Shigeru Miyamoto
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Nintendo Company Limited
Entertainment Analysis & Development Division
EAD Software Development Department


Shigeru Miyamoto
General Manager of Entertainment Analysis & Development Division
Graphic Design / 1975
College
Kanazawa Munici College of Industrial Arts and Crafts 1970-1974
Companies
Nintendo Company Limited 1975-2012

Shigeru Miyamoto was born on November 16, 1952 in the town of Sonobe, Kyoto. As a child Miyamoto was very adventurous and would explore Sonobe extensively, which would influence his future products at Nintendo. An unwelcoming cave Miyamoto ventured through as a child with a lantern would inspire him when developing The Legend of Zelda. His hobbies were very typical and included activities such as baseball, drawing, painting and puppet shows. Despite not owning a vehicle, Miyamoto's family would manage to travel to Kyoto by train where they would tour the city and watch movies (Miyamoto's favorites were those by Walt Disney; little did he know that he would eventually be considered the "Walt Disney of Video Games"). For most of Miyamoto's childhood his family didn't own a television, but this all changed when he turned eleven and his father brought one home. Miyamoto would watch and become a fan of Japanese animation and manga in middle school and even joined a manga club when he was in high school. Miyamoto, who made manga of his own, knew that when he graduated he wanted to become an artist. Even though it was probably not what he had in mind at the time, he would accomplish his goal after his family, who had lived in Sonobe for three generations, left to Kyoto, where the headquarters of Nintendo is located.

To get started on his goal, Miyamoto decided to attend Kanazawa Munici College of Industrial Arts and Crafts in Kanazawa, Japan. There Miyamoto was more interested in activities other than school and became heavily interested in music. He made an odd instrument choice in the Banjo but was good enough to perform at several venues. His inspirations, mainly Western, included the The Beatles, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Doc Watson. Five years after enrolling at Kanazawa, Miyamoto graduated and soon after was given a proposal to work at Nintendo, then a toy and playing card company, in 1977. Hiroshi Yamauchi, then the president of the company, was a close friend of Miyamoto's father, who had managed to get him an interview. Miyamoto brought with him several devices, toys and concepts he had developed. His ideas consisted of a three-way seesaw, children's clothes hangers with animal designs on them (including a chicken, elephant, and a bird), and a clock that was primarily intended to be used at an amusement park. Yamauchi hired Miyamoto as an artist designing new products for Nintendo. The company, known at the time for not focusing on a single type of product, was perfect for Miyamoto who claimed that he wanted to join because they would let him do exactly what he wanted to. Little did Yamauchi know that he had hired the man who would become the company's most important asset.

By the time Miyamoto was hired, Nintendo was already in the process of developing video games. Miyamoto's first video game was titled Color TV Racing 112. He didn't design any of the gameplay mechanics but rather was tasked with creating the housing unit that would embody the internal structure. Miyamoto saw the flaws present in Color TV Racing 112's predecessors, the Color TV Game 6 and Color TV Game 15. He decided that, in order to appeal to the masses, a wheel would have to be included in the hardware. When creating the mold for the blockbusting title Blockbuster Color TV Game, he decided to make it even more accessible than his previous game. Yamauchi liked his work and put him on future video game projects designing characters for Space Fever, a Space Invaders clone; Sheriff, an original Nintendo hit; and Space Firebird. These were largely insignificant video games that earned Nintendo very little money. Shortly after these games Miyamoto began work on RadarScope, an unsuccessful bomb that led to one of the industry's most beloved arcade games of all time.

RadarScope was intended to appeal to the space-loving game fans of the United States. Featuring intense battles illustrated on the machine, Nintendo was sure they had a hit to infiltrate the American market. Nintendo of America had just opened their doors and Yamauchi's son-in-law, Minoru Arakawa, was tasked with making it a success. There was nothing necessarily wrong with RadarScope, but the company, and Arakawa, became too overzealous and ordered far too many units (well into the thousands). Assembled in Japan, it took several months for the machines to make the long trek across the pacific ocean. By the time they reached North America, the industry had advanced to a point where RadarScope was viewed as an insignificant, underpowered bore to arcade-owners and consumers alike. Arakawa was now sitting on around two thousand machines that he could not sell. Seemingly without a hope in the world, Arakawa was forced to take action and called his father in-law, pleading for a new game to keep the company afloat. A new game would have to be built from the ground up and the chips would have to fit in the preexisting machines. Yamauchi tasked Miyamoto with designing the game. The game he created would be called Donkey Kong, and it would be the start of a new era for Nintendo.

Donkey Kong was unlike anything before it, a sharp contrast to the very conveniently conventional yet derivative RadarScope. Upon hearing the concept of the game, Nintendo of America employees were understandably worried. Pac-Man had made a huge splash in the United States, as has various advanced space shooter games. They wondered what their coworkers in Japan were thinking developing a game where the main concept was climbing up ladders and jumping over barrels thrown by a monkey. Rather than looking heroic the characters looked like they emerged from a Walt Disney cartoon. In most cases their gloomy predictions would be realized, but Donkey Kong was different. Despite their fears, they placed a unit in a single bar within Washington state. A week later the machine was filled to the brim with quarters. Nintendo of America had a sudden change of heart, and Miyamoto would now be on his way to becoming one of the company's greatest blessings. They would now jump from obscurity and become a household name, all because of an angry ape and a pudgy jumping man (whose name was appropriately Jumpman).

Prior to starting Donkey Kong, Nintendo veteran Gunpei Yokoi would bring Miyamoto under his wing and teach him everything he knew in regards to video game development. Yokoi had previously created the Game & Watch franchise and knew several keys to making a successful, accessible video game. Before video games Yokoi was an engineer turned toy designer at Nintendo who became prominent within the company when Yamauchi saw an extending arm contraption he had made. The extending arm, or the Ultra Hand as it would be called, was a huge success during Christmas, selling over one million units. Perhaps Yokoi's greatest achievement was the Game Boy, which he conceptualized. Donkey Kong, while primarily the product of Miyamoto, was so well crafted in part because of Yokoi's assistance. During the restructuring of Nintendo, the two would be given their own teams and would rarely work together again. In 1997 Yokoi unfortunately died due to a car accident after departing from Nintendo.

Upon starting Donkey Kong, Miyamoto's superiors assumed that he was simply going to upgrade RadarScope. It definitely had potential to become better and with the new technology available it probably could have been a minor success. Miyamoto, however, didn't much care for shooting video games and wanted to craft something unique. He felt that shooting games had saturated the market and found that it would be too much a of a challenge to develop something that would be successful. He admired what Tōru Iwatani had done with ''Pac-Man'', but likewise did not want to create something that would be viewed as a "copy" of a preexisting product. He had several ideas in mind, but ultimately knew that he wanted his game to have a story. At first he wanted to craft a game around the lucrative Popeye franchise, but Nintendo was unable to get the licensing rights from King Features Syndicate in America despite the fact that they had already obtained them for Nintendo playing cards. In the original plan, Bluto would have played the role of the villain, Olive Oly the damsel in distress and Popeye the hero. Since his proposition didn't appeal to KFS, he constructed his own characters which he would call Donkey Kong, Pauline and Jumpman. One might wonder how different the video game industry would be had KFS granted Nintendo the rights to Popeye. Regardless of their decision then, KFS eventually allowed Miyamoto to make Popeye games years later for the Famicom. According to Miyamoto, the developers were lucky that there was a single button and a joystick on the arcade cabinets for RadarScope, otherwise the main character would not have been able to jump.

Upon completion, Nintendo sent the new chips to America. Arakawa, his wife and his employees, only a few at the time, tirelessly spent several hours replacing the chips to the old RadarScope machines. The game was successful at one bar but this was hardly enough proof that it would be the massive achievement they had hoped for (though it was a good indication: several other popular arcade games were testdrived at bars and had similar results). It didn't take long for Donkey Kong to become successful, and soon became the biggest arcade game ever made. Miyamoto's product had made Nintendo's name known in what would eventually become their biggest market: North America. It was only the beginning, and the company had to be sure to calculate what they should do going forward. They had a diamond in the rough working at the company and they would inevitably use him as much as possible. Their first order of business, predictably, was creating a sequel to Donkey Kong. Miyamoto liked the ape quite a lot and decided that the sequel, titled Donkey Kong Jr., would focus on his son. He would also make the original title's protagonist, now named Mario, the game's villain.

Following Donkey Kong Jr. Miyamoto worked on developing the Mario character more. He gave him a brother, Luigi, and set his next game in the sewers of Brooklyn, New York. Mario's next adventure, Mario Bros., was released in arcades in 1983. Shortly thereafter Miyamoto worked on his first Famicom video game, Devil World. The constant stream of successes landed Miyamoto a new role at Nintendo where he would be in charge of a whole sector within the company that would develop video games for Nintendo's home systems. Miyamoto's new team would go on to develop hit after hit from ExciteBike to Ice Climber. The biggest game Miyamoto's team developed, however, was Super Mario Bros. Released well after the launch of the Famicom in Japan and at the launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System in America, Super Mario Bros. would go on to become the most successful video game of its time. Miyamoto said that at the time of Super Mario Bros.' release, several competitors had already started creating their own "jumping" games, and he feared of being one-upped by them. He started performing tests where a large character would run along a plain with a blue background behind him. At the time this was unusual, as most arcade and home console games had black backgrounds as it was supposedly less tiring on the player's eyes. From the beginning of this project Miyamoto wanted the player to be able to travel on the land, in the air and in the sea. The final product had Mario travelling underground as well as above ground in the night and day too (Apparently the designers implemented the controls from Balloon Fight for the underwater portions of the game. Indeed the game's water stages play almost identically to it.). The only reason Mario is able to turn from small to big is because Miyamoto wanted a large character on the screen. They found that, when larger, Mario was more satisfying to control and chose to include both sizes in the final product. The player will start out small but increase in size upon consuming a mushroom. Mushrooms were chosen to increase Mario's size because Miyamoto felt that the fungi always had a connection to magical realms.

Miyamoto's team encountered a problem when developing Super Mario Bros. and their solution to it is considered among the community as quite brilliant. Basically they were able to train the player within seconds of starting the game, without having any button indications pop up on the screen. This was mainly implemented for the players who hadn't resorted to looking at their manual beforehand. Mario is automatically facing right when the game starts, and naturally the player will feel inclined to move in that direction. If they don't know how to move, a brief glance at the directional pad on the controller and the arrows engraved in them will hopefully give them a better understanding. Once moving they soon encounter their first enemy - the Goomba. The Goomba is moving at a slow pace under a set of blocks above. It has a slightly menacing appearance and if the Goomba comes into contact with Mario he will lose a life and have to start over. At this point the player will realize they have to use a new tactic, and by pressing the buttons they will learn that they possess the ability to jump. So, when they approach the Goomba this time, they decide to either jump over or on the enemy to progress. If timed correctly, Mario will hit the ? block above the Goomba and a mushroom will come out. The Mushroom automatically starts moving right, falls down to the ground and hits a blockade and starts moving at a rapid pace towards Mario. Because the Goomba looked similar to a mushroom (and was actually modeled after one), the player may instinctively try to jump over it again. If they jump they will hit another block above their head, thus causing them to come back to the ground where they will hit the mushroom, thus learning that they can become bigger. Basically Miyamoto designed it so that new players almost always get the mushroom within a few tries. The standard blocks that are above Mario when he enlarges are placed there so that the player realizes that, when large, Mario can smash through them.

Miyamoto's second big NES title was The Legend of Zelda. Wanting to create a game centered around player's choices, Zelda allowed the player to choose which dungeons to complete first. There was no clear route on how to beat the game, and after they did so they would be presented with the illusive second quest. The Legend of Zelda was actually developed alongside Super Mario Bros., and several ideas that didn't fit in one game would be moved to another. The rotating fire pillars of Super Mario Bros. that are found within King Koopa's castles, for example, were initially an element found in The Legend of Zelda. Miyamoto, Takashi Tezuka and Toshihiko Nakago all worked on both games as a team, with [[Koji Kondo]] providing the iconic music. The Legend of Zelda received a sequel, The Adventure of Link on the NES while Super Mario Bros. technically had three sequels: Super Mario Bros. 2 (Japanese version), Super Mario Bros. 2 (American version, remake of Miyamoto title Doki Doki Panic), and the acclaimed Super Mario Bros. 3, not counting all of the spinoffs. On the Famicom Miyamoto was also the producer of Mother.

In order to take on their competitors, Nintendo started development on the Famicom's successor, the Super Famicom (Super Nintendo Entertainment System). Shigeru Miyamoto was typically not involved in the creation of hardware, but instead was entrusted with the launch titles with the system. The most important was no doubt the newest Mario game, which would be titled Super Mario World. Utilizing all of the Super Famicom's features such as rotating, scaling and transparent objects, enhanced graphics and sound and other capabilities, Super Mario World was leagues ahead of anything preceding it. Yoshi the dinosaur was introduced in this game as a mount for Mario to ride on. Initially the designers wanted something akin to Yoshi in Super Mario Bros. 3 but were unable to do it for technical reasons. Yoshi was modeled after a dinosaur not because the designers wanted him to be one but rather because his long neck was convenient. F-Zero and Pilotwings were also released for the launch, but utilizing the rotating powers of the Super Famicom extensively (more-so than Super Mario World). Perhaps one of the Super Famicom's best known games was Star Fox. A huge marketing campaign in anticipation of the game lead players to preorder the game in the millions. This would be the first game that Miyamoto developed alongside a foreign company (British developer Argonaut Games). The game is not possible on typical SNES hardware. Instead, Nintendo allowed them to develop the Super FX chip, which expanded the abilities of the console and was the first 3D graphics accelerator sold to consumers. The technology was far more superior than what was present inside the Super Famicom. Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka designed the game while the crew back in the United Kingdom handled the technical work. From the beginning Miyamoto abandoned the idea of having the game feature cliched science fiction elements and instead opted for animals to be the stars.

Miyamoto hadn't directed a game since Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES, and most assumed that this would remain the case since he was promoted to producer. However, with the new console, Miyamoto became the director of the most pivotal game that would be released on the console, the new Mario game. Titled Super Mario 64, Miyamoto had been coming up with concepts for the game for years, though didn't get to writing specs until just awhile before the game was released. Miyamoto tested with polygons in the games Star Fox and Stunt Race FX, and according to him he even wanted to do a similar title before the Super Famicom was released. According to Miyamoto, it took around five to six years total to complete the game from its early conception. Upon release, the game sold millions upon millions of copies worldwide and to this day is considered one of, if not the most important video game of all time. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was released shortly after, and it revolutionized video games. Ocarina of Time was originally known as Zelda 64, and was one of the earliest games with a development structure that contained directors for many segments. Miyamoto was the producer of this game. In all, there were around four co-directors, and they each had their own responsibilities. Miyamoto changed various aspects of the game. Some sources say that he was so involved that he was close to being a director, or at least the person who kept everyone in order. Miyamoto came up with the idea of the horse, which became the game's most enduring image. To date, Ocarina of Time remains the series' most successful game. It is also the most critically acclaimed.

Each console since the NES had dropped in sales and performed worse than its predecessor. Nintendo 64 proved to be the worst selling console of them all, and Nintendo was doing all they could to make sure that wouldn't happen with the GameCube, originally known as Dolphin. During the same time they were releasing the successor to the Game Boy Color called the Game Boy Advance. To ensure that the GameCube would be successful, Miyamoto was designated by Nintendo to create a new and unique title. He and a team of Nintendo veterans showcased a tech demo titled Mario 128 that would be shown at a press conference. The game, which was directed by Yoshiaki Koizumi, had one hundred and twenty eight Marios drop from the sky and the platform was contorted and manipulated. The notions introduced in the tech demo were later integrated into several video games, the first being a launch title for the GameCube that Miyamoto would produce called Pikmin. In it, you'd control Captain Olimar who would command an army of Pikmin, whose number could rise to 100. The gameplay was innovative, inspiring and influential to various future console real time strategy games. Originally Miyamoto came up with an idea of game where it starts with two people and you expand from that, and thus codenamed it Adam and Eve. Eventually it evolved into what the game is today. A sequel would eventually be released in 2004 called Pikmin 2.

The Game Boy franchise's long reign was coming to an end. Nintendo had fully revealed its successor, the Nintendo DS, earlier in the year, and it was revealed to have two screens, the bottom one a touch screen, a microphone and graphics that are more impressive then those of the Nintendo 64's. Miyamoto worked with the hardware developers and served as producer on the primary launch title Super Mario 64 DS. Nintendo made sure that people knew Miyamoto was working on Nintendo DS software, as this could've been the reason that the ill-fated Virtual Boy performed so badly - that Miyamoto didn't support it whatsoever. This time around, Miyamoto was behind a plethora of titles ranging from the previously mentioned Super Mario 64 DS to Mario Kart DS to the worldwide sensation Nintendogs, which Miyamoto created because of his increasing enjoyment with his dog. Other games on the DS he's worked on include Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis, New Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, though he didn't work as much as he usually does on the latter two games. Instead, he was gearing up for Nintendo's next console the Wii. If Nintendo could replicate the success they had with the Nintendo DS, then Nintendo would be able to shoot back to the top when they had been at the bottom for so long. It was time for a comeback, and Miyamoto would be at the helm of many of the triple-A titles.
The first two games Miyamoto would work on was Wii Sports and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Miyamoto's involvement with Wii Sports was minimum but with Twilight Princess he was there since the beginning, though Eiji Aonuma retained his position as director. Miyamoto has been said to "upend the tea table" quite a lot, meaning that in the middle of development he may decide that something doesn't fit and he demands that it be changed. In Twilight Princess, some of the game's designers felt like he did while others disagreed. Eiji Aonuma explained that he did so in a "considerate manner", while Miyamoto said that rather than upending the tea table, he just rearranged it.

Miyamoto said that he really didn't overturn anything, as he would think overturning be saying something such as "Actually, Link was a women all along". When Eiji Aonuma went to Miyamoto telling him of his wolf Link idea, Miyamoto, according to Aonuma, gave him a piece of his mind and said that "It's a lot harder to make a four-legged animal than it is to make a two-legged human, you know!" Miyamoto eventually became accustomed to the idea, and finally embraced it, even coming up with the idea of making a character ride on the back of wolf Link, which eventually lead to the creation of Midna. When the game was postponed, Miyamoto was relieved because, while he felt the game was enjoyable, he knew it wasn't ready for release. So, the development team got back to work and created the game that it is today. In the year that it was released, it was welcomed to various game of the year awards.

After Twilight Princess, Miyamoto went on to supervise Super Paper Mario and Mario Strikers Charged. However, Miyamoto has once said that when he is credited as a supervisor, this usually means that he was barely part of the project and didn't have much influence over it. He was also a part of the staff with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, which he felt was the best of the series. Then came Super Mario Galaxy. With this Wii title developed by Nintendo EAD Tokyo (Donkey Kong Jungle Beat), Yoshiaki Koizumi was the director. Miyamoto came up with the entire game concept of spheres and gravity. He had wanted to use these things for years. In fact, he came up with the idea back with Mario 128. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata didn't understand how spheres would benefit the game, and neither did the director. After they created a prototype, however, it all became clear. Miyamoto was there to make sure that development went smoothly and would constantly pitch in his ideas. According to Koizumi, Miyamoto was the least bit concerned about altering the Mario formula, and was really excited when some of the team members came up to him with bold new ideas, whereas ironically people who had previously not worked on a Mario game didn't want to mess with the formula that Miyamoto had created. When Super Mario Galaxy was released, it ended up becoming the best rated game of the year and to date is the third highest rated video game of all time. After Galaxy , Miyamoto worked on games such as Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, Link's Crossbow Training, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Mario Kart Wii and Punch-Ou!! for the Wii. He also made two new Wii series games including Wii Fit, which was made due to his daily interest of measuring his weight, and Wii Music.

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