Nintendo luminaries Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma recently took
part in a roundtable discussion at the Academy of Interactive Arts and
Sciences D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada. Subjects of discussion
included everything from The Legend of Zelda, Metal Gear Solid, and HAL
Laboratories, to Miyamoto's new dog. The following is a
transcription of the roundtable discussion in in which Miyamoto and
Aonuma share their insights on many Nintendo-related subjects...
As a man who seems essentially a creative person, how do you find balance in your life with the stresses and pressures of
the roles you've taken on at Nintendo?
That's a very large topic.
Once I turned forty, I actually took up swimming and now I'm
swimming at least one or two kilometers every week. Also, about
that time, I quit smoking. Of course, weekdays I work very late
hours generally. So I'm certain on the weekends to spend all my
time with my wife and family.
As a creative person, does part of the creative process involve
having a space to be creative?
I think that is very
important. You do need a lot of space and some freedom in order
to come up with some ideas. But I'm actually more the type of
where I come up with ideas when I'm working and so it's not as
much of a challenge for me. Really, I try to find that balance
and space by expanding out into new areas. Lately, my family's
gotten a dog. We've been spending a lot of time with the dog and
taking care of it. That's brought me some pleasure too and a
little bit of balance.
A lot of the games and announcements we've seen so far this
year are sequels. Will there be a healthy introduction of new
franchises this year as well?
Yeah, I do intend to show
something at E3.
What do you see as being your biggest challenge this year?
I think this year our
biggest challenge is to really take connectivity to the next
level and put it out in a form that people understand what the
real concept of it is and can see where they can take that. Of
course, with the e-Reader out, we're looking at finding ways to incorporate
the e-Reader into gameplay and really create new styles of
gameplay that only Nintendo can offer.
Everyone loves Wind Waker. But a lot of people preferred the
more realistic-style of the Zelda of Space World 2000. Do you
have any plans to explore that style?
The first thing I'd like
to say is that I think that once people actually play The Wind
Waker and get into the game, they immediately understand why we
chose the graphical style that we did to go with this game. So
even if people are fans of the more graphical looking Zelda
games, I think if they'll just give this game a chance, pick it
up and play it, I think they'll immediately, once again be
engulfed in the Zelda world, really understand, and kind of
accept the game for what it is.
As for whether or not
we'll actually go and create a more realistic looking Zelda
game, it's really a question of what kind of game the next one
will be. Obviously, the graphical style or methods of expression
that we choose for that game are going to be highly dependent on
what type of game it is. We haven't come up with the idea yet
for the game. But once we do, we'll then have to take a look at
what the best method of expression is going to be for that game
and so we'll go through that process. So definitely there's a
possibility that we will create a more realistic-style Zelda
MIYAMOTO: Obviously, we've seen in Soul
Calibur and Smash Brothers, a definitely more realistic-looking
Link. So hopefully that can tide people over. Also, we have the
experiment that we did to create the Space World 2000 video. So
we have those models and we have them moving around, working. We
don't have a game for them but that system is there and it works
and it functions.
Also, you take a look at The
Wind Waker and this is a game where you have child-Link throughout
the game. You never see adult-Link in the game. I really can't
picture adult-Link in a toon-shaded game. It doesn't really
match for me. That's why we say we'll think about what the next
Zelda game will be. We may have to re-evaluate which style we
Do you find that putting an emphasis on realistic graphics
limits your creativity and were you able to do more things
creatively because of the fantastic style that The Wind Waker
Yeah, that's a very good
point. As you can see within The
Wind Waker, Link's got very large eyes and he's always looking
around. They move so much, and they'll look at things and draw a player's
attention to objects in the environment. I think with realistic
graphics, there's no way that you can do that and have it look right. That's one example of how we were able to do something
new with the toon-shaded graphics.
The main reason that we chose the toon-shaded style for The Wind
Waker was because we wanted to present the player with a much
more smooth and natural looking movement style, this kind of
deformation style of movement that we've given Link. Out of that
grew these other ideas of how we could use the toon-shading.
Like for the eyes to give hints and other ways of expression
within the game. I think that's why it's so important to really
think about what your objective is and what you intend to use
some of these movements for. That's the main reason that we
chose toon-shading and there's definitely advantages to it.
One of the most important things with the Zelda franchise is
that players really must feel that Link is really almost
themselves in the game. In that sense, there has to be very
natural and fluid interaction between the player and the
character. When you don't have that, you certainly lose some of
the nature that makes Zelda what it is. If you were to go with
the more realistic-looking Link, then you'd have to have so much
movement in the face for [Link] to be able to essentially effect
the emotions of the player and make it feel like the player is
emoting through Link. That would require so much time and energy
in order to create those graphics to allow the face to do that.
Also, particularly with realistic graphics, when you have a
character and their arm moving through objects or bumping into things in an
unnatural way, it just stands out all the more. I think that
that's even more unnatural than having these toon-shaded style
graphics with extremely natural and realistic movement. That's
why this time we've spent so much time and energy with the
director and the designers to go through and really focus on
making the gameplay fun and making Link really emotive in the
game to really draw the player into the world.
If you didn't have to worry about game sales at all and could
just make the game that you wanted to make, what would that be?
For me, it's really a game
that really anyone can play and just pick up and get involved
in. Like the kind of game that I could just set out on the
street and people could just walk by and pick it up and play and
have fun with it.
Is there any game that you would like to do but say to
yourself, "I can't do that because it's not going to
Yeah, there are a lot of
ideas like that which I do have and that we never really quite
get to bring out. Recently, one example would be Stage Debut or
Talent Studio, which I think we showed at E3 last year. It's a
really simple system, it's really fun. You can take someone's
picture using a Game Boy Advance camera and put it onto models
in a GameCube game and make them do things. It's a really fun
idea and we've had three or four people working on it for quite
a while but we just can't seem to find a way to turn it into a
product. But the nice thing about that is that even with three
or four people working on a project like that for two years,
that's still cheaper than one month of selfless development of
During Miyamoto's European tour, there was some mention of a
Metal Gear game for GameCube and Game Boy Advance. Can you
clarify what was said about that at that time?
It is true that we are
working with Mr. Kojima to try and bring the Metal Gear series
to the GameCube but at this point we really haven't talked at
all about any kind of connectivity features. I think what
happened was that at the same time I mentioned that, I was also
mentioning that we were in conversations with Electronic Arts
about how to bring more connectivity to their games and add some
new gameplay style that way. I think that somebody took the two
and kind of combined them together to create what's turned out
to be a little misunderstanding. I think I also mentioned the
fact that Mr. Kojima is working on a new Game Boy Advance game
at the same time so I think the three of those together got all
mixed up and some wires got crossed.
When can we expect Metal Gear for GameCube?
It is in progress, but
please talk to Konami about that.
Anthropologists say that
if you look at the games of the children, you can see the next
hundred years of a society. You always emphasize fun in games,
and I'm wondering if on another level if you've though about
what videogames as the new game for our children is fostering.
Well as a creator, I really strive to create videogames that
people play not so much alone, but with their family and that
people play together. And so, in that sense, in looking at the
games that I've made, I really hope that I'm trying to foster a
situation where children are essentially getting the same kind
of communication and interaction with other people that I had
when I was a child.
But yeah, on the other hand you do have things like the Internet
where people can go online and talk to people far away. You can
talk to people in chat rooms and you may trust them despite the
fact that they could be giving you false information or may be
untrustworthy. And so I think there are definitely some aspects
to this that people need to pay attention to and be weary of,
and try to find ways to improve. I think especially as an
interactive medium, it really does go beyond just the freedom of
expression and the freedom to create. We really should take a
look at what the effects of this will be and parents should look
at how they can keep track of what their children are doing.
Because we're at a point where children can sneak off and
secretly buy mature-rated games. There's definite affects to
that and I think it's something that we should all be thinking
Whenever Nintendo's been asked, "When are we going to
see more online games?" The response has always been,
"When we see that the market is ready." Is there a
possibility that at E3 this year, we'll be able to see more
online or LAN-style network games from Nintendo?
I can't really say a whole lot about E3 right now, but Nintendo
is still at a point where we don't currently see online games
being successful as a business model at this point so I don't
think you can expect to see any serious look at online games at
E3. I do think that the communication aspect of networking and
linking games together, including LAN games, is definitely very
interesting. We're going to look at ways to show that off at E3.
Particularly linking the Game Boy Advance and the GameCube and
linking four GBAs together, which is also kind of a form of
communication and networks.
What about linking GameCubes together?
[Laughs] Unfortunately I can't say anything today.
How content are you with the connectivity Nintendo's been
able to show off on Game Boy Advance so far?
No, I think we're still in the middle of a big challenge in
trying to show off the capabilities of [connectivity] and we're
still looking for some more definitive examples to show off. One
of the preconditions for connectivity is that everyone has to
have all these cables and people who have a GameCube also have
to have a Game Boy Advance and that may not always be the case.
Up until now, we've really been focusing on taking the idea of
connectivity and presenting it in a way so that people who do
have both can find, "oh, I do get more value out of
this," or, "this is a little bit more fun," or,
"this is an interesting experience." We're looking
more at trying to build on that and establish the basic
groundwork for us to go forward.
This year we're going to see 70% to 80% of all first-party
releases are going to have some form of connectivity with them.
In Japan, we've also released Nintendo Puzzle Collection for
GameCube and that has a cable packed in with it. So we think
that we're actually going to get to a level of proliferation
with the cables and Game Boy Advance and GameCube connectivity
that we'll be able to show some more concrete examples. This
year we'll be showing off more concrete examples of that with
Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles and perhaps - and this is not
necessarily certain - with Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire versions
of Stadium for GameCube, maybe something like that.
Does Nintendo feel they need to wait to show off connectivity
at the level that we saw at Space World one year where they
swapped Kirby in-between GameCube and GBA until they have an
installed user base for it?
Actually, unfortunately work on the Tilt and Tumble project, or
the Roll-A-Rama project, has kind of slowed at this point
because of the demands of many of our other projects that we've
been working on. But definitely yeah, that's an example of a
game that does require that special user base and a cartridge
with tilt sensor technology. And we've come up with a lot of
other good ideas as well so… hopefully.
What's happening with HAL? Are they the developer of Kirby
and, if not, is there another Smash Bros. game in development?
In addition, will Nintendo be partnering with Namco, Sega, or
any other companies, in terms of including their licenses in a
new Smash Bros. game?
Is that what you're asking? [Laughs] Unfortunately, I can't
discuss in detail anything that HAL Labs is working on at the
moment. What I can say is that they have increased in size
recently and, in conjunction with that, they have increased the
number of projects they are working on - the amount of work that
they're doing. So that's some good news. As far as us having
Namco's characters appear in another Smash Bros., we haven't
actually discussed anything like that at this point. I
personally always like to joke about putting Sonic in Smash
Is HAL the developer of Kirby's Air Ride?
Yeah, HAL is working on that.
Can you clarify who is the developer of Wario World?
I don't know if I can say this. Tell you what; Wario World is
being developed by Nintendo in conjunction with a second party
that we've worked with in the past. [Laughs]
You implemented your hobby of gardening into Pikmin. Have you
been thinking of ways to implement your new dog into future
Yeah, I think maybe we'll put a dog in Pikmin that will come
running out and just gobble up the Pikmin.
I don't specifically take my hobbies and try to find a way to
tie them to a game or anything but one thing that I think is
very interesting about dogs and raising dogs is, and it's
really funny, I always wonder why people think the way they do
towards dogs and why dogs think the way they do towards people.
Dogs obviously don't understand words really and yet people talk
to them as if they do. And I find myself doing this as well and
I sound like a complete fool saying complete sentences to my dog,
which it doesn't understand, whatsoever. So I think for me, right
now, having and interacting with a dog is really just a game for
The same way that you were able to implement playing in a
cave in Kyoto into Zelda, I'm sure you see something with a
relationship with a dog that none of us have seen. What new
things has the dog brought to your life and your thinking?
I definitely think that something like that has the high
possibility of popping up in a game idea somewhere. Probably, if
we do it, it won't be a dog in the game.
The Zelda: Ocarina of Time pre-order disc has been a pretty
big success. Do you think that you might ever do that with a
The Zelda pre-sale was actually kind of a unique case in the
sense that we had actually gone through the trouble of
developing Ura Zelda (Master Quest) in Japan and we ultimately
never released it, primarily because the contents of the game
had not changed enough from Ocarina of Time to provide enough
value in the product, we thought. But the people who worked on
it really wanted to get the game out there and we did too. We
actually looked at many possible ways to do that including tying
up with magazines and trying to sell it through magazines. But
ultimately we never really found a way of providing that to the
This time around with the release of Wind Waker and the fact
that we'd gone from a cartridge-based media on the N64 to a
disc-based media caused a [cost] drop so significantly that we
found we could take this N64 game, put it on the GameCube disc,
put it in high-resolution, and let people play through the
Ocarina of Time game again and then follow it up with the Master
Quest at a relatively low cost. So there were some unique
circumstances with Zelda. It would certainly be possible to do
it with other games but we just haven't thought about doing with
anything else at this point.
To follow-up, you know, we've never gotten to play Star Fox
Star Fox Adventures was very different from any of the other
Star Fox games that we've made. We actually were working on
that, after the fact, I thought it would have been kind of nice
if we had done something similar with Star Fox 64 for that game.
I'll give that Star Fox 2 idea some thought though. [Laughs]
Now that Nintendo and Rare have parted ways, where does that
leave the Donkey Kong series? Has Nintendo taken that back and
are you going to leave the Rare art style of Donkey Kong as
opposed to the old Miyamoto-style?
I don't know if I can say this. I guess I can say this. We are
working on a Donkey Kong game. Really, it's our policy with the
separation with Rare to not allow that to open any holes in
Nintendo's library or lineup. It's not as if we got into some
big fight with Rare or anything, we just had some different
opinions about business models and where we were headed. We
obviously have a strong relationship with Rare and got along
very well with them. So when we did finally part with them, we
were able to clean up all the rights and issues surrounding all
the characters and franchises very easily.
Will we see the new Donkey Kong game at E3?
[Laughs] Unfortunately, I can't answer that question.
You've just come back from a tour of Europe and now you're in
Las Vegas doing PR for Zelda as well. What kind of responses are
you getting on The Wind Waker from people who have actually
played the game?
Actually, the response we've been getting has been drastically
different and I think the reason for that is because very few
people in Europe have actually played much of the game yet. So
in Europe, it's a really kind of a lot like some of the feedback
we had gotten when we first showed pictures of the game where
people are just overwhelmingly concerned about the graphic style
and haven't had a chance to see how it's working with the
Whereas, conversely in the United States, where most everybody
has actually played the game or gotten to see it, they
finally understood why we chose the graphics style we have. It's
much more positive. In Europe, a lot of the press has actually
played it and they understand it and now essentially a lot of
them are asking us how they can help convince people that they
need to try this game.
In Japan, after people played Wind Waker, we had a lot of
feedback that the collection of Triforce pieces in the game was
kind of difficult or tedious so we actually touched that up and
made some changes to that part of the spec for the U.S. version
and that will be reflected in the first build of that coming out
[in March]. It's just a few small changes but hopefully that'll
improve some of the feedback we get. [Laughs]
You made an appearance at the Virgin Megastore in London to
huge successes. Might you in the future do something like that
in the U.S. or perhaps in Japan?
I was very
surprised by the turnout for the public appearance and autograph
session at the [Virgin Megastore]. Actually, Britney Spears had
done one just before I did and a thousand people came to mine
and that was more than she had attracted. So that was very
flattering. [Laughs] Actually, the staff was very helpful. They
were worried that maybe if they didn't have enough people there, then
maybe it wouldn't look good so they kind of planned to have some
people lining up early and said that I could take up to fifteen
minutes for each person but in the end it turned out that there
were way more people than anyone expected. At this point, I
don't have plans to do any more. I'd be too embarrassed to do it
in Japan. [Laughs]
Press Roundtable at
D.I.C.E. Summit 2003
Rick - Editor in
Bill Trinen -
Translator, Nintendo of America