E3: Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto talks bringing 'The Legend of Zelda' to the Wii U

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Image Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Wii U may not have made as big an impact as Nintendo would have hoped, but the company remains the big kahuna in the videogame world, and there is no bigger name in the world of Nintendo than Shigeru Miyamoto, a.k.a. The Man Who Created Mario and Zelda. While Miyamoto was at E3 this year to show off the latest game from his other franchise, Pikmin 3, we could not help but ask him about the possibility of a new The Legend of Zelda title for this system, as well as what potential he sees in the Wii U for attracting hardcore gamers. Check out what he had to say (through a translator) below: 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How long have you been in development on Pikmin 3 for the Wii U?
SHIGERU MIYAMOTO: Well Pikmin 3 itself I’ve been working on with a very, very small team for going on about five years now doing a variety of experiments, but as far as Pikmin 3 on Wii U we started that a little bit less than two years ago.

What was it about the Wii U that made you realize that you wanted to make sure that Pikmin 3 came out on the Wii U and not the Wii? 
It’s primarily because the processing power advanced. Pikmin is a real-time strategy game, a game where you want to have a broad view of the world so that you can figure out your strategies. Previously when the camera was pulled out that far, you couldn’t see the individual movements of the Pikmin, and that always was something that caused stress for me because I really want people to be able to see the characters. So when we knew that we were going to do the HD system [on the] Wii U, we wanted to make sure to take advantage of the HD functionality because with that and even with the pulled out camera you can still see the detailed characteristics of the individual Pikmin.

We know there’s a new Mario game coming for the Wii U, New Super Mario Bros. U. Last year when the Wii U was first introduced, a standalone Zelda battle scene was created to showcase the system’s high-definition graphics. What about the Wii U intrigues you for what you could do in a Zelda game?
Obviously we stared that experiment last year and used that to sort of showcase some of the HD visuals. And obviously when you look at that, you do get a positive reaction to how simply having the HD visuals in a Zelda game can really make the game look wonderful and give it sort of a high-quality feel. But one thing that’s interesting is we’re seeing how the way that tastes are broadening in video games and you have some people who prefer more casual experiences, and you have some people who prefer sort of those more in-depth experiences. Obviously, as a company that’s been making games for a very long time, we tend to be more on the deeper, longer game side of things. But really what we continue to ask ourselves as we have over the years is, “What is the most important element of Zelda if we were to try to make a Zelda game that a lot of people can play?” So we have a number of different experiments going on, and [when] we decide that we’ve found the right one of those to really help bring Zelda to a very big audience, then we’ll be happy to announce it.

So you’re sort of in the R&D stage?
Yeah. With the last game, Skyward Sword, that was a game where you had motion control to use your weapons and a lot of different items, and I thought that was a lot of fun, but there were some people who weren’t able to do that or didn’t like it as much and stopped playing partway through it. So we’re in the phase where we’re looking back at what’s worked very well and what has been missing and how can we evolve it further.

I do think of some other Zelda games where you’d play a song or something and a screen would come up and you’d have to match a certain pattern within the song to advance in the game. It seems like the touchscreen on the GamePad does sort of offer interesting ways of incorporating that element of the Zelda experience into a Wii U game.
Maybe I’ll take that idea. [Laughs]

One of the things that is very clear with the way that Nintendo has been presenting the Wii U is that there’s a renewed investment in third-party publishers and getting more hardcore gamers to play on a Nintendo system. What are you most looking forward to seeing within that effort?
So the thing that we’ve tried to talk about at E3, and this is something that we’ve tried to do with the original Wii hardware, was we wanted games to grow beyond the framework that they’ve been limited by up until now. We tried to do this with Wii, and we were able to do it in some ways, but we weren’t able to do it in other ways. And with Wii U, what we determined was in order for games to grow in new ways, they can’t be totally dependent on the TV anymore, and that’s why we’ve added this additional screen. And as I mentioned today, my goal is that this is the screen that people will go to when they first come into the living room. What I mean by that is that this will become sort of their entry point for whatever content it is they’re experiencing on the TV, whether it’s social, whether it’s TV, whether it’s something like a YouTube video, and, of course, whether it’s games. The goal is that we want the Wii U system to be something that the entire family engages with, [so] it needs to have something for every individual in the family. And so of course in a system like this, it’s important to have games that the core gamer will play. It’s important to have games that the family will play together. It’s important to have kind of unique independent ideas as well. So to me, the message is really that this is a system that no matter what your interests — be assured that there will be something for you. And I think that’s what we’re trying to tell people this week.

Entertainment Weekly is a pop-culture publication, and I’m wondering what outside of the gaming world in the world of pop culture — of movies, television, music, books — is most exciting you right now?
I’ve actually been watching a lot of Japanese TV shows lately, TV dramas. There’s been a period where Japanese television wasn’t very interesting, but what we’ve seen over the last few years is there’s been quite a bit of Japanese television taking Japanese manga and bringing them into a television series or a movie. The idea that you have this one manga artist or manga writer who’s working alone and is sort of creating whatever it is that they want to create and then being able to see that come from those manga pages into TV or a movie has been pretty interesting.

I ask because most people when they take a break from their lives, they often do it by playing a game, so I’m wondering because you live games, what do you do to take a break from them?
Mostly I just practice my guitar. [Laughs] I’ll listen to music, and if I hear an interesting phrase being performed, then I immediately start thinking, “Oh man, I wonder how they did that.” So I’ll immediately grab my guitar, and sometimes I’ll even get my Nintendo 3DS and record it and then adjust the speed and slow it down and try to figure out maybe how they did that. I’m not the kind of person that can pick up and play an electric guitar with all sorts of effects on it, so I get down to the stripped down sound of the guitar and try to have fun figuring out those melodies.

Sounds like that might be a game at some point.
Wii Music 2? [Laughs] I don’t know!

Read more:
Shigeru Miyamoto talks ‘Legend of Zelda’ and his favorite ‘Mariokart’ character
E3 2011: Shigeru Miyamoto on whether we’ll ever see another Mario movie
E3 Snap Judgment: ‘Nintendo Land’ is a mixed bag for the Wii U

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