Miyamoto’s Focus

Last week, a ‘Spong’ story claimed Shigeru Miyamoto has left behind his role as general Nintendo games guru, instead focusing on a small amount of high profile games. Spong is not known for its credibility, but it would be nice if this were true.

In the Nintendo 64 era, Miyamoto worked exclusively on a handful of games, resulting in classics like ‘Super Mario 64’ and ‘The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’. In the GameCube era a couple of things changed. Not only did Miyamoto start supervising a large number of games, among which even external projects like ‘Metroid Prime’ — Nintendo also changed presidents and shifted to a strategy of more games with shorter development cycles.

All of this resulted in a slightly lower game quality, low points being the unfocused game balance and lack of variety in ‘Super Mario Sunshine’ and ‘The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker’ seemingly having some dungeons cut out.

I’d like to think that these games would have been better with a bigger development role for Miyamoto. But then, I’m a bit of an admirer.

Actually, the man himself kind of confirmed this theory in the British ‘NGC Magazine’, saying he’s currently working closely on ‘Pikmin 2’ and two other ‘undisclosed titles’ alongside it. Both games will hopefully be released before year’s end and chances are they’re new ‘Mario’ and ‘Zelda’ episodes. If so, we’ll see more of them at the E3 expo in May — and learn whether Miyamoto’s touch is indeed holy.

‘Zelda’ is pretty much a sure thing, as a second game using the Wind Waker engine has been talked about quite a few times. Personally I’d like to see a sea-free sequel, with a tightly focused overworld and lots of crazy dungeons.

While ‘Super Mario 128′ has been talked about, its status is not as obvious. Miyamoto has mentioned it will be everything Sunshine wasn’t, and the game has been in development for ages, but at times it’s sounded more like a research project than an actual game nearing completion. And then there’s the possibility of the new Mario moving to the GameCube’s successor.

If Miyamoto’s third pet project is not a Mario platform game, then what is it? Personally, I’d really like it to be a continuation of the ‘Pikmin’ promise. When Nintendo announced its clever puzzle adventure, the company sounded like there’d be more unique, original games. However, after Pikmin we didn’t see any of it, and a Pikmin sequel doesn’t count.

If Miyamoto’s third game turns out to be totally new, I’d like it to be an action adventure on an epic scale, with a slightly darker tone — I’ve always thought it a pity that ‘ICO’ wasn’t a Nintendo game. A next generation ‘Kid Icarus’ would fit this description, if Silicon Knights is not working on that, of course. More on that soon!