• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.
  • Hey Guest. Check out the NeoGAF 2.2 Update Thread for details on our new Giphy integration and other new features.
  • The Politics forum has been nuked. Please do not bring political discussion to the rest of the site, or you will be removed. Thanks.

Nintendo's Miyamoto wants to make Mario the new Mickey Mouse

Bullet Club

Member
Oct 24, 2017
10,550
23,973
1,210
Nintendo's Miyamoto wants to make Mario the new Mickey Mouse

Legendary game creator has high hopes, but achieving goal may take generations

OSAKA -- Mickey's days may be numbered. Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of the "Super Mario" video game series, has set his sights on dethroning Walt Disney's enduring icon as the world's most popular character, replacing Mr. Mouse with the mustachioed Italian plumber, Mario.

A lifelong fan of the Disney character he aims to unseat, Miyamoto -- the creative mastermind of Kyoto-based Nintendo and now a representative director -- met with the media recently in an interview that ranged from his past achievements to his future vision.

In October, the super creator was selected as a Person of Cultural Merit, a Japanese award honoring people who have made outstanding cultural contributions to the country. "I'm not quite comfortable being in the spotlight," he said, smiling but looking more than a little embarrassed. "It's really a stroke of luck that video games have become an integral part of Japanese culture."

Despite his celebrity status in the gaming world and long list of achievements, Miyamoto's remains low-key, almost self-effacing. "You can achieve nothing alone," he said, revealing the importance he places on teamwork. "I'm proud of the fact that many of the original members [of Nintendo's development team] are still working with me at headquarters."

Miyamoto spent much of his youth as an aspiring cartoonist. He had to eventually give up his dream of becoming a manga artist, citing "hurdles that were too high." But his passion for manga remained, driving his efforts to transform gaming from a geeky hobby into entertainment for everybody.

Manga has its roots in traditional Japanese of storytelling, relying heavily on pictures to tell a story. The genre became firmly entrenched in the nation's popular culture through the proliferation of cheap manga magazines starting in the early 20th century. As TVs found their way into virtually every household, manga found a new incarnation as anime.

Video games have progressed similarly, moving from the limited confines of geekspace into living rooms across the country. As the digital age dawned, video games took on a whole new look. "Every new technology led to a new Super Mario," Miyamoto said.

Upon joining Nintendo in 1977, Miyamoto spent much time trying to get his creations reviewed in magazines. After his popularity skyrocketed on the backs of Mario -- the creator's alter ego -- and his pet Donkey Kong, Miyamoto started viewing Mickey Mouse not just as a source of inspiration, but also as a goal. Could Mario become as universally admired as the ultimate embodiment of pop culture?

Working in Kyoto -- the nation's capital of traditional Japanese culture -- also factored into the success of Miyamoto and that of Nintendo. He recalls how in his 20's he believed one had to live and work in Tokyo to make it as a leading game designer. He soon realized, however, that "following cutting-edge trends is not everything."

After moving to Kyoto, he developed the Donkey Kong arcade game, where Mario -- or Mr. Video, as Miyamoto initially called him -- made his debut. The game catapulted Nintendo to global fame after its successful debut in the U.S.

Tucked away in the relative quiet city free from the endless barrage of trends sweeping Tokyo, Miyamoto sought to create entertainment that transcended borders. It required a somewhat vanilla approach, but would free him from the creative bother of having to tailor his work to different cultural norms. He also wanted to avoid any religious elements so his creations could be accepted universally.

Miyamoto says his underlying objective in product development is to create "games that are fun even for bystanders." This means making games complex and fascinating. Miyamoto wants to entice casual observers into actually wanting to join in.

He also knows that most gamers like a good fight. His action-adventure game "Legend of Zelda," which debuted in 1986, does not disappoint. "When you first play the game you get stomped, even by weak enemies," he said. "But as you progress, you eventually become a superhero, handing out regular beatings to the characters who once had you down." The game has grown into a hugely successful franchise, having sold over 106 million copies worldwide.

Mario, however, will remain the face and primary cash cow of Nintendo. In moves to leverage the character's appeal, a Mario-themed attraction called "Super Nintendo World" will debut in the summer of 2020 at Universal Studio Japan, followed by a launch at the park's namesake in America. These come on the heels of the Mario Shopping Kart character goods shop that opened this month in Tokyo -- Nintendo's first official store in Japan. A movie featuring Mario is also in the works and is due to hit theaters in 2020.

Miyamoto says his creative direction has been changing. For many years, he tried to maintain a certain consistency with Mario. While this has given the character an air of familiarity, it has cramped Miyamoto's style. For example, if Mario is known to like certain foods, the character cannot suddenly develop a distaste for them in subsequent episodes.

This has inspired Miyamoto to avoid casting Mario too rigidly, giving him freedom to explore different character scenarios. "I've become more interested in creating greater opportunities for a larger audience to enjoy" the Mario world, Miyamoto says.

It is not just a sense of altruism that has guided Miyamoto. The approach ensures that Mario will not die with him, essentially leaving successive generations of creators with a template that can evolve with the times, just as Mickey Mouse has done long after the death of Walt Disney.

But there are other hurdles."Many parents want to keep their children from playing video games," Miyamoto said. "But these same parents have no problem allowing them to watch Disney movies." This contradiction bothers Miyamoto and could thwart his plans to topple Mickey. "We cannot seriously challenge [Disney] unless parents start feeling comfortable about their children playing Nintendo."

With the "Super Mario" game boasting sales of some 361 million copies worldwide, Miyamoto feels his character can just about hold its own against Disney's fabled mouse as regards cultural impact and financial success. But he still thinks he has a long way to go before Mario becomes as thoroughly ingrained in the global psyche as Mickey, a journey that may take generations.

In the meantime, the creator continues to do what he does best. "I intend to keep trying to create something new that brings smiles to people around the world without focusing too much on what we have already created," he said.

Source: Nikkei
 

billyxci

Formerly 'billyjoexci'
Aug 3, 2014
13,815
8,715
970
He is kinda like the Mick Mouse of video games though. Everyone recognizes Mario even if they aren't really into games.

Still, Mick Mouse is vastly more iconic and recognizable but as far as video games it's hard to beat Mario. I'd say only Pikachu comes close...actually might be more famous than Mario now.
 

GreyHorace

Member
Jun 14, 2019
2,495
6,921
650
Please no Miyamoto-san. Don't give Bob Chipman any more material for his sick fantasies.

 

TLZ

Member
Oct 20, 2015
10,889
15,824
980
Sydney
I wish he realized this 30 years ago and started many proper cartoons then. Better late than never.
 
Sep 25, 2016
2,049
516
540
He already is in the video game World.

Between Odyssey, Kart, Smash, Tennis, Party and Olympic Games he’s helped sell over 50 million full price games on Switch alone.

Then there’s Kart and Run on Smart phones where he’s helped push over 350 million downloads.

No one comes close to his numbers in the videogame World.
 
Last edited:

Ahjumbie

Member
Mar 26, 2013
3,199
2,767
1,030
www.twitch.tv
"He had to eventually give up his dream of becoming a manga artist, citing "hurdles that were too high." " I'm going to go out on a limb here and say he probably made the right decision ..kinda , maybe , sorta..
 
  • Like
Reactions: Aidah

Javthusiast

Member
Mar 20, 2017
3,681
8,359
760
Is Mario gonna go around breaking peoples kneecaps with a bat now like Mickey? Cause somebody gotta show these Nintendo properties how to properly make that cash money.

 
  • LOL
Reactions: Joe T. and JimiNutz

StormCell

Member
Dec 11, 2018
2,458
2,710
540
"He had to eventually give up his dream of becoming a manga artist, citing "hurdles that were too high." " I'm going to go out on a limb here and say he probably made the right decision ..kinda , maybe , sorta..

Yep. I feel like this is a valuable life lesson and piece of wisdom.
 

RealGassy

Banned
Sep 22, 2019
344
365
250
All this has convinced me that copyright protection for characters like Mickey Mouse, Mario, etc should be much shorter and not exceed 20-30 years.
Same for any other copyright honestly.
Mickey Mouse has pulled this shit for like 75 years LOL.
 

lingpanda

Member
Nov 23, 2012
725
231
720
Many moons ago Mario was very iconic and video games were referred to as just Nintendo. Like most things, time changes everything. However Nintendo getting in the theme park business is a step in getting back a little of it's notoriety. As long as no kid goes down a warp pipe never to be seen or heard from again.
 

DunDunDunpachi

Patient MembeR
Apr 18, 2018
29,332
70,266
1,405
USA
dunpachi.com
Unlike Mickey Mouse, people will actually gravitate towards media with Mario in it and will buy it.

Mickey Mouse is so thoroughly plastered over everything, it's hard to tell how many people genuinely like him and buy his stuff. When he was given his own dedicated series with a legendary dev on the most popular 6th gen console, it still flopped and few remember it.

Mickey is a logo, not a character.
 

JimiNutz

Banned
Apr 15, 2007
12,471
5,985
1,680
London UK
I really like that Nintendo are trying to expand their horizons again and transcend gaming.

The planned theme parks and the animated Mario movie are both really good ideas in my opinion. The store in NYC is pretty awesome as well and like a mini museum to all things Nintendo.

I'd really like to see them move into arcades next and try to bring back that public/social aspect of gaming. There's already the Mario Kart arcade machines that Namco make and I think it'd be cool to see some more arcade machines based on Nintendo IP. A Nintendo arcade would be pretty sweet.

I think the Mario movie has a great shot at being the first really well received and successful videogame movie. This does look Disney quality in my opinion.

 
  • Like
Reactions: Madevil
Dec 25, 2018
3,881
3,755
770
Manchester, England
Disney ruined their own Mascot by not marketing him in an appealing show for years.

I don't mind Mickey or Mario, but Mario has been consistently marketed in games, media and merchandise whereas Disney put Mickey on the backseat on some of the media, leaving only the merchandise on clothing to sell.

On a personal level, Sonic appeals more appeal on Merchandise than Mario and Mickey despite not having the best selling games or even best reviewed games but damn the shows can be pretty good.

Pikachu is the de-facto mascot of what appeals everywhere though.
 

Enjay

Member
Feb 18, 2009
3,002
2,285
1,125
Ppl saying mario is already more popular than mickey mouse are wrong. Mickey's about to hit his centennial.
 

Solarstrike

Member
Jun 12, 2018
791
1,144
525
44
United States
Mario has always been considered Nintendo's own "Mickey Mouse" to the millions of fans around the world, i think. With respect to Miyamoto-san, i believe one should disagree wholeheartedly with the synopsis of ever being associated with that dirty mouse though. Comparing Mario to that hood rat evil little bitch who does wicked things when nobody is looking, is quite alarming. Mario would kick the living fucking shit out of Mickey in no time flat. Mickey can go to the bowels of hell. #Mario2020
 
Last edited:

sinnergy

Member
Jun 16, 2007
4,865
2,577
1,285
In the younger generation he might be and outside of the USA, US loves Disney in general. He is on his way imo!
 
Jan 16, 2011
1,976
646
785
Mario and Pikachu are strong contenders but as they said, it may take generations. Mickey Mouse is introduced to children on their first month of life through plushies and toys.
 
Feb 7, 2012
1,219
1,217
960
Unfortunately this means mario becomes even more standardized...i really miss the ever changing design mario had through the 80s until he became mario 64 and then has looked the same ever since for branding reasons.






 

v1oz

Member
Apr 11, 2010
2,373
79
905
He is kinda like the Mick Mouse of video games though. Everyone recognizes Mario even if they aren't really into games.

Still, Mick Mouse is vastly more iconic and recognizable but as far as video games it's hard to beat Mario. I'd say only Pikachu comes close...actually might be more famous than Mario now.
I don’t think kids born in the last decade could recognise Mickey Mouse. He isn’t on tv or anywhere actually.
 

Diddy X

Member
Jan 7, 2018
1,258
1,332
440
Mario is a way better character tho, Mickey Mouse is maybe more popular but his personality is like... not cool anymore, just that its image is everywhere and is Disney's mascot of course.
 

Fat Frog

Member
Mar 21, 2019
805
786
325
Mario is a way better character tho, Mickey Mouse is maybe more popular but his personality is like... not cool anymore, just that its image is everywhere and is Disney's mascot of course.
Both are ugly and not cute, funny...

They are way better characters at Nintendo or Disney.


Donald Duck? Scrooge ?
 

Bakkus

Member
Oct 12, 2014
2,539
826
570
26
Norway
Donald is much more popular than Mickey in Scandinavia. Although that has to do with the comics being the most popular here per capita. I think Donald is also more popular than Mickey in Latin America although I could be wrong.
 

Fat Frog

Member
Mar 21, 2019
805
786
325
Donald is much more popular than Mickey in Scandinavia. Although that has to do with the comics being the most popular here per capita. I think Donald is also more popular than Mickey in Latin America although I could be wrong.
I don't know a single person (irl) who prefers Mickey. That bastard has everything for him (good profession, a lover etc). Donald is poor, must take care of 3 nephews, a girl friend dating his cousin... Donald is meant to be our favorite character.
 

VysePSU

Member
May 9, 2019
4,158
8,682
990
I really like that Nintendo are trying to expand their horizons again and transcend gaming.

The planned theme parks and the animated Mario movie are both really good ideas in my opinion. The store in NYC is pretty awesome as well and like a mini museum to all things Nintendo.

I'd really like to see them move into arcades next and try to bring back that public/social aspect of gaming. There's already the Mario Kart arcade machines that Namco make and I think it'd be cool to see some more arcade machines based on Nintendo IP. A Nintendo arcade would be pretty sweet.

I think the Mario movie has a great shot at being the first really well received and successful videogame movie. This does look Disney quality in my opinion.

This is a fan-made trailer, unless I am reading the last part of your post wrong.

I've been a fan of Super Mario ever since I got into playing video games with Super Mario World and throughout the years I feel that Nintendo dethroned Disney regarding the popularity of their characters. But then I've never been a big fan of Disney apart from liking Treasure Planet and some movies by Pixar. There's just something genuinely entertaining and timeless about Super Mario. I think I'll continue to enjoy the IP for as long as I still like playing video games and I can't wait to see the upcoming movie.
 
Last edited:

Jubenhimer

Member
Nov 11, 2018
1,657
2,154
560
24
Nintendo has become a new Disney in many respects, and I don't like it at all.

They're still nowhere near the size and reserves as Disney though. And I doubt Nintendo is all that interested in being the all-consuming, monopolistic, mass media conglomerate that Disney has become.
 

ExpandKong

Banned
Jan 9, 2018
5,246
14,687
825
I don’t think kids born in the last decade could recognise Mickey Mouse. He isn’t on tv or anywhere actually.

My two-year old has Mickey and Minnie plushies in her bed right now. I’m pretty sure Disney’s getting to them in-utero now.
 

MagnesG

Member
Apr 20, 2019
2,830
2,170
505
They're still nowhere near the size and reserves as Disney though. And I doubt Nintendo is all that interested in being the all-consuming, monopolistic, mass media conglomerate that Disney has become.
I agree, their portfolio is just too different. For now.