Ancient Miyamoto Interview Talks Music, Weird Donkey Kong Games

Shigeru Miyamoto smiles while standing in front of a green fence covered in squares.

Photo: Rodin Eckenroth (Getty Images)

A newly translated 1986 interview between Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto and Namco’s Masanobu Endo reveals some neat details about the games the two designers were playing at the time, the music Miyamoto was working on, and his hopes for Mario’s future.

A little background on these two before we get into the fun stuff. Shigeru Miyamoto has been with Nintendo since the 70s and is responsible for inventing famous characters such as Mario and Donkey Kong. The creator of franchises such as The Legend of Zelda and Pikmin, has helped shape the look of countless iconic games. In the meantime, Masanobu Endo was a programmer and designer at Namco. While working there, he helped develop the incredibly influential arcade games Xevious and The Tower of Druaga. In 1985 he will create his own game studio and continued to work with Namco on various Magic and Druaga ports and original projects such as Nintendo DS’ Okamiden. At the time of the interview, Miyamoto was less experienced in the industry than Endo.

This old interview recently translated by Shmulations, which is now believed to be the earliest verified online interview of Miyamoto. Website describes himself as a “repository” of old interviews translated by Japanese game developers and yesterday posted this wonderful conversation between Miyamoto and Endo from the February 1986 issue of Famimaga.

NintendoComplete / Nintendo

Right out of the gate, Miyamoto and Endo spend some time talking about how great it is Donkey Kong Jr. Math it is, with Endo admitting that while it’s “kind of old now” he still wants to play it. Miyamoto then seems to agree, adding that while it’s a “simple game” it can become much more with others.

“It turns into a real fun time when you’re playing it with two players,” Miyamoto said. “It’s also very popular with Nintendo staff.”

If you have played Donkey Kong Jr. Maththeir feelings may surprise you.

Miyamoto’s love of American Bluegrass music

Later in the interview, Miyamoto talks about how people who want to become game designers or directors should be curious. He goes on to say that they should try a “variety of things” and then nonchalantly drops this nugget:

“In the past, when I had free time, I would go to pachinko or play live music. I love this genre called bluegrass, it’s like American Enka or something.”

This is a wild piece that you could probably use to win some bets with friends. But even better is Endo’s response, with the Namco designer responding to Miyamoto with, “Wow, that’s great. This is really awesome.” Yes, I agree Endo. Very awesome.

It’s interesting to note that Miyamoto mentions in this interview that he wanted “Mario to continue to get used to Nintendo games.” And I think this wish has definitely come true, as in 2023 we not only still have news Mario games, but they are getting ready for a big budget Hollywood animated film starring people like Chris Pratt and Jack Black. So yeah, I think his wish for Mario to continue to “get used” to Nintendo came true.

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