How do you describe what Shigeru Miyamoto represents for the gaming world? It is a difficult task to accomplish in so few lines. Can we call him Super Mario’s “dad”? Of course, it is one of the most common names that can be given to it. Can we define him as a “known face” of Nintendo? It is the truth. Who better than him to represent the Japanese company founded over a century ago?
Time magazine comes to our rescue, which defines him as the “Steven Spielberg” of video games, and the Daily Telegraph which does not resort to half measures in awarding him the title of the most important Game Designer in history (a definition shared almost unanimously by the public and industry). ign places him in first place among the 100 most influential game designers of all time.
Born on November 16, 1952 in Kyoto, Shigeru was hired by Hiroshi Yamahuchi at Nintendo in the mid-1970s. Miyamoto is fresh out of his diploma as an artist, and that’s the task he was initially given. The first game in which he collaborates is Radar Scope which, however, does not achieve the hoped-for success outside the Japanese borders.
We will have to wait until 1981 to see Miyamoto’s true talent at work. In fact, the publication of Donkey Kong dates back to that year. Miyamoto works on it almost in solitude composing the music, programming and designing the characters. Probably not even he knew that with the pencil he wasn’t just making creatures to move on the screen but real pieces of history in the world of video games. Donkey Kong, of course, Pauline and what is remembered as Jumpman or Mr. Video. Only later did the character change his name thanks to an intuition of a Nintendo of America executive, the prototype of Mario in short.
We will have to wait a couple of years before seeing the moustached plumber (who was originally a carpenter) become the absolute protagonist of the story. Super Mario Bros, the game that definitively consecrated the character and his creator was released in 1985 on the NES. The merit of having revived the video game industry after the so-called crisis of 1983 is often entrusted to him. The cultural impact of that game, however, is more certain: the New Yorker even describes Mario as the first true popular hero of video games (the title of icon and representative of the entire industry was already occupied by Satoru Iwata’s Pac-Man).
Just a year goes by and another video game signed by Miyamoto arrives on the NES: The Legend of Zelda, maybe the name reminds you of something. Sure says something to the editors of Game Informer who have given the progenitor of the series the not at all important title of “most important video game in history”.
How can we forget that Shigeru Miyamoto always helped to give life to Star Fox. The great leap into 3D, the game that showed the world what the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was really capable of despite the hardware limitations of the early 90s.
At present, Shigeru Miyamoto is in charge of the Pikmin series. We, in addition to wishing him a happy birthday, can only hope to arrive like him at 70 with still joy in our hearts and the desire to deal with video games. Above all, we can’t not thank him for the immense contribution he has made to this industry and the wonderful moments that his video games have given us.