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He created Donkey Kong, Mario and The Legend of Zelda, and decades later, demonstrating that his creative influence in the video game world was by no means on the wane, he helped develop the groundbreaking Nintendo Wii. Now, Shigeru Miyamoto has made his first foray into film.
Unveiled at the Tokyo International Film Festival last weekend, Miyamoto’s directorial debut is comprised of three 3D animated shorts, titled Pikmin Short Movies, which follow the Nintendo game characters of the same name.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Tokyo, Miyamoto, smiley and energetic at 61 years old, said he hasn’t always been satisfied with how his iconic game characters have been adapted into other mediums.
“About 30 years ago our American subsidiary gave away a lot of licenses, which were used for film and TV in various ways [a film adaptation of Super Mario Bros. starring John Leguizamo and Bob Hoskins as the pipe-fitting brothers tanked upon its release in 1993], and we’ve had them stop doing that now,” he said. “The characters from Nintendo are recognizable by everyone, and I like the idea of being involved in how they are portrayed.”
The first installment of the Pikmin game franchise was released in 2001 and the latest, Pikmin 3, came out last year. The series follows the adventures of an astronaut named Captain Olimar who is marooned on a faraway planet inhabited by a race of colorful beings that seem to be equal parts plant and animal. Miyamoto began working on the shorts at around the time Pikmin 3 was being developed for the Wii U.
“There were people who approached me in the past about making a movie,” Miyamoto said. “When Pikmin 3 was released, I thought the timing was right to try making a sort of animation pilot for the game.”
The three shorts that make up Miyamoto’s 23-minute omnibus screened in Tokyo are titled The Night Juicer, Treasures in a Bottle and Occupational Hazards. Reviewers have suggested the shorts contain all the cheer and buoyancy of a vintage Miyamoto game. The director said he hoped the films would further illuminate the nature of the Pikmin characters for fans of the franchise. No distribution plans for the shorts have been announced, but it’s rumored that Miyamoto has made dozens more.
The game design legend said he has no intention of permanently giving up his day job for the director’s chair, because the interactive element offered by gaming — missing from film — is the creative feature he finds most stimulating.
“For me, interactivity is the most important — so that the person who is playing is the creator, in some sense” he said. “I try to help them get to that point where they feel they’ve made something unique within the game, which only they could have made.”
He added: “Of course the technology is always changing, but providing someone with the opportunity to come into contact with a new experience, that’s everything to me.”
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