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'Mario' creator Shigeru Miyamoto on the launch of Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywoo

Shigeru Miyamoto, representative director and fellow at Nintendo Co., Ltd., poses at the Super Nintendo World grand opening press event, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, at Universal Studios Hollywood in Universal City, Calif. (Chris Pizzello/AP)
Shigeru Miyamoto, representative director and fellow at Nintendo Co., Ltd., poses at the Super Nintendo World grand opening press event, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, at Universal Studios Hollywood in Universal City, Calif. (Chris Pizzello/AP)

Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood opens Friday.

The new theme park celebrates nearly four decades of Mario games and characters ahead of the upcoming “Super Mario Bros. Movie.” It features novelty meals, costumed performers and an augmented-reality Mario Kart ride.

Costumed performers depicting Luigi and Mario at Super Nintendo World. (Courtesy of Nintendo/Universal Studios)

NPR’s A Martinez got to tour the park early and interview the man who made it possible: Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto, designer and creator of the “Mario,” “Donkey Kong” and “Zelda” franchises.

“When we’re talking about theme parks, it really is being able to experience the theme park through your whole body through it being an immersive experience,” said Miyamoto, speaking through an interpreter. “The kind of added key element into all of this is the interactivity, both as a game and from theme parks. So in that sense, I think our collaboration went very smoothly.”

3 questions for Shigeru Miyamoto

How do you make games approachable enough that anyone could play them?

“That is a very important concept as we’re making games. The core mechanism that goes into the game is actually very simple and pure. And really after that, it’s about understanding what the player would want. I feel like really distilling it down to that helps then the player use their imagination to kind of have their play experience even grow even more.

“When it comes down to interactivity and games, it’s really the fact that pushing down a stick on a controller makes the character on screen move. That kind of direct interaction between your action and the action that you’re seeing is what makes games fun. And so we say Super Mario, but it’s really the fact that going pushing left makes Mario go left, pushing right makes Mario go right. That core essence is something that we try not to forget as we’re embarking on any kind of creative endeavor.”

How did Mario become such a recognizable character?

“There was a time when people might have compared Mario with Mickey Mouse. I really felt like Mickey Mouse as a character grew alongside the medium of animation. And in that same vein, I feel that Mario is growing alongside this digital medium.

“For example, in the history of Nintendo, for every kind of new hardware we put out, there’s been at least one Mario game that we put out. And in that same vein, you know, this new park and the AR technology that’s used in this park, really is, I think, yet another proper evolution that Mario has gone through. And I hope that this becomes even more available and that he’s able to hang out in more people’s hearts.”

Which world of your own creation would you want to spend eternity in?

“[Laughs] So I really love the work environment that I’m in because I get to engage in so many different things. So it’d be great, if I could be in an environment where I can change the kind of work I do all the time. So I think it might just be my desk or my bathtub.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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