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Miyamoto: "I knew I was lying to children"

Past fibs led him to director's chair on NSMB.

Shigeru Miyamoto has revealed how clearing up the bizarre rules he's created for Mario games over the last 30 years led him to working much more closely on New Super Mario Bros. Wii than on most recent Nintendo releases, assuming the role of a director as well as producer.

The revelation comes in the latest Iwata Asks, another cosy fireside chat between Nintendo's president Satoru Iwata and design chief Miyamoto.

It's the usual mix of reminiscence, banter, insight and stating the obvious from the pair as they look back on Mario's earliest roots as well as the thinking behind New Super Mario Bros. on the DS and the latest Wii game. But if the previous episode's revelation that Miyamoto is addicted to guessing the lengths of objects made you fear for the great man's marbles, this discussion proves that his design sense is still sharp - if sometimes hard for his colleagues to understand.

Talking over the design of the Mario Bros. arcade game, Miyamoto mentioned that he made the turtle enemies come out of their shells to show that they were vulnerable.

"But turtles aren't just borrowing their shells like hermit crabs, you know!" scolded his boss.

"That's just ridiculous!" agreed Miyamoto. "No, turtles' spines develop to become shells, so of course real turtles aren't actually able to fly out of their shells... I knew that I was lying to children," he confessed.

Later, these "lies" - the surreal features and rules of the Mario universe, including blocks that float on their own and how you can shoot fireballs underwater - came back to haunt him. During the development of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Miyamoto struggled to explain how things should work in Mario games to more logically-minded colleagues.

"This time round there were several directors on the project and inevitably they weren't all on the same wavelength in terms of their level of understanding of the concept of Mario. That made it necessary for me to go right into the development area and say: 'Look, this is how things work in Mario games!'" he said.

"From my perspective, when I went to the development area, it really played on my mind that you could still see the consequences of all the lies I had told in the past all over the place... That’s why, even though I was supposed to have been the producer, I ended up acting like a director for that period, writing the specification documents. To write those, you need the person who first told the lie… "

"You have to take responsibility for your lies," agreed Iwata.

Check out the full chat for more from Miyamoto, including why he personally hates seeing the Super Guide, how Mario couldn't originally jump, what Mario games smell like, why he believes replaying levels is essential to enjoying an action game. It's a good read. For Eurogamer's own look back on his lies, check out The Super Mario Bros. Story.

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Oli Welsh


Oli was Eurogamer's MMO Editor before a seven-year stint as Editor. He worked here for a colossal 14 years, shaping the website and leading it.

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