Never meet your heroes, they say (and our own John Bedford has a rum story about bumping into Nigel Havers one Christmas that's testament to this), so it's always an absolute pleasure when that well-worn adage is proven totally wrong. Like anyone who's been in thrall to Nintendo, and to Mario, I've always wanted to meet Shigeru Miyamoto, and yet I've kind of always wanted not to. How can this conjurer of so much joy, this man who's been so fundamental to the modern language of video games, live up to expectations? And what exactly do you say to someone who's surely been asked every question there is in his long, illustrious career?
Back in early July, Nintendo presented us with the opportunity to meet Miyamoto when he was in town with long-time collaborator Takashi Tezuka to promote Super Mario Maker and the Mario series' 30th anniversary, and I'm pleased to say it was an absolute delight. We asked Miyamoto to walk us through Super Mario Bros' 1-1, that most iconic of video game levels, to give us some insight into how it was made, and what was impressive - infectious, even - was the enthusiasm he still has for all the details that combine and conspire to make Mario so special to this day. It's presented under the pretence of being a classroom (you can hear us lot guffawing and chuckling away in the background), and I certainly learnt a lot about what it is that helps make Mario's magic.
Slightly later on, Takashi Tezuka showed us through Super Mario Maker with something of a charming twist. The original idea was to have Super Mario Bros' first level recreated in Mario Maker, so as to give us some insight into how it all originally came together, and how Nintendo's new level designer works. When Tezuka first loaded up the level, however, I couldn't help but notice something was slightly awry. Mario was standing at the end of a black abyss, being faced down by a chain-chomp made of bricks, while other chain-chomps stood in the way of the final goal. I didn't remember 1-1 being quite like this. Sensing the slightly quizzical looks on our faces, Tezuka pointed out the star of this particular level: not one-one, but wanwan! Which, it turns out, is what chain-chomps are known as in Japan. You learn something new every day. Tezuka's special creation still worked a treat, and alongside Miyamoto he provides a good insight into what makes a good Mario level, and how to get the best out of Super Mario Maker.
And here's the class of Eurogamer paying rapt attention to their teachers. Not sure who let that guy in the middle in.