Close-Up: Shigeru Miyamoto  

Revolutionizing an Industry, cont.
by Elliot Guisinger

   After a successful launch of Donkey Kong and later, Donkey Kong Junior and Donkey Kong 3, Miyamoto set out on yet another project, a sort-of spin-off from the Donkey Kong games. This game would star Jumpman on his own adventure. Though Miyamoto had named the carpenter Jumpman, the people at Nintendo of America weren't happy with the name, so they decided to rename Jumpman after the owner of the warehouse they had rented, Mario Segali. Also, someone had mentioned that the character looked more like a plumber than a carpenter, so in this new game, Miyamoto decided he would put the newly renamed Mario in the sewers of New York. The game would be a race between two players, one controlling Mario and the other controlling Mario's brother, Luigi, to see who could collect five coins first. Released in 1983, Mario Bros. was an instant arcade smash-hit.

   In 1984, Nintendo was making plans to enter the home console market with its Famicom (short for Family Computer) system. When released in the United States, the Famicom would go under the name Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Needing to create games for the Famicom, Yamauchi once again went to Miyamoto. Promoted to head the newly created entertainment division, Miyamoto was asked to make plans for the most innovative games possible. The result was games such as Wild Gunman and Duck Hunt, which utilized the Nintendo lightgun. Still, the one game that would break all records, make history, and turn the Famicom into a requirement for every living room was Super Mario Bros. This latest adventure of the two fraternal plumbers involved saving a princess from the evil Bowser.


   Memories of childhood explorations and discoveries can be seen in virtually all of Miyamoto's work today. However, none of these experiences show through in the games as much as they do in Mr. Miyamoto's masterpiece Legend of Zelda series. Zelda tells the story of Link, a curious, young adventurer in a vast world of dungeons, forests, caves, and cities. In each game, his quest involves saving his land and the princess of the kingdom of Hyrule, Zelda from Ganon, the king of thieves. The first Zelda title was released in 1987 for the NES and went on to become the first stand-alone title to sell one million units. The game would end up topping out at over 6.5 million units sold worldwide. The Legend of Zelda is considered by many to be the game that shaped the action-RPG genre into what it is today. It can be said that every action-RPG since Zelda has borrowed some innovation that came from Zelda, which has made the games and the genre so successful.

   In the years to come, Miyamoto would go from being director of his own games, to producer. This promotion meant a lot to him, as it meant that he was now on the same level as his long-time idol, George Lucas. Nintendo also went on to release sequels to its hit titles Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. Even later, the second sequel to the Mario franchise, Super Mario Bros. 3 would become one of Nintendo's most successful stand-alone games. The game made over $500 million in the United States alone. Back then, the only entertainment-related product to sell more than Mario 3 was the movie, E.T.

   Soon afterwards, Miyamoto began developing games for Nintendo's top-secret new console, the Super Famicom (Super Nintendo in the U.S.). Groundbreaking games such as The Legend of Zelda - A Link to the Past, Super Mario Kart and Star Fox, with its use of the Super FX chip, continued to make Shigeru Miyamoto and Nintendo household names.

   It wasn't until the release of the Nintendo 64 that Miyamoto could finally bring his vision of how video games should be to life in an accurate way. The result was Super Mario 64, the first game directed by Miyamoto since he was promoted to the position of producer. The game has since been hailed as the definitive 3D adventure game. The video game genius continued to pour out best-selling titles such as Mario Kart 64, F-Zero X, and the award-winning Legend of Zelda - Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64.


   Several years after the release of the Nintendo 64, Nintendo launched its GameCube platform, yet another medium and a step up for Miyamoto to bring his visions to life. Luigi's Mansion, Super Mario Sunshine, and The Legend of Zelda - The Wind Waker were among Miyamoto's most acclaimed titles for the GameCube. At the time of this writing, Miyamoto is hard at work to bring yet another Zelda title to the world for the GameCube console. This one will feature breath-taking, realistic visuals and a more serious, adult look for the game's hero, Link.

   So far, Shigeru Miyamoto has worked on most of the best-received titles for Nintendo's latest system, the hand-held, dual-screened Ninendo DS. A remake of Super Mario 64 was launched with the system and helped to get the DS off the ground. Miyamoto also produced the recently-released Wario Ware: Touched!, which is a collection of over a hundred micro-games that utilize the DS's touch screen. Soon to be released in the coming months is Animal Crossing DS, the first game to take full advantage of the DS's wireless internet capabilities. Also on the horizon by Miyamoto are Metroid Prime: Hunters and an all-new as-yet-untitled Mario adventure.

   What the future may bring for Nintendo is anyone's guess, except perhaps for Mr. Miyamoto's. What's for sure, though, is that the continued ingenuity of the game genius will ensure Nintendo's continued success in the years to come. With yet another 'revolutionary' new Nintendo console on the horizon, there are no boundaries for Miyamoto's innovative ideas. All one can do is hope to keep up with Nintendo, wherever it's heading, as it's sure to be an unforgettable experience.

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Sources: N-Sider | Miyamoto Shrine

Currents - News Column: 03.29.2005

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