Shigeru Miyamoto is a gaming god. He made some of the defining games of our generation and essentially defined the world as we know it when it comes to platformers and, to an extent, RPGs. That said, homeboy has been slacking lately and he admits it. For example, he wants to make his games good at the core and not just, to use his cooking metaphor, sauce a nasty piece of meat in hopes of making a palatable game.
What I’ve been saying to our development teams recently is that “Twilight Princess” was not a bad game, by any means. But, still, it felt like there was something missing. And while, personally, I feel like “Super Mario Galaxy” was able to do some things that were very new and were very unique, at the same time, from another perspective, certain elements of it do feel somewhat conservative in terms of how far we branched out with design. And so this is something I’ve been talking to both of those teams about.
Let’s think about what Miyamoto really gave us. On the aggregate, he gave us two powerful franchises that invoke amazingly comforting memories in an entire generation. He essentially invented umami for the brain, that strange salty/protein taste that is one of the basic building blocks of any comfort food. He also defined the middle-of-the-road RPG. Zelda isn’t too eastern – no robots, huge clouds, weird kids with bad hair – nor is it two western – dwarves, elves, swords, and dark mines. It creates a strange interaction that is part Anime kids cartoon and part Dungeons and Dragons that allows kids of all ages to maintain a suspended disbelief without having to completely accept a genre they may or may not understand.
I’ve been complaining about the Wii since it came out and I think this interview sort of hits the source of my disconsolate sorrow. Nintendo has an MVP and they make this MVP create games. Unlike the Metal Gear series, Zelda and Mario have kept their story-line well within the realm of acceptance – you accepted that Link could turn into a dog but when Snake Eater had some crazy horse on a bridge and focused its energy on “Revolver Ocelot” or whoever I lost it. They forgot their base, the people who picked MG because it was a military shooter melded with a sneaker and not some crazy Final Fantasy knock-off.
And so I’m glad that Miyamoto agrees that the series needs work but I’m also sad that it took them so long to figure this out. Maybe the Wii wasn’t for me. Maybe I’m too old and set in my ways. Maybe my son will fall in love with Zelda all over again and Nintendo will once again define the expectations of a generation.