tanooki Mario. There are stone statues called Jizo that are often found in Japanese streets. I thought it would be great if it stomped on enemies. I knew that it wouldn't make sense outside Japan, but it seemed like a lot of fun so we made into [sic] the Tanooki Suit. We all had fun while we were making it.
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
There was an arcade system called the VS system that was based off of the Famicom. We decided to use that to make Super Mario and we started changing the levels because we could. As we played with it we made very challenging levels. We thought it would be fun if the levels got even harder, and we worked on it. They were a lot of fun. Of course it was fun because we made the game and were used to play [sic], and we weren't sure if this would be fun for people who never played. But we were certain that this was a lot of fun for those who played Super Mario Bros. immensely. We made it so you could get infinite 1-UPs from the beginning to prepare you for the levels to come, and some of those levels would whacky [sic] or defy the laws of physics. We made it adding those things and it was fun. But we thought it would be hard for first time players so we put a sticker on the package that said "For Super Players". In America this was released as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, but how is it? Is it really hard? [laughs]
A Message to the Viewers
Super Mario is an interactive character. When people ask me what kind of a game Super Mario Bros. is I say that it's important for the developer to be creative, but it's also important for the players to be creative. It's up to the players to visualize how they should approach a level. And we react to that interactively with our programming. We think this interaction is what defines Mario's character. The game becomes more fun as the players visualize how to play. That's what makes a Mario game. I think it's important for me to keep making Mario games so people will continue to have fun. I will continue making Mario games using new technology so you can keep having more fun.
I hope you'll play our games for a long time. What's fun about Mario games are how you can have fun with it as a family when you grow up and have children. Thank you.