Nintendo, as a company, has always been a difficult-to-define dichotomy: wonderfully innovative, yet somehow, also strictly conservative. In recent years, however, it seems the company is leaning harder and harder into ‘trying new things’. Not only is this evident in the upcoming Super Mario Bros. movie in the works headed by Illumination Entertainment and Universal Studio’s Super Nintendo World Theme park (currently under construction) but even within their most recent games and the Switch itself, a desire to push those ‘traditional’ boundaries is clearly evident. And according to a recent interview in Nikkei, Shigeru Miyamoto has actually changed his own creative direction to ensure the longevity of Nintendo’s flagship mascot, Mario.
For many years, he (Miyamoto) tried to maintain a certain consistency with Mario. While this has given the character an air of familiarity, it has cramped Miyamoto’s style… This has inspired Miyamoto to avoid casting Mario too rigidly, giving him freedom to explore different character scenarios. “I’ve become more interested in creating greater opportunities for a larger audience to enjoy…” Miyamoto says.Nikkei
In the same Nikkei article, a strong comparison is made between Disney and Nintendo and between Mario and Mickey Mouse. There are obvious similarities. Miyamoto is a huge fan of Mickey Mouse and in some ways tried to model Mario after him. And as Mickey has done, he wants Mario to be able to change and move with the times in order to survive. However, while he thinks it may change in the future, Miyamoto feels that right now Nintendo still cannot directly compete with Disney for a variety of reasons. According to Miyamoto, one of the biggest of these is some parents still do not let their kids play video games even though they will allow them to watch Disney movies.
It’s an interesting take from Mario’s maker, but for now, we’re just happy to hear him eager to continue to innovate. And as a Mario fan, I’m thrilled to hear how he plans to keep the red plumber in our lives for a long time.