Walt Disney was a game-changer for the cartoon industry. Nintendo has their very own “Walt Disney,” Shigeru Miyamoto. He’s behind some of the biggest names in Nintendo video games: Donkey Kong, Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, and F-Zero are all titles he created. These franchises are some of the most famous in the world.
Shigeru Miyamoto got his start at Nintendo at in 1977. The company was relatively small and only recently started video games. Before, Nintendo sold cards, toys, and everything they could before moving into arcade games. Nintendo initially hired Miyamoto as a graphic designer. After proving skilled in game design, he moved onto developing arcade titles.
Miyamoto came to his first brilliant idea in the 1980s. One of Nintendo’s arcade games wasn’t successful in the US. Nintendo needed a plan quickly, so they asked Miyamoto to design a replacement for the failed Radar Scope. Miyamoto created Donkey Kong to replace it, and it was history from there.
After Donkey Kong, Miyamoto would go on to release games like The Legend of Zelda and Star Fox, with designs reminiscent of his childhood adventures. But what about games you wouldn’t expect? Did you know he was involved with a Metal Gear Solid Game? Check out 15 Nintendo games you didn’t know Shigeru Miyamoto was involved with. Let us know which one shocked you the most!
14 Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes
Everyone knows Metal Gear Solid, especially the remake that came out on the GameCube, Twin Snakes. But did you know Shigeru Miyamoto was involved with the stealth game?
While Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes was mostly developed by Silicon Knights, with the original created by Hideo Kojima, Miyamoto stepped in as a guide to the game developers. Miyamoto and Kojima partnered to advise Silicon Knights on the remake, bringing the original mastermind behind solid snake and the Nintendo genius together.
The experience was a dream come true for Hideo Kojima. Kojima stated “I’m tremendously excited to introduce a unique Metal Gear Solid experience...as well as collaborate with my mentor… Mr. Miyamoto.” So, not onl
13 Donkey Kong Country
While Donkey Kong Country is known for being the first Donkey Kong title without Miyamoto, this is untrue. Miyamoto didn’t produce or direct the ape-starring game, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have involvement.
Released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), Donkey Kong Country changed Miyamoto’s Donkey Kong series. The titular main character had a protagonistic role and personality change. Miyamoto gave suggestions, including Donkey Kong’s hand slap move. He was also involved in Donkey Kong’s revamped looks since this was his first “platform” title. Miyamoto worked closely with Rare on the original title as well.
While many rumors circulate about Miyamoto’s feelings about Donkey Kong Country, the designer himself stated “...some rumor got out that I didn’t like the game? I want to clarify that that’s not the case…”
Earthbound was a sleeper hit for Nintendo. Initially, the game had a small audience in North America, but the protagonist (Ness) became popularized through Super Smash Bros. The US, however, went a long time without experiencing the series’ actual first game, Mother, which Miyamoto worked on.
Copywriter Shigesato Itoi, the game’s writer and director, approached Shigeru Miyamoto with the idea for Mother. Itoi was at Nintendo on other business but had a chance to pitch the idea to Miyamoto. Miyamoto initially denied the idea, but eventually, he provided Itoi, an entire development team.
Miyamoto would go on to help the team produce Mother. Miyamoto was not involved in developing Earthbound (known as Mother 2 in Japan) and hasn't worked on a game in the series since the original.
While he’s known for hallmark titles, Shigeru Miyamoto had a hand in many arcade games, including the infamous Sheriff. Miyamoto designed the sprite art for the arcade title.
Nintendo’s first R&D team, R&D1 developed Sheriff in 1979. Besides Gun Fight, it’s one of the earliest Western-style games. The game centered on the player as the Sheriff defending himself from a gang of bandits. Controlled by a joystick, the sheriff can shoot in eight directions and can spray many different villains. The game isn’t as easy at it sounds, especially the longer you play. The longer, the faster the bandits get.
Miyamoto designed all the characters for the new shooter. While it seems shocking, this wouldn’t be the only arcade game that involved Miyamoto.
10 Radar Scope
Speaking of arcade games, Miyamoto also worked on Radar Scope, a 1979 cabinet arcade game. Radar was one of Miyamoto’s first developed titles. The shooter led to Donkey Kong.
Since Miyamoto is mostly known for developing Nintendo’s great platformer titles, it’s hard to believe that he developed shooters. Radar Scope is a shooter game similar to Space Invaders — the player defends themselves from incoming enemies. The game contains a more three-dimensional-like platform than it’s counterpart.
Radar Scope saw initial success, but the buzz dissolved almost as soon as it came. The game hit New York in 1980 and saw minimal desire. Nintendo wanted to design a new game with Radar Scope’s hardware. The gaming giant picked Shigeru Miyamoto’s revolutionary idea, Donkey Kong, and it was history from there.
9 Ice Climber
It seems like the Ice Climber are more famous from Smash Bros. than their own game. While Shigeru Miyamoto was initially known for his development skills, Ice Climber put Miyamoto’s in the production seat. Today, he’s known for his long line of producing Nintendo titles.
Ice Climber came out for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985. Ice Climber put players on a level with eight layers of ice. One player controls blue jacket wearing Inuit, Popo and the other controls Nana, a girl with a pink coat. Players use wooden mallets to crush the ice and beat enemies to get to the top. Thus, the name Ice Climber.
Ice Climber helped Miyamoto get more credit as a game developer.
N-Space was a game development company mostly dedicated to Nintendo. Listed on Game Informer’s worst horror games of all time is N Space’s, Geist. Like Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes, Geist was a mature title for the GameCube. While it was rare, adults got GameCube games too. Nintendo revealed Geist at E3 in 2003, but a series of delays set the title back to a 2005 release. While he wasn’t a producer or director, Miyamoto had direct input on Geist.
Miyamoto’s involvement was minimal, but he still had input. Miyamoto and Nintendo staff members worked directly with N-Space, and some of the staff worked solely for that collaboration. Miyamoto also suggested some mechanics in the game, bringing the in-game object possession to life through his suggestions.
Excitebike was released as a launch title for the NES in 1985. The motocross racer was the first racing game for the NES, and you bet Shigeru Miyamoto was involved. Miyamoto did design for this title since he was famous for it then.
Excitebike isn’t the usual motorcycle racing game — it’s a side-scrolling style racing game with a solo mode. Like most games of the time, players could set records for finish time. Each time a new record was achieved, they’d get a message “it’s a new record,” adding excitement to the racing game. The game also introduced an early Super Mario Maker prototype, “Design Mode.” The mode allowed players to customize original tracks.
Miyamoto designed the game, including levels racers and the “design mode.” For 1985, the graphics were stunning.
7 Devil World
Nintendo release Devil World for the NES in 1984. Miyamoto designed the Pacman-style maze game with newcomer designer Takashi Tezuka (who has directed many famous Nintendo games). Miyamoto supplied ideas while Tezuka designed them. It was Tezuka’s first job after joining Nintendo full-time.
Devil World puts players in control of Tamagon, a green dragon who wants to attack hell. Tamagon goes through mazes and picks up cross-shaped power-ups to breathe fire. At the top is a winged demon referred to as “the Devil.” Tamagon collects bibles and crosses to chase “the Devil” off to the next level. A second player can join as a red Tamagon.
Miyamoto and Tezuka did a beautiful job on the levels. However, the game only came out in Japan and Europe due to religious icons. Use of the devil, crosses, Bibles, and other religious symbols set off Nintendo of America’s strict policies.
6 Wave Race
The late 80s, 90s, and 2000s were the heydays for Miyamoto’s direct involvement in games. While he mostly supervises now, back in 1992, he was heavily involved in designing and producing Nintendo titles. Japan never got Wave Race, though.
Featuring two distinct modes, Wave Race simulated watercraft racing for the original Game Boy. The first mode, Slalom, is a point-scoring game where players rush through posts to gain points. The second, race, is a race between the player and computers. The game was produced by Miyamoto and still holds decent reviews. The game emulates wave racing very well.
Nintendo created Wave Race during Miyamoto’s prime work in games. Most of the games he supervises come out excellent, but the ones he produced and designed revolutionized an upcoming industry.
5 Color TV Racing Game 112
Let’s hit rewind back to Nintendo’s early days. When Shigeru Miyamoto was hired at the gaming giant, he didn't jump right into creating Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda. Matter of fact, his first project was Color TV Racing Game 112, which is just as fun as it sounds!
Shigeru Miyamoto was hired only as a graphic designer, but he proved to have talents in game development. Nintendo’s early games were similar to Pong, but Miyamoto took their first inventions a step further. He added an arcade-like steering wheel and gear shift to the game, which was revolutionary for 70’s. The wheel created interactivity for the simple tv game.
Color TV Racing Game 112 served as a domino effect for Miyamoto, as he then made legendary titles for the company afterward.
4 Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Unite!
Hamtaro was a huge anime in North America in 2002. For about a year, you could find Hamtaro merchandise all over the place. There were even Hamtaro video games for Game Boy Color, but they never saw commercial success. Little did you know that Miyamoto dipped his hand in the hamster led adventure.
The game was entertaining and had hints of Miyamoto’s work. Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Unite! had similar gameplay mechanics to Zelda titles — puzzles, fighting enemies, finding treasures, etc. It was evident that the title had Miyamoto’s eyes on it, like the other Hamtaro games.
While surprising, the children-friendly themes in Hamtaro were perfect for Miyamoto to oversee. Unfortunately, Hamtaro’s popularity died out in North America after the first series and several specials and the games shortly followed.
3 1080° Snowboarding
The Nintendo 64 was a wildly entertaining system. Miyamoto was heavily involved with many games on the console, including Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. But, he participated in the creation of the snowboard racing title 1080° Snowboarding.
While the fantasy lands of Mario and Zelda are his usual, Miyamoto would produce 1080° Snowboarding. The game was one of Nintendo 64’s best titles, receiving incredibly favorable reviews from critics. The player played as a snowboarder with six different modes, including a few different training modes.
Although this is far from platformers, Miyamoto’s production on 1080° Snowboarding was a beautiful touch. The title also won an Interactive Achievement Award from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, setting Nintendo up for future success down the road with the Nintendo Wii.
Splatoon achieved something most shooters couldn’t — introducing paintball like elements. The game was a kid-friendly shooter, which is almost an oxymoron. Since Miyamoto worked closely on Zelda and Mario, it’s a surprise that he did a shooter as well.
The paint splatting filled game was an instant hit with the gaming community. However, Miyamoto was doubtful of this, initially. The gaming producer stated that there’s “no appeal to this game,” during the beginning stages of the title. This suggestion caused the directors to add various features and mechanics. Miyamoto’s input and opinions acted as a guide for them, giving the game the extraordinary boost it needed.
The game was a mega hit after release and thanks to Miyamoto’s production and overall guidance on the project. The next one will likely be a hit too.
While Shigeru is known for more quirky titles like Mario, Zelda, and Pikmin, he initially worked on Popeye. The character was a little more straightforward than the magic of Mario or Link, but he was popular. Based on the comic strip/cartoon, the Popeye game featured players as Popeye, who had to avoid enemies and catch items from Olive Oyl.
Along with Genyo Takeda, Shigeru Miyamoto designed Nintendo’s Popeye. Miyamoto wanted to put Popeye characters in Donkey Kong, making Donkey Kong an adversary for the sailor. However, Nintendo couldn’t get licenses for the characters at the time. Thus, because Popeye couldn’t be used, Mario was created.
It’s a good thing Miyamoto worked on Popeye. We all know that Mario is more popular than Popeye today and we wouldn’t have the jumping plumber without that experience.
Nintendo created some of the best games in the video game industry. The legendary Nintendo franchises will continue making their mark in the industry. While he pioneered these games, he was involved with other games no one expected. Which one was the surprised you the most?