First of all, congratulations on receiving your fellowship into BAFTA.
Some might say that such an honor is decades overdue and deserved on the merit of Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros. alone. Do you agree, or do you place more importance on your recent works?
I don’t really know… I think that my best work is yet to come, actually. I mean, in the past five years I’ve been working on such unusual game titles, like Wii Fit Plus or Wii Sports Resort. And, probably, ten years ago I could never have been able to imagine that I would be making games like that. I’ve really enjoyed making unusual titles like those, that can remind me that in the next ten years or so I’ll be able to have unexpected joy in creating some very different genres from what I can imagine today. That’s why I can say that the best is yet to come to me.
Since you say that the best is still to come, do you foresee retirement in your future?
Well, I am one of the company workers and the company has to retire me some time. So from that perspective, yes I may have to retire from Nintendo some day. But when I look around and see how aged cartoonists continue to work on their manga and how movie directors create new movies all the time, I understand that they would never retire. And by the same token, I guess I will still be making games somehow. The only question is whether the younger people will be willing to work with me at that far point in the future.
Is there a definite sense that the type of games you enjoy creating are changing as you mature?
Well I just don’t know, but when I look back I can tell that after I started having a family, I certainly wanted to make games that could be played with all the family members. That was definitely the big change in my life, as well as my career in making games. As I am ageing, naturally, how I want my videogames to be played must be changing. Having said that, however, I have never lost my passion for making the so-called ‘traditional’ type of games, which is why I have devoted so much of myself to the creation of Super Mario Galaxy 2. So all I can say is that the type of game I will be willing to work on must be varied and expanded in theme. Right now, I have to ask myself what kind of game I would be willing to work on right before my death. I just cannot imagine that right now, but in the near future I think the kind of themes we work in as videogame creators will be expanded, so I’m very excited to see what kind of games I can make in the future.
Returning right back to the game that defined the beginning of your career, we wonder if you’ve seen the King Of Kong documentary film…
What did you think of it?
Well, I was certainly flattered and glad to see the film. I was surprised to see people reacting so well to a game that I had worked on in various unexpected ways, and doing some very crazy things in the process. That really flatters me.
Why do you think a game as old and primitive as Donkey Kong still inspires such a following across the globe?
Well, I think it reminds us of the importance of the very basic structure of videogames. Knowing that basic structure when creating a new game will have a huge difference compared to if you weren’t aware of the basics. In the case of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, for example, from the perspective of new developers, we were able to take the basic structure and then change it into something new. And we also have the Virtual Console on Wii, of course, where people can enjoy the traditional, classic types of videogames. I think that can be a good thing for game creators as well, because they can now learn how games used to be. I think we need to repeat that kind of process. Whenever we are trying to make some step forward, we should understand what was the origin and how we started making some of those complicated things.