Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 27, 2014

Email: What if Miyamoto left and someone WORSE took over?

I know you’ve talked about the real problem with Nintendo is Miyamoto and his obsession with 3D Mario.  It’s easy to see with both 3D Land and World, that was his attempt to implement 2D Mario gameplay philosophy into a 3D game.  And I know many feel his retirement might actually help Nintendo.  As someone who grew up loving a lot of the games he made, even I can’t help but see, he’s gotten too big a head and Iwata seems afraid to step in and just put his foot down, take away his toys and say “no more Mario for you!! If you don’t want to make a good 2D Mario, then I’ll find someone who will and I’m taking Starfox and Fzero as well. (I hear Miyamoto is sitting on those and doesn’t want to make those just because).”  It’s like the higher ups at Nintendo are afraid to stand up to him because, let’s face it, he’s primarily responsible for a lot of the success over the years.  It would be like Disney wanting to give John Lasseter (Pixar founder) the boot after some failed movies.
What I mostly worry about was if Miyamoto was to finally retire, that someone worse would take his place.  You’ve stated many a times how game developers today are all kids who grew up as hardcore gamers, studied “game design” at college and have aspirations of being some game god that hardcore gamers worship and write blogs about and my fear is Nintendo would replace Miyamoto with one of “those” developers who would turn Mario into an Industry game.  I see some 30 something going nuts and saying “Now we’re going to finally give Mario cut scenes and story and explore his relationship with Peach and Luigi.”  We all know on Mario Galaxy, the staff was trying to shove in story elements behind Miyamoto’s back (of course the hardcore love that Galaxy had “story”).  The irony that most hardcore gamers forget is that Miyamoto joined Nintendo wanting a job designing arcade cabinets and someone said “hey make us a game.”  That would never happen today.  I dread him getting replaced by some “industry” developer would basically turn Mario’s quality into Sonic’s current quality.
Yeah Miyamoto needs to wake up and realize that 3D Mario doesn’t sell hardware.  If he doesn’t want to make a good 2D Mario, then Nintendo should find someone who does.  I’d like to say Retro but I feel like everyone wants them to make everything. And I do think Iwata needs to stop letting Miyamoto run the show, take away his toys and send him to his room and tell him he can’t come out unless he wants to make a good 2D Mario or a new IP that’s going to sell hardware.  Maybe he should do the same with Anouma and Zelda.

First off, Miyamoto is a member of the Board and the manager of all Nintendo software. He is like a #2 type of guy. I heard that Miyamoto expected that he should become president instead of Iwata, but they told Miyamoto that he was better in the ‘creative’ realm. That is nice talk for saying Miyamoto doesn’t have the business qualifications (Iwata did when he turned HAL around and worked in the corporate division for Nintendo for a long while).

It’s pretty obvious that if Miyamoto wants something, he is going to get it.

Iwata did put his foot down on Miyamoto with 2d Mario. I remember an Iwata Asks, though I can’t remember which one, where Miyamoto was whining about making 2d Mario and Iwata said, “Oh, you are going to be making this game!” I haven’t heard of Miyamoto’s involvement since. Nintendo got Tezuka to be the ‘Nintendo elder’ in charge. And Tezuka hates 2d Mario too. In the Luigi game interview, he says, “I’m tired of making Mario games…” but Iwata corrected him and said, “But this isn’t a Mario game. It is a Luigi game!” hahaha

People should untie Iwata’s hands before they blame him. I don’t think it was Iwata’s decision that Pikmin 3 got made (which was a very expensive undertaking). I suspect Pikmin 3 was made because Miyamoto announced it (and there was no development done on it). Nintendo had to follow through with Pikmin 3 or have Miyamoto lose face. The lack of any Iwata Asks for that game is saying much.

I don’t think Iwata can do anything about Miyamoto. The investors all demand Miyamoto be present and be allowed to do whatever he wants. Even the investors believe Miyamoto is the ultimate ‘game god’. They demanded he be involved in the hardware process for the 3DS!

This isn’t to say Miyamoto is not a talent. He obviously is. But I believe much of that talent is NOT about ‘creativity’ but about Miyamoto’s unique background in Industrial Design. Industrial Design is something NO game developer would take today. I believe today, they just take computer programming classes and some digital art and animation classes. Just saying the word ‘industrial’ around game developers today is like farting really loud. They look DOWN at the industrial arts. They think the industrial stuff is ‘the past’ while all that nifty computer stuff is ‘the future’.

Today, that ‘industrial arts’ is the most in demand and highest paying jobs. The welder can write his own ticket. Miyamoto may have an artist personality, but I suspect that Industrial Design knowledge grounded him and gave him a proper ballast.

I do believe Miyamoto is one of the few forces holding back a ton of crap that Nintendo developers ‘want’ to make. Think of Metroid: Other M. The younger developers want to put in narratives and ‘stories’. They put them in Super Mario Galaxy without Miyamoto knowing it until it was too late. I do remember an interview around 2005 or 2006 when Miyamoto said how younger developers wanted to make games like 2d Mario and Classic Zelda and Miyamoto shot it down saying, “I’ve made those games before! I don’t want to make them again!” The younger devs were correct in that instance.

I think people like Miyamoto have been hiring nothing but yes-men over decades. They always say ‘YES’ to 3d Mario, ‘YES’ to cell-shaded Zelda, and not ‘yes’ as in agreement. They are full converts. They were complaining about making Twilight Princess not ‘anime’ looking. They were complaining about 2d Mario not showing off the ‘3d’. You know that producer of Retro’s latest Donkey Kong saying how they want to make a Donkey Kong 3d? That producer is a total 3d convert. With the Retro employees, I don’t think they care what they made so long as its cool (a 2d Metroid would be cool and they love Metroid there after the Prime games).

It is not just Miyamoto’s obsessions. His obsessions have translated into many employees with that mindset. When Miyamoto goes, those same employees will still be there. And of course, no one gets fired at Nintendo it seems. I would just love to de-Aonuma-ize Zelda. But nope, Aonuma stays with the Zelda team forever. Even if Aonuma left, the Zelda team he composed, which are all true believers in the Aonuma-ways, will still be there.

The 3d obsession isn’t referring to a person but a cancer inside Nintendo. I thought during the Wii Era that Nintendo was finally cutting out the cancer. With the Wii U, we can see the cancer has spread. It may now be too big to remove resulting in a terminal patient.


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