Miyamoto on the 3DS, Zelda, and More

IGN AU: How long has the 3DS been in development? What’s the process behind the scenes?

Shigeru Miyamoto: Basically the way it works is ”“ once we’ve finalised the design for a new hardware system and we’ve launched the hardware system, the hardware teams immediately begin research on what the next system will be. So it’s been ”“ I don’t know how long ”“ I guess about six years since we launched Nintendo DS, so they’ve been researching and experimenting with various things over the last six years, but it really finally started to take this shape that we see now about three years ago.

IGN AU: The DS gave developers a set of tools to work with ”“ dual screen, touch screen, microphone and so on, that forced them to come up with new ideas and give us new experiences. The 3DS adds in a three dimensional display, obviously, as well as gyroscopic control, infrared etc., do you think this will lead to even newer concepts?

Shigeru Miyamoto: Well yeah, of course the Nintendo DS interface was very fresh when we first introduced it, and it led to a lot of different ideas working their way into video games, including something as diverse as basically taking book-like style control or viewpoints and implementing that into games. What’s interesting about Nintendo 3DS is it does have additional input features, but it’s also a system that’s particularly suited to taking past gameplay experiences, or the more standard gameplay experience, and bringing it this new, fresh feel with the 3D screen. So I think what’s interesting about it is we’ll see both sides of that. We’ll see the evolving of video games as we’ve seen them up until now, and we’ll also see things that take advantage of the new input.

What’s interesting with ”“ particularly the gyro ”“ is that obviously because of the 3D screen you have a particular sweet spot for where you can see the 3D effect, so most people would think that putting a gyro that would encourage people to tilt the device would ultimately just result in the 3D effect being lost, because you’re tilting it away from you at a different angle, but what’s interesting is that with the gyro you can hold the device in front of you, and do these lateral movements in space like this [moves hands together left and right] and the gyro can detect that, and I think that’ll allow for some pretty interesting gameplay mechanics.

IGN AU: Is there a concern, then, that many developers might take the lazy way out and simply port PS2, Wii games and just make them 3D to get them into the market quickly? And will that tarnish the 3DS’ library?

Shigeru Miyamoto: I think that, depending on the title, there are certain titles from the past that when accompanied with 3D visuals it really can change the feel of the gameplay, and so from that perspective I think that a lot of companies will be looking at what properties they have so that they may be able to take advantage of that, and even we’re looking at that as well, in terms of games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D or Star Fox 64.

IGN AU: Those are great, we’re more concerned about the quick rush-jobs.

Shigeru Miyamoto: I think we just have to rely on the integrity of the developers and the products that they’re making. At the same time, we do think that there will be new ideas, particularly what we’re finding is that with some of the lead developers at key publishing partners, people like Mr Kojima from Konami and Mr Inafune from Capcom. These are individuals who are themselves very excited about developing for the system and are talking about leading development with their main teams, so I do expect that there’s going to be a lot of new content and new ideas coming out of them.

IGN AU: The 3DS’ power seems to exceed that of the Wii in some ways graphically, and it also incorporates the gyroscopes and the motion control. In that way, it’s almost like having a Wii in your hand. From a business standpoint, do you see it as a threat, or do you see it causing a tapering off of Wii sales inadvertently, by introducing this new handheld?

Shigeru Miyamoto: We’re not really worried about it, and primarily it’s because the types of things, the types of play that you can do on a portable device is pretty different from the types of things you’re able to do on a home console, and so it doesn’t really concern us. I guess from a graphical standpoint it is true that the shaders that we’ve implemented into the Nintendo 3DS hardware, from a certain perspective, it can appear as if the graphics are stronger, but they’re really a little bit more in balance I think.

IGN AU: So is it the meeting of the hardcore fans with the casual players that makes this the “key turning point in Zelda history” as it was described at the E3 press conference?

Shigeru Miyamoto: That is kind of an important point for it. We have to find the right balance, in terms of how difficult we make the dungeons and things like that, but that is, I think, a very important part.

I think that once people play this game, then the next time they play a game that uses a sword they’ll feel that any game that doesn’t use motion control for the sword is just not going to work right.

[You can read more of the Q&A at IGN.com]

An artist from New York. Will has been writing, designing, and loving video games since he was young. He has traveled across the United States, and parts of Canada in order to learn more about the world of gaming. After visiting E3 for the first time in 2009, he has vowed to return there and show off a game of his own. In his spare time he tinkers with electronics, programming, and of course collecting video games.