Nintendo and Apple are working closely together, for the first time in memory, to launch a new game called “Super Mario Run” that’s coming out for the iPhone later this week.
So Mario inventor and Nintendo senior executive Shigeru Miyamoto has been doing a lot of publicity for Mario’s first mobile game lately.
In one recent interview with Glixel, he gives an outsider’s perspective on Apple, and underscores what fan boys have known for years: the quirky game maker from Japan and the secretive computer maker from California actually have a lot in common.
He talks about what Apple and Nintendo have in common:
Probably the that easiest thing to point to is the fact that Apple, like Nintendo, is a company that thinks about how people will use their products. We design things to be usable by a very broad range of people. They put a lot of effort into the interface and making the product simple to use, and that’s very consistent with Nintendo. I think Apple also likes to do things differently and take a different approach.
What the Macintosh and the Super NES have in common:
In the early days when computers were very complicated things, computer companies were purposely presenting them in ways that made them seem very complicated. Then you had Apple who came along with their very simple and colourful logo and it all had more of a fun feel to it.
Actually, this reminds me that with the Super NES controller we put the multicolored buttons on the face of the controller, and then the US office decided not to keep that. I told that story to Apple, and how I liked the use of colour in their old logo. That was like a bridge that had been built between us.
Although Super Mario Run will be on Android eventually, Miyamoto talks about why it partnered with Apple first:
Part of the reason we took it to Apple was that in order for us to have the performance we wanted we needed some development support to ensure that the game would run the way we expected. Because Nintendo is always trying to do something unique we also wanted to try and do something different on the business side too. We really didn’t want to do something in the free to play space, but in order to make sure we had the opportunity to do what we wanted [offer a taste of the game for free, and charge $9.99 to unlock the whole thing], we had to talk to the people who are actually running the shop. Naturally the people on the App Store initially told us that the free-to-play approach is a good one, but I’ve always had this image that Apple and Nintendo have very similar philosophies. As we started working together, I found that to be true and they became very welcoming of trying something new.
At one point, Miyamoto seems to be channeling Apple design head Jony Ive:
I’m a designer. I don’t think of myself as creating works, I really think of myself as creating products for people to enjoy. That’s why I’ve always called my games products rather than works of art. It’s not about coming up with an idea and trying to make that idea, the work of a planner is to work within the constraints of what you’re given and make the best possible thing you can.
The entire interview with Miyamoto at Glixel is definitely worth a read — he talks about how involved he is with new Nintendo products, the rumours that he’s essentially retired, and his game design workflow.