Photo: Rodin Eckenroth (Getty Images)
A retranslated 1986 interview between Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto and Namco’s Masanobu Endo reveals some neat details about the games the two designers were playing at the time, what music Miyamoto liked, and his hopes for Mario’s future.
A little background on these two before we get into the fun stuff. Shigeru Miyamoto has been at Nintendo since the ’70s and is responsible for inventing famous characters like Mario and Donkey Kong. As the creator of franchises like The Legend of Zelda and Pikmin, he has helped shape the look of countless iconic games. Meanwhile, Masanobu Endo was a developer and designer at Namco. While working there, he helped develop the incredibly influential arcade games Xevious and The Tower of Druaga. In 1985 he founded his own game studio and continued to work with Namco on various Wizardry and Druaga ports and original projects such as Okamiden for the Nintendo DS. At the time of the interview, Miyamoto was less experienced in the industry than Endo.
This old interview was recently translated by Shmuplatations, who believe it is now the oldest verified Miyamoto interview online. The site describes itself as a “collection” of old interviews translated by Japanese game developers and yesterday published this wonderful conversation between Miyamoto and Endo from the February 1986 issue of Famimaga.
Nintendo Complete / Nintendo
Right at the start, Miyamoto and Endo spend some time talking about how awesome Donkey Kong Jr. Math is, with Endo admitting that while it’s “kinda old” he always wants to play. Miyamoto then seems to agree, adding that while it’s a “simple game,” it can become so much more with others.
“It’s going to be a really great time playing it with two players,” Miyamoto said. “It’s also super popular with Nintendo employees.”
If you have played Donkey Kong Jr. Math, you might be surprised by her feelings.
Miyamoto’s love of American bluegrass music
Later in the interview, Miyamoto talks about how curious people who want to become game designers or directors need to be. Also, he says they need to try a “variety of things,” and then he casually drops this nugget:
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“I used to go pachinko or play live music in my free time. I love this genre called bluegrass, it’s like American enka or something.”
That’s a wild little thing that you could probably use to win a few bets with friends. But even better is Endo’s reaction when Namco designer Miyamoto replies, “Whoa, that’s cool. That’s really great.” Yes, I agree with Endo. Very impressive.
Interestingly, in this interview, Miyamoto mentions that he wished “Mario would continue to get used to Nintendo games.” And I think that wish has definitely come true, because in 2023 we’re not only still getting new Mario games, but we’re gearing up for a full-scale Hollywood animated movie starring the likes of Chris Pratt and Jack Black. So, yes, I think his wish for Mario to continue “getting used to” Nintendo has come true.