Ancient Miyamoto Interview Talks Music, Weird Donkey Kong Games

Shigeru Miyamoto smiles as he stands in front of a green hedge covered in squares.

Photo: Rodin Eckenroth (Getty Images)

A newly translated interview from 1986 between Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto and Namco’s Masanobu Endo reveals some nice details about the games the two designers were playing at the time, what music Miyamoto was into, and his hopes for Mario’s future.

A little background on these two before we jump into the fun. Shigeru Miyamoto has been with Nintendo since the 70s and is responsible for inventing famous characters such as Mario and Donkey Kong. The creator of franchising likes The Legend of Zelda and Pikmin, he has helped shape the look of countless iconic games. Meanwhile, Masanobu Endo was a developer and designer at Namco. While working there, he helped develop the incredibly influential arcade games Xevious and The tower in Druaga. In 1985 he was to create its own game studio and continued to work with Namco on various Magic and Druaga ports and original projects such as Nintendo DS’ The okamide. At the time of the interview, Miyamoto was less experienced in the industry than Endo.

This old interview was recently translated by Collections, who believe it is now the oldest verified Miyamoto interview online. Since describes himself as a “repository” of old Japanese game developer translated interviews and yesterday posted this wonderful conversation between Miyamoto and Endo from the February 1986 issue of Family magazine.

NintendoComplete / Nintendo

Right out of the gate, Miyamoto and Endo spend some time talking about how great it is Donkey Kong Jr. Math is, with Endo admitting that even though it’s “a bit old now”, he’ll always play it. Miyamoto then seems to agree, adding that while it’s a “simple game”, it can become much more with others.

“It’s going to be a really good time when you play it with two players,” Miyamoto said. “It’s very popular with Nintendo employees as well.”

If you have played Donkey Kong Jr. Maththeir feelings may surprise you.

Miyamoto’s love of American Bluegrass music

Later in the interview, Miyamoto talks about how people who want to be game designers or directors have to be curious. Furthermore, he says that they have to try a “lot of things”, and then he casually drops this nugget:

“In the past, when I had free time, I would go to pachinko or play live music. I love this genre called bluegrass, it’s like American Enka or something.”

It’s a wild piece of trivia that you can probably use to win some games with friends. But even better is Endo’s response, with the Namco designer responding to Miyamoto with, “Wow, that’s cool. It’s really amazing.” Yes, I agree Endo. Very good.

Interesting to note that Miyamoto mentions in this interview that he had a wish that “Mario would continue to get used to Nintendo games.” And I think that wish definitely came true, since in 2023 we will not only still get new ones Mario game, but get ready for a big-budget Hollywood animated film starring the likes of Chris Pratt and Jack Black. So, yeah, I think his wish for Mario to continue to “get used” by Nintendo came true.

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