Shigeru Miyamoto - Creator of Mario, Donkey Kong, and Zelda

Shigeru Miyamoto


Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

Upon the news of Shigeru Miyamoto announcing his intended retirement from big tent-pole games, Nintendo quickly scrambled together a press release explaining that Miyamoto will "continue to be a driving force in Nintendo's development efforts" and remain on with the company. However, in an interview with, Miyamoto himself says "What I really want to do is be in the forefront of game development once again myself".

Shigeru Miyamoto and Nintendo

Since he conceived and designed Donkey Kong in 1981, Miyamoto has been one of the most prominent and celebrated game designers and producers of all time, following up Donkey Kong with Super Mario Bros., the Legend of Zelda and over a hundred others, nearly all of which have been major hits for Nintendo.

Miyamoto himself is as valuable an asset to Nintendo as their flagship character Mario. Having joined the company in 1979 soon after obtaining his Industrial Arts degree, Miyamoto originally started out assisting on Nintendo's early arcade games such as Sheriff and Space Firebird, but got his big break at the company when Nintendo's then-president Hiroshi Yamauchi (Grandson of the company's founder Fusajiro Yamauchi), assigned the young Miyamoto to come up with a new game that they could switch out with a surplus of arcade cabinets for their failed game Radar Scope.

The game Miyamoto came up with ended up being Donkey Kong and put Nintendo on the map as a major player in the video arcade business.

Miyamoto followed it up with a string of coin-op video arcade hits, such as Donkey Kong Junior, Popeye. and Mario Bros. Then after the crash of the video game industry in 1983, he helped resurrect the market by reinventing the platform genre on the Nintendo Entertainment System with Super Mario Bros., then continued to make history with The Legend of Zelda, Kid Icarus, and Earthbound.

With every generation of Nintendo game console Miyamoto was at the forefront, delivering major hits that would drive sales of the system. From Super Mario Kart and Star Fox for the SNES, to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Smash Bros., and Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64, and experimenting with different genres by trying his hand at survival horror with Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem and the sci-fi epic Metroid Prime for the GameCube.

However, each subsequent title was more elaborate than the one before it, requiring longer production timelines and bigger teams to manage. This along with numerous titles being developed in tandem, Miyamoto was forced to focus less on creating the game designs himself and serve mainly as a supervisor and general producer.

Now the 59-year-old legend seeks to go back to his retro gaming roots where a game idea could be conceived and developed in the same year, making it yourself or working with small teams instead of the 30 to 100+ members that most modern AAA Next-Gen titles require.

Many gamers today are either discovering or re-experiencing many of Miyamoto's greatest games thanks to the Wii Virtual Console. Now with Nintendo's other downloadable game portals for their next-gen console and handheld systems, such as WiiWare and Nintendo's E-Shop, new games with smaller scope focusing on great gameplay are possible once again.

Miyamoto is seeing the opportunity embrace the type of work he used to love, and fans can't wait to see what he has in store, because every game he touches is guaranteed to become a classic.