Interview:LA Times December 23rd 2011
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LA Times December 23rd 2011
LA: So — retiring? What exactly did you mean when you first made the statement?
SM: I'm sorry that whatever I said has been somehow reported in a way which causes some misunderstanding. To make it very clear, I have no intention of retiring right now at all, and I do not think that I'm old enough to think about retiring anytime soon. The fact of the matter is I've been really enjoying working at the forefront of video game-making at Nintendo, but I cannot work forever, and the current system is that when people see Nintendo, in the current structure of development, people see me as the sole person responsible for the entire development of series. There are other young developers who are being supervised by me, but thinking in terms of the future, we need to increase the number of people who can take on more responsibilities and more important assignments other than myself. One way to express what I'm doing right now is to say that I'm inspiring younger generations to take more of a lead and more important assignments for themselves by saying get prepared for the time I need to retire. That's what I really meant to say, and once again I'm sorry if there was some misunderstanding.
LA: When developing a game nowadays, story is really important. Crafting a game like Zelda, is it coming up with a story then creating the technology to make it, or is it coming up with technology then building a story to utilize it fully?
SM: Among the many franchises that Nintendo has, Zelda is the one that makes the most use of a story. Each one of the franchise games has to make great use of the story because we want players to be involved. We're [careful with them] because if there were any contradictions, for example, it might be awkward and become a distraction for [a gamer] to feel like they are in the game right now. Having said that, however, the most important thing is the gameplay and the experience through the gameplay itself. As far as the Legend of Zelda is concerned, one of the important factors is that the player has to think about a variety of different options. That's gameplay and story. When they are encountering a riddle, they have to think hard and try out many different things. Of course, this time, it was really important to feature the sword, and we really wanted to highlight the movement of the sword. And because the story is evolving around the sword, we thought, 'Why don't we make this an Episode 1' — that way we can tell the story of the master sword.
LA: So it all came together simultaneously. OK, tougher question: Give us your favorite Nintendo characters.
SM: It's hard because every character is important to me. Mario, Peach, Luigi, Koopa. Zelda. Toad. Of course, Link. I should also mention Donkey Kong… it's hard. To me, Mario is a very convenient character. I'm the type of person who thinks of gameplay first, then thinks about the most suitable character for the game. Mario happens to be a versatile character who can do anything. That's how I think about things. Like in Wii Fit, I do not think that Mario would be suitable for that. He would be strange for the Wii Fit to me.
LA: Manga was your main influence before. Is it still, and do you have any current influences like TV, etc. that drive or inspire you?
SM: Japanese manga has made a great evolution. They are very well-prepared, starting from the basis of an idea, even before drawing characters, They have come up with solid characters and are so sophisticated right now that they have great influence on making TV dramas and dramatic scenarios today. Looking at the current media, including manga and TV dramas, I don't think that I've been greatly influenced by them in terms of my way of making video games. I'm still being influenced from a long time ago. For example, we still have 4-frame manga in newspapers, and I'm still influenced by the Japanese format of funny storytelling called rakugo. Rakugo is a unique form of Japanese storytelling where only one storyteller is in front of you sitting on the cushion on the tatami floor and spends as little as 5 minutes or as long as 30 minutes in front of you. And using subtle movements of the hands and their faces, tell a story.