Hunting Down the Origins of Metroid

For the last several weeks, Nintendo has been releasing developer interviews commemorating the launch of the NES Classic Edition. Already we have seen interviews from the creators of Donkey Kong, Balloon Fight, Super Mario Bros.1 and 3, and The Legend of Zelda. Now we have come to the last in the series from writer, Mr. Akinori Sao. This interview features the developers of the wildly popular Metroid game (and series), Yoshio Sakamoto and Hiroji Kiyotake.

sakamoto-kiyotakeConcept and early development for the game was actually done by two of Nintendo’s youngest employees who, in fact, were novice game developers and had only ever worked on Game & Watch titles before. For many people who played the original Metroid game when it was first released on the Nintendo Entertainment System, the game was notoriously known as difficult. Some players who got their start with Super Mario Bros. and the like, may have recognized the game as a stark departure from Mario, and that was actually by design.

Ah, so what did you two new employees have in mind as you began making the game?

Kiyotake: As we were working, the Super Mario Bros.4 boom hit. So we wanted to make something that had what Super Mario Bros. didn’t have.

What Super Mario Bros. didn’t have? Like what?

Kiyotake: As a simple example, you know how Mario slides a little before stopping?


Kiyotake: So we tried to make a dead halt.

You began with movement?

Kiyotake: Yes. We wanted to make actions that Mario didn’t have. And then…

Sakamoto: Aren’t you forgetting something important?

Kiyotake: Am I?

Sakamoto: Super Mario Bros. is about avoiding enemies.

If you touch one, you lose a turn.

Sakamoto: In response to that, Kiyotake was complaining, saying, “Why do we have to avoid them?!” (laughs)


Sakamoto: When you began making Metroid, you wanted a technique called a Screw Attack for doing a spinning jump to defeat enemies. Isn’t that right?

Kiyotake: Oh, that’s right! (laughs)

As 30 years have passed since the creation and release of Metroid, a lot of the “secrets” of the game are now common knowledge, but the origin of some of those things is still unknown. By now, everyone knows the name of the protagonist of Metroid is Samus Aran, and also that she is, in fact, a woman, but how did she get her name?

Kiyotake-san, weren’t you the one who named Samus Aran?

Kiyotake: Yes, I was.

About ten years ago when I did a magazine interview, I heard from Sakamoto-san that you’re a soccer fan and took that name from the real name of Pelé, the King of Football.

Kiyotake: Yeah. (laughs) Even though it may not really be his name…

Yeah, it isn’t. (laughs)

Kiyotake: I thought so. (laughs)

Apparently, you thought Pelé’s real name is Samus Arantes Nascimentos.

Kiyotake: Yeah, yeah, something like that.

But if you look it up, it’s Edson Arantes do Nascimento.

Kiyotake: Yeah, I was totally off! (laughs)

Sakamoto: But Arantes was right. (laughs)

Yes, that much is! (laughs)

Kiyotake: I thought that conjured up the right image, so I used that name.

How did you decide to make Samus Aran a woman?

Sakamoto: Once we entered the final stage of development, we started talking about having different endings depending on how long it took players to clear the game. We wanted to prepare a reward for people who cleared it more quickly.

Kiyotake: We wondered what would surprise everyone and talked about removing Samus’s helmet.

Sakamoto: Then someone said, “It would be a shocker if Samus turned out to be a woman!” And everyone thought that would be interesting and wanted to do it, so we decided it right away.

Kiyotake: Yeah, we decided that in a flash. Back then, people played games over and over, so we wanted to give a reward for playing through quickly. Then we decided to put in four endings, with Samus removing her helmet or her suit and so forth.

As they played, everyone thought Samus was a tough, musclebound guy, but they learned in the end that Samus was a woman.

Sakamoto: People who played it back then were shocked. And even now people talk about it like a kind of legend. (laughs)

The very history of the early days at Nintendo mother-brain.pngis always an intriguing thing to me, as it is just fascinating how things came together, and certain decision led to such magnificent results. How many times were simple decisions or limitations the very things that turned out to be pivotal and most memorable! In Nintendo’s 30+ years in the video game industry, they have created a lot of the most iconic experiences ever, and as time continues to pass, it is wonderful when they take these rare moments to open up just a little bit.

Be sure to take the time to view the entire interview for Metroid here.

Did you enjoy the interview series? Have you been able to get your hands on the NES Classic Edition, yet? Do you know anyone else who has gotten one? Which classic game do you consider your favorite of the 30 games included on the system?

As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!



Get an Inside Look at the Original The Legend of Zelda

The newest interview in the series commemorating the release of the NES Classic Edition has finally been released by Nintendo, and it is all about The Legend of Zelda. The Legend of Zelda was originally released alongside the Famicom Disk System in Japan in 1986 (then later in the West in 1987). As with the other two interviews in the series, this interview is conducted by Akinori Sao, a writer from Kyoto, Japan.

Other interviews have been conducted on The Legend of Zelda before, and one of which was during an Iwata Asks interview. Take a look below:

The birth of the Second Quest, which is available for play after finishing the main game, is discussed in detail in the bonus sections of the Iwata Asks article covering The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks.

miyamoto-1This installment is an interview, once again, with Shigeru Miyamoto, Takeshi Tezuka, and Koji Kondo. Of course, this year marks the 30th Anniversary of the release of the the game in Japan, and so it’s refreshing to still learn new things about it, on occasion. Little did we know, the original idea for The Legend of Zelda came from a popular style of movies at the time of concept.

Sao: Last year was the 30th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. (laughs) To jump right in, why did you decide to make The Legend of Zelda, which came out 30 years ago for the Family Computer Disk System?

Miyamoto: The Indiana Jones movies were out around that time.

Sao: Adventure films were popular in the Eighties.

Miyamoto: Right, I wanted to bring that sense of adventure to a video game. And people playing computer RPGs back then were bragging about how strong their swordsmen had become and were calling each other at night to exchange information. When I noticed that, I thought it was an interesting milieu.

Sao: Since it was so absorbing, you wanted to make something similar yourself.

Miyamoto: Yes. So with a world of swords and sorcery as my theme, I decided to make an adventure game based on treasure-hunting, and that was the beginning of The Legend of Zelda.

For those of us who are old enough tokondo-1 remember, the Indiana Jones movies at the time, they certainly were very popular, and it’s so funny that they served as inspiration for the game that we all know now as The Legend of Zelda. Another bit of amazing information, is that way in which this time period influenced video game music creation for Kondo-san, to this very day. Having put in an all-nighter to compose the opening for the game, Kondo-san developed a lasting method for game music composition that was imperative.

Sao: (laughs) What is the NES for you, Kondo-san?

Kondo: It’s a kind of basis. I’ve always worked in video game music, and I think that’s thanks to the NES.

Sao: For you, it’s the origin of video game sound design.

Kondo: Yes. In the days of the NES, I learned how to compose video game music and about the importance of sound effects. Then, along with the development of hardware, the sounds improved in quality and we were able to use a greater variety of sounds, but when it comes to the essence of composing game music, the crucial elements haven’t changed at all. In that respect as well, I owe it to the NES that I’m able to write all kinds of music today.

Sometimes I find it fascinating that in the current climate of the gaming industry, a lot of consumers have found it convenient to buy into the notion that “more power” is the way to more appealing and creative experiences. So many people think that this race to more powerful consoles is the way to get to the most imaginative and creative games we will ever experience…such a poor set of priorities.

Sao: Last, I’d like to ask about the NES. Miyamoto-san, what did the NES mean to you?

Miyamoto: Competition.

Sao: As in various people competing through products?

Miyamoto: Yes. I’ve been in the design world since my student days, so I’m extremely aware of how important it is in competition to put forth the best possible performance within certain conditions. In that sense, the NES was competitive hardware.

Sao: You have to make games as fun as possible within certain conditions and constraints.

Miyamoto: When it comes to thinking up ideas, I think the NES represents the ultimate form of competition.

Sao: And with the NES’s limited memory, the constraints were considerable.

Miyamoto: Also, whereas you had to pay a hundred yen to play games in video arcades, people would use the NES to play for long periods of time at home…

The early days of video game creation at Nintendo, especially during the NES era, are a treasure trove of historical significance. The game developers were embracing the challenges of a true learning curve that came with making games for play in the home. I think sometimes we take for granted exactly what it was really like to be on the pioneering edge of the video game industry, as we know it to be now. There were many things that are common knowledge today, that were just being figured out then, mostly through trial and error. That is exciting to me, as we are not only able to discover these gems of info, but we can truly appreciate them in this time that some of the pioneers are right here with us to be appreciated.

If you would like to read more from the interview, feel free to check it out here. Also, if you missed any of the earlier interview posts from me, you can check out Donkey Kong and Balloon Fight, as well as Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3.

Did you know what inspired Miyamoto-san to create The Legend of Zelda? Have you ever wondered how Kondo-san can up with the music for the games he has worked on?

As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!


Nintendo Stands to Gain BIG During This Holiday Season

A few months ago, I heard some people lamenting the coming holiday season, hinting that Nintendo was going to be “characteristically” falling behind in the “console race” due to the fact that they had pushed the launch of their new console into March of 2017. “As usual”, the company is just inept, according to these people. Obviously, these conclusions were/are premature and inaccurate, but that never stops the prognosticators from making their predictions.

Nintendo as a company has been around since September 1889, and in the gaming industry since the late 1970s, and of course making home and portable consoles (along with games) since 1983 (1985, globally). The company’s main pillar of business is video games, and they have maintained their very relevant presence there ever since. Even as many other companies have come and gone, along the way, Nintendo has continued to navigate the waters of the gaming industry with mastery. As with any company in the electronic/technology industry, there are always hits and misses, but longevity proves to serve as an incredible indicator of skill. In short, Nintendo has some idea of what they’re doing!

So, as we come upon the current holiday season, we know that Nintendo has essentially ceased production and support for the Wii U, aside from eShop releases and sales. However, the Nintendo 3DS is still benefitting from some outstanding support. New games coming out, brand new updates for existing games, and more. Though sales are declining on the aging hardware, it still has a great deal of love from fans and a massive installed base to sell games.

Pokémon Sun and Moon 2.jpgAmong those games coming for the Nintendo 3DS is the recently released, and obviously popular Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon. These two iterations of the newest in the series have been greatly anticipated for quite some time, and early indications are that it is meeting and even exceeding expectations. That spells major sales during this holiday season!

In addition to the Nintendo 3DS-related nes_system_controller_boxrevenues, the company also has a few other incredible things that are set to make a huge impact on their holidays. Another recently released thing from Nintendo is the hotly desired NES Classic Edition. The initial shipments completely sold out within minutes in North America, and there’s little doubt the wannabe early adopters who missed out will absolutely make sure they are among the fortunate ones when the retailers get their restocks in from the company. Such a simple unit, at a nominal price point, and high demand spells another incredible revenue stream.

Super Mario Run 2.jpgJust like two years ago when amiibo were an instant hit, Nintendo has ways of generating revenue from the shear strength of the IP they have cultivated over the decades, and continue to create, as well. And while collector’s items and nostalgia are great motivators for fantastic sales figures, new experiences are very much a part of what Nintendo brings to the table. That is seen in their coming mobile game, Super Mario Run.The beloved mascot of the company being featured in his first-ever mobile game is definitely poised to generate a huge buzz, especially with it’s interesting pay scale.

In a recent article from Fox Business’ website, the question was asked if Apple needed Nintendo more than Nintendo needed Apple. An interesting question on its own, but within the context of the article, it is also plain to see that Super Mario Run is expected to a significant revenue generator.

Diehard Nintendo fans won’t have a problem shelling out $9.99 for the game next month, and it will be the most important iOS release for Nintendo.

Nintendo’s stock soared 29% the day the game was announced. Apple’s response was far more subtle. However, both companies have a lot riding on the release and its initial iOS exclusivity. Nintendo obviously hopes to make a dent in the mobile gaming market that has eaten into its handheld system sales.

Both companies have a very vested interest in making sure that Super Mario Run is a success. I firmly believe, for that reason, Nintendo has made sure to create a very unique experience with a very familiar face. It has been the company’s aim, for quite some time now, to bring more people into the dedicated gaming community by introducing them through the recognition of their powerful Intellectual Property. The characters that Nintendo has created stand as some of the most iconic and recognizable characters ever. The ability to draw more people into gaming just through their beloved IP is incredible, and exactly what this mobile game is looking to be able to do.

So, with the NES Classic Edition remaining in high demand (and soon-to-be restocked), the ever-popular Pokémon Sun and Moon, the forthcoming Super Mario Run, and more, Nintendo is certainly poised to have a tremendous Holiday Season. I truly look forward to seeing how well everything turns out. And just think…soon after the holidays are concluded, the next generation of Nintendo will be fully initiated! Talk about exciting!!

Will you be picking up anything Nintendo over the next few days and weeks? Have you already done so? How well do you expect Nintendo’s Holiday Season to turn out?

As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!


Behind the Iconic Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3

Last week, Nintendo introduced a new Interview series marking the launch of the NES Classic Edition globally. The Interview series centers on the development of each of the 30 NES Classic Edition titles, giving us a behind-the-scenes insider look at the making of many of our favorite games. If you’d like to go back to last week’s series entry, feel free to do so. This week, we will get a great look at the Super Mario Bros. game series, specifically the first adventure and the third one, as well.

Mr. Akinori Sao conducted a recent interview with legendary game developers Shigeru Miyamoto, Takashi Tezuka and Koji Kondo. During his interview, he kept in mind that a lot of what could be shared was likely already covered by previous Iwata Asks interviews over the years.

…so Nintendo has already shared a lot of behind-the-scenes anecdotes. For example, the Iwata Asks sessions covering the New Super Mario Bros. Wii game (Volumes 1 & 2) and the 25th anniversary of Super Mario (Volume 5: Original Super Mario Developers) come to mind.

What was shared about these two games, however, was fantastic, to say the least. It was interesting that when Tezuka-san and Kondo-san first joined Nintendo, not only had the Famicom already launched in Japan, but neither of them owned one, either.

Sao: Tezuka-san, you and Kondo-san joined Nintendo in the same year. At that time, the Famicom was already on sale.

Tezuka: That’s right. Nintendo had released the Famicom the year before, in 1983.

Sao: Did you have one?

Tezuka: Um, no. (bluntly)

Sao: (laughs)

Tezuka: I did buy one after joining the company.

Sao: And you, Kondo-san?

Kondo: I didn’t have one either. I played a lot of arcade games though. Donkey Kong<sup>TM</sup>3 was popular at the time I entered the company, so I was playing that as hard as I could.

Sao: What was your impression of the Famicom back then?

Kondo: I liked how you could play arcade games at home.

Tezuka: I didn’t have any knowledge of this thing called the Family Computer (Famicom), so I thought it was like a home computer! (laughs)

Sao: (laughs) When it first came out, I suppose more than a few people had that misunderstanding.

Tezuka: Yeah. It’s hard to believe that someone like me, who was so unknowledgeable, would end up developing games for the Famicom/NES.

Now when it came to the creation of the first entry in the Super Mario Bros. series, Miyamoto-san shared some interesting things about their aim with the game. Super Mario Bros. was meant to be the culmination of all of Nintendo’s cartridge-based games.

Sao: Our topic today is Super Mario Bros. Miyamoto-san, what was your approach toward this game?

Miyamoto: I wanted to make a game that would be the culmination of all NES cartridge games up to that point.

Sao: From the release of the original Famicom until the release of this game—which would go on to become a worldwide hit—it took two years. Did the participation of Tezuka-san and Kondo-san play a big role in making it happen?

Miyamoto: Yes. I was doing design work all on my own, so Tezuka-san’s arrival was a big help. The first game we made together was Devil World.

Sao: In Devil World, players could control a player-character twice as big as in games before it, and Excitebike had a scrolling screen and warping. And all of that accrued technology was at work in the development of Super Mario Bros.

Miyamoto: That’s right. We wanted to pack various technologies into one Famicom cartridge game, like a puzzle. So we ended up making the player character larger, and creating long courses that scroll.

Sao: The Family Computer Disk System came out the next year.

Miyamoto: That’s why I really wanted to make Super Mario Bros. the grand culmination of Famicom/NES cartridges. We had built up a lot of know-how since the release of the console, and the time had come when that would be possible.

Another really neat anecdote from the interview was when Miyamoto-san recounted the story of how power-ups came to be in the game. I thought his reaction to an incorrect report was absolutely hilarious, too.

Sao: Quite a long time ago, a manga magazine had stories about the development of Super Mario Bros.

Miyamoto: Yes, that’s right. (laughs)

Sao: That manga contained an episode in which a bug caused only Mario’s upper half to show when displaying that big Mario, and that’s what gave you the idea for a small Mario.

Miyamoto: That’s absolutely not true. (bluntly)

Sao: (laughs)

Miyamoto: I remember this clearly. Tezuka-san and Nakago-san5 and I were having a meeting, and we had the length of all the courses drawn up on a whiteboard. We were discussing whether there was any way to see farther ahead.

Sao: Mario was big, so you couldn’t see very far?

Miyamoto: Right. We could pull back for a broader view, but then Mario would be smaller. Then Nakago-san said, “Wait a minute. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a small Mario, too?”

Sao: Ah, I see. You introduced a smaller Mario to make it easier to see what’s ahead in the course.

Miyamoto: Yes. And then we decided that you’ll lose a turn when the smaller Mario runs into an enemy, when big Mario runs into an enemy, he would just get smaller. That would be a brand-new game mechanic, and we decided to go with it right away in that meeting.

Sao: So the inspiration didn’t come from a bug as in the manga. (laughs)

Miyamoto: No. (laughs)

Sao: By the way, did you ever consider letting players start the game with the bigger Mario?

Miyamoto: Starting with the small Mario would make players happier when Mario got big later, and it would also give a better impression to players.
(To Tezuka-san) We decided that quickly, right?

Tezuka: Yes.

Miyamoto: And since Mario had gotten bigger, we added “super” to the title to make it Super Mario Bros.

Later, Tezuka-san gave a lot of great information about the development of Super Mario Bros. 3 (probably my all-time favorite NES game). One such bit of information had to do with the development time and why it was taking so long to complete.

Sao: Tezuka-san, did you feel pressure as the director of Super Mario Bros. 3? After all, the original Super Mario Bros. was an incredible hit.

Tezuka: I didn’t feel pressure from the original game so much as I felt like I needed to do a good job. But it wouldn’t come together well and dragged on.

Miyamoto: And Nakago-san got angry. (laughs)

Tezuka: Yeah, he definitely got angry. (laughs)

Sao: What wouldn’t come together?

Tezuka: At first, we were making it with a bird’s-eye view rather than a side view.

Sao: The view was looking down diagonally from overhead rather than directly from the side as in Super Mario Bros.

Tezuka: Yes. But we couldn’t do it well.

Miyamoto: He said he wanted to look from a little above. But in Super Mario Bros. it is important whether Mario’s feet hit the ground or not, even barely. With a diagonal view from slightly overhead, you lost your sense of distance to the ground. So I told him that development would be difficult.

Tezuka: Yeah, it was. (laughs wryly) So partway through development, we switched to a side viewpoint, but there are relics of the bird’s-eye view in the final product.

Miyamoto: Yeah.

Tezuka: Yeah.

Sao: So the development period was a bit long.

Tezuka: Not a bit—a lot!

Miyamoto: We began after Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels in the spring of 1986, and it still wasn’t finished a year later. In the spring of the following year, we were finally able to apply the final polish.

Tezuka: Yes, that’s about right.

Miyamoto: So it took about two years. No…longer. We wanted to release it in spring of 1988, but we couldn’t do that either, so it dragged on for another six months! (laughs)
(To Tezuka-san) Right?

Tezuka: (nods silently)

Sao: So it took two and a half years. What caused such trouble?

Tezuka: Well, we wanted to put in a lot of stuff. There were all these things we wanted to do, but once all the features were placed together, there were a lot of holes that needed to be patched up.

And so, the effort and work definitely went into the creation of both Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3, which cemented the iconic character into the Pop Culture lexicon permanently. Mario is the most recognized character in the world, even surpassing Mickey Mouse. That is amazing, and to think it started as a character whose eyes were too close to his hat.

Again, I did not share all that was given to us in the interview, but if you would like to read the entire interview, feel free to do so.

I look forward to sharing even more entries in this interview series with the developers as they are made available. The process by which these gentlemen created some of the most memorable experiences in history is amazing to behold. The desire to get it right, from the mechanics, art design, and the music are all indicative of the type of game developers that Nintendo became, and still are to this very day, 30+ years later.

Were you aware of the fact that the original Super Mario Bros. was intended to be the last of the cartridge games before moving on to the disk system? Did you know that Mario started as Big Mario before becoming Small Mario…to grow into Big Mario? Did you recognize that there were remnants of the birds-eye view left in the final version of Super Mario Bros. 3?

As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!


Nintendo Introduces a New Interview Series

With the coming release of the NES Classic Edition, Nintendo is again sharing some of the background and inside information that has gone into creating my favorite video game company, and many of their iconically classic games and characters. It is always great to know the origin story of some the most influential things in our lives, and I don’t know about you, but video games, Nintendo games in particular, have been highly influential in mine. I have written on several occasions about my history and love of gaming with Nintendo.

Over the next days and weeks, Nintendo of America will be releasing several new interviews with the developers of the wonderful games that can be found (and played, of course) on the NES Classic Edition. The first two were released recently, and they are both very enlightening.

Now, instead of posting the interviews in their entirety here in the blog post, I will share a few excerpts from both, and provide links to check out the full text. That way you have the chance to see all that was divulged.

miyamoto-2The first interview was with Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto on the development of Donkey Kong and its eventual release on the NES/Famicom. The interviews were conducted by Mr. Akinori Sao, who is a writer from Kyoto, Japan.

Sao: The arcade game appeared, and then two years later the Famicom version came out in Japan. Were you involved with converting the game for the Famicom/NES?

Miyamoto: No. As with Mario Bros., I left the conversion from the arcade game to the Famicom to another team. In order to launch the Famicom, I was working on a software lineup.

Sao: Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr. and Popeye appeared simultaneously with the Famicom system.

Miyamoto: Yes, but I wanted to make seven titles for release early in the Famicom’s career. We were touting the system to use replaceable game cartridges, so we felt it would make the Famicom look bad if we released it with a lesser number of games.

It seems a lot of the early obstacles for the Famicom system are still issues that Nintendo faces to this day. Miyamoto-san was focused on making sure the console had a healthy launch lineup when it was to be released, and that is something that we know the company is very focused on this time around, as they admittedly fell short on with the Wii U launch. A couple of funny anecdotes were also shared about the development cycle for the arcade version, as well.

Sao: Did you make Donkey Kong in two or three months?

Miyamoto: Back then, we made games in three months. But Donkey Kong took a little longer—four or five months, I think.

Sao: That’s still fast. During that time, were you immersed in development?

Miyamoto: The company housing I was living in at the time was nearby across the river. So every day I was just going back and forth between work and home. Also, it was nice that the company had a bath.

Sao: There was a bath at Nintendo?

Miyamoto: Yes. The head office back then was in Toba-kaido, and there was also a factory for making Japanese playing cards. You need a boiler to make playing cards, so we used water boiled there for the adjoining bath facility as well. The people who worked at the card factory would clean themselves up in the bath after work. No one was there at night, so I could use it at my leisure.

For the full interview, be sure to go to Donkey Kong Interview.

sakamoto-1The next interview from Mr. Sao is with the developer of the NES Classic, Balloon Fight, Mr. Yoshio Sakamoto. Many people may not be very familiar with Mr. Sakamoto, so to help out, just know that:

Sakamoto-san has worked on many games, from the Metroid, WarioWare and Rhythm Heaven series to Tomodachi Life and the smartphone application Miitomo, but it was only his third year at the company when he developed Balloon Fight.

Mr. Sakamoto got his start at Nintendo working on several games in the Game & Watch series, then came one of his first lasting lessons in game design from his mentor and boss.

Sao: Oh, I see. What games did you work on after Game & Watch?

Sakamoto: The arcade game Vs. Wrecking Crew.5 Back then, my boss Gunpei Yokoi believed that if you can draw, you can make games. So I would continue drawing as I designed games. Of course, I had to consult Yokoi-san about many things.

Sao: I see.

Sakamoto: That was when I began drawing pixel art.

Then came his work on Balloon Fight.

Sao: Then you made Balloon Fight. How did that come about?

Sakamoto: Yokoi-san suggested making a game focused on giving players a sense of floating through space that also has fighting elements.

Sao: Because “if you can draw, you should be able to make games,” right?

Sakamoto: Right. So I drew some pictures and became responsible for the game design. SRD Co. was in charge of programming for the arcade version, and Satoru Iwata, who was at HAL Laboratory at the time, was in charge of the Famicom/NES version.

Another of the life lessons that Sakamoto-san learned from his mentor, Gunpei Yokoi, came during the development process for the game.

Yes. And if you pop it, you get points.

Sakamoto: That happened when Yokoi-san suddenly told me to make bubbles one day, but at first I replied that I thought it was impossible.

Why did you think that?

Sakamoto: The graphics in the Famicom/NES era were much too simplistic. I thought it would be impossible to make something like a bubble that looked transparent.

Oh, uh-huh.

Sakamoto: But Yokoi-san scolded me, saying I shouldn’t say I can’t do it before I’ve even tried.


Sakamoto: He told me to try, and I said I didn’t think it could be done but I would give it a try, and when I did…

And when you did?

Sakamoto: It was a cinch! (laughs)

Sao: (laughs)

Sakamoto: We had a basic development tool at the time that we were able to experiment with. Yokoi-san was watching by my side and said, “You see? You got it to work.” (laughs) It turned out to be really easy, so I regretted my earlier attitude. Since then, I’ve tried not to say “That’s impossible,” or “I can’t do it.”

For more insider details from the interview, be sure to check it out at Balloon Fight Interview.

I am truly excited to get more information when it comes about the development process for each of the games that are on the NES Classic Edition, and I look forward to sharing them with you all, as well. So be sure to stay tuned. I think it’s amazing that a lot of the things that were learned or even discovered during those early years are things that have shaped the process of game development at Nintendo to this very day. It just goes to show that a lot of what we may take for granted today are simply lessons that were learned long ago, often through trial and error, but they were also simply taken to heart to create the gaming giant that I call my favorite gaming company, Nintendo.

What stood out to you most in Miyamoto-san’s interview? What about in Sakamoto-san’s interview? Which game-developer interview are you most looking forward to reading about?

As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!


#NESterday Social Media Bash

nes_systemNintendo looks to be really kicking their Holiday Season into high gear now, as they are consistently promoting the many different things they have available currently, and what will be available in the very near future. Just a few months ago, many people assumed that Nintendo was virtually mailing in the Holidays because they didn’t have anything new to present for the Wii U, as it was obviously being phased out. However, the company obviously had different thoughts, as they are now approaching from multiple fronts.

A couple months ago, Nintendo unveiled the NES Classic Edition: Nintendo Entertainment System which is a miniature Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) that comes with 30 NES titles pre-loaded for all the nostalgic fun for old and new fans, alike. The NES Classic Edition launches globally on November 11, and there are a lot of people who are understandably excited about its eminent release. The company looks to be capitalizing on the desire for the unit, as well, as they are holding a launch event at the Nintendo NY store next weekend, November 11-13. This event will be nostalgia-centric, to say the least.

Like, oh my gosh! The ’80s are totally back and Nintendo is totally embracing them with the Nov. 11 launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition system, which includes 30 classic NES games such as Super Mario Bros., Metroid, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Kirby’s Adventure and PAC-MAN.

Nintendo is going all-out for this event, andnesclassic_features_scrns_05-suspend subsequently the launch of the NES Classic Edition.

Are you ready to go back in time? Grab your neon sunglasses and jelly bracelets. Things are about to get radical.

“Many of us have fond and wonderful memories of the original NES,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “With these launch activities for the NES Classic Edition, we want to replicate the nostalgic feelings of sitting down and playing the NES with your family for the first time.”

To kick off the launch, Nintendo will host a “Remembering #NESterday” social media takeover starting on Nov. 10. By using the #NESterday hashtag, Nintendo fans will be encouraged to share fond Nintendo gaming memories and even present-day photos with their old NES consoles. Some of these photos will be shared on Nintendo’s social media channels, and people will also be able to participate in a Twitter sweepstakes that will be just as tubular as you might expect.

On the night before the launch (Nov. 10) starting at 9 p.m. ET, Nintendo invites you (and anyone who wants to party like it’s 1985) to the Nintendo NY store for an ’80s-themed NES Classic Edition event. The first 250 visitors can play classic NES games, participate in a costume contest dressed as their favorite Nintendo characters or ’80s icons, and show off their NES knowledge in the ultimate retro Nintendo game show. When the clock ticks over to midnight on Nov. 11, the one-handed gloves come off and the NES Classic Edition will be available to purchase, while supplies last.

While playing one of the 30 great NES games included on the NES Classic Edition during the weekend following the Friday launch, you might find yourself puzzled by some of the more challenging games. (“How do I find the first Warp Whistle in Super Mario Bros. 3?” you might ask yourself.) If your memories of the original games fail you, no need to fret. You can just call the Power Line, which will return and run from Nov. 11 to Nov. 13, between the hours of 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. PT each day. The original Power Line was a beloved service in the ’80s that connected fans to Nintendo Game Play Counselors who offered helpful tips and tricks. In this fully automated version, you can use your real-life phone (bonus points if it has a cord!) to dial (425) 885-7529 to hear recorded tips for several games, plus behind-the-scenes stories from original Nintendo Game Play Counselors. You never know what you might learn!

With 30 great NES games, a replica of the original NES controller, three display modes (including one that makes your fancy hi-def display look like a retro tube TV) and Suspend Points for easy on-the-spot saving, the Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition is a great value at a suggested retail price of only $59.99. The stocking-sized console launches on Nov. 11.

One thing that can truly be missed by many, is the fact that for something as “simple” as the NES Classic Edition, Nintendo is creating an incredible push to promote it. Beyond this one system, Nintendo has made the tremendous effort to ensure that their marketing is much more succinct and clear. This, in itself, is a telltale sign that the company is serious about making sure their message gets out and clearly so. Many people look to a muddled message during the launch of the Wii U as the a major source of that console’s lack of commercial success. I look forward to what comes next.

Are you excited for the NES Classic Edition? Will you be picking up a unit? Do you know anyone else who will be picking up the NES Classic Edition?

As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!


Extra! Extra! Read All About It…Sort Of.

Alright, so that time of the year 2016 seems to be coming up on us rather quickly, as it seemed to have been taking forever, throughout the first 9-and-a-half months. Finally, we are coming up on the last quarterly report for the calendar year 2016 (which is the second quarter for Nintendo). And this time around, it seems that this will be an extremely important time period, as the announcement of Nintendo’s new and coming hardware is expected to be officially announced and revealed by the end of the Investor’s Briefing and Q&A next week.

Trusted Wall Street Journal reporter, Mr. Takashi Mochizuki, has written about his expectations for the Investor’s Briefing. In addition to the earnings report, the company is also expected to share their forecast projections, along with information regarding Pokémon Go, future Nintendo 3DS plans, Super Mario Run, and of course the Nintendo NX.

Mochizuki is reporting that Nintendo is expected to report both a net profit in earnings, as well as an operating profit!

The Kyoto-based company is expected to report a net profit of 18.5 billion yen ($178.5 million) and an operating profit of ¥3.2 billion yen, according to a median forecast of six analysts polled by data provider Quick. In the year-earlier quarter, Nintendo reported a profit of ¥3.2 billion and operating profit of ¥7.8 billion.

We are also expected to see more information regarding Pokémon Go and the Pokémon Go Plus accessory.

The second-quarter results will provide the first financial indications on the blockbuster smartphone app Pokémon Go. The game was developed by Nintendo affiliate Pokémon Co. and Niantic Inc., an Alphabet Inc. spinout in which Nintendo also invested. In July, Nintendo said it expected no major financial contribution from the game. Nintendo may also provide more fresh data, including sales of the game’s wearable device—Pokémon Go Plus—which Nintendo was in charge of making.

There may also be more on the Nintendo 3DS, as we are nearing the holiday season, and titles for the Wii U are no longer a viable financial topic for the company (aside from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which has already been slated for simultaneous release on the NX, as well).

Nintendo is phasing out its flagship console Wii U to focus on the NX. As a result, its popular but aging hand-held 3DS game machine will be one of the company’s few weapons for the coming holiday season. Nintendo prepared many strong titles to boost sales of the 3DS, including a new Pokémon game, Super Mario Maker and Miitopia, which has been a bit of a mystery. Nintendo has promised to talk more about it by the end of the year.

Along with the above-mentioned topics, Nintendo is also expected to share information regarding the latest announced smartphone game, Super Mario Run.

Another partnership creation from its tie-up with smartphone game maker DeNA Co., Nintendo plans to release a Super Mario game for Apple Inc.’s iOS platform in December. Nintendo may announce additional information next week.

As more information is given, we will share it, regarding the NX, however, Takashi Mochizuki believes it is highly probable that we may not get any information this week, and it will all fall into next week, in and around the Investor Meeting. Emily Rogers, however, is adamantly expecting to there to be information given this week, as well as next week. Either way, the trees are rustling and the excitement is definitely building for whatever Nintendo is about to reveal to the public, finally!

Late night UPDATE:

So as we continue to get closer to knowing definitively what Nintendo is going to have for us, it’s time to switch our focus from rumors and speculation, to analysis and true anticipation. I am really excited to see what Nintendo has been cooking up in the lab, and I truly anticipate it to be fantastic! I have been a Nintendo fan since the earliest of their console days. When I first realized there would be a home console to play games like Super Mario Bros. that I had been playing in the arcades, I knew that the NES was exactly what I wanted when it was finally to be released, but until it was I read through the catalog I’d found it in, repeatedly. I imagined playing with the device for hours on-end, until it was released and I could do so, in reality. That is the type of excitement I get from Nintendo, and that is what I am getting from NX, now!

What do you think will be the most exciting (and unexpected) feature of NX for you? Do you plan to get it, no matter what, or do you plan to wait and see what it is, first? How long have you been a fan (or are you, yet) of Nintendo consoles?

As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!