Miyamato Magic

By: Steve Dixon

Shigeru Miyamoto. Two words that cause every serious gamer to salute.
First it was Donkey Kong, then it was Super Mario Brothers, and since
then, he has created at least 30 more hits. Among them, Star Fox, Mario
Kart, Super Mario 2-3-World-RPG-64, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island,
Wave Race 64, F-Zero, F-Zero 2 (sadly never released in the U.S.),
F-Zero X, Pilotwings, Star Fox 64, Mario Kart 64 and Pilotwings 64,
all of which continued their respective series over to a new system.
But the most notable game he ever developed was The Legend of Zelda.
An experiment to see if you could create an entire game based in one
room, Zelda wasn't much. A nice graphics engine and decent control
were the games biggest sellers. Nobody really cared much for the game
at first, but then, something clicked. People began to become addicted,
always wanting to beat one more boss, find one more key, solve one more
puzzle. Then, once they had found all the items, solved all the puzzles,
beaten all the bosses, and retrieved all the pieces of Triforce, Zelda
kindly asks them to try another quest, this time with harder puzzles,
more enemies, and even cooler bosses. Who could resist a challenge like
that? Last summer, Nintendo Power deemed it the 11th greatest game of
all time, this is out of a field of over 1700 games available for
Nintendo systems, and people were upset over it! All of my friends
said it should have gotten at least second. That would have been
impossible, though, because that spot was occupied by Zelda: A Link to
the Past! In the #12 spot, the fourth game in the series, Link's Awakening.
In the #36 spot, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. The eight games
in the series have sold a total of 13,000,000 units. That stat includes
The Wand of Gamelon, The Faces of Evil, and another game, the title of
which I have not found. Those three games were released for the Phillips
CD-I, due to an agreement with Nintendo gone bad. Nintendo had proposed
a CD add-on for the SNES, and Phillips and Sony both developed systems.
Nintendo signed a deal with Phillips, leaving a bad taste in Sony's
mouth. Nintendo later decided not to create the CD add on, but a line
in the Phillips-Nintendo contract gave Phillips a loophole to make games
starring Nintendo characters. They did just that, making three Zelda games,
as well as a Mario game, for their new system, the CD-I. At the same time,
Sony, who Nintendo had turned their back on, started developing a system
of their own. Based on the SNES-CD design, their new system, under the
working title "PSX" would almost destroy Nintendo a couple years later.
Nintendo's Project:Reality, the code name for the Nintendo Ultra 64,
was just getting under way when Sony released the Playstation. 32 bit
graphics, CD quality sound, and unparalleled speed left the SNES
gasping for breath. Nintendo's dynasty was beginning to crumble. Nintendo
was already taking heat from the powerful - not to mention established -
Genesis, and the last thing the needed was a new system, much less a far
more powerful system, taking away more sales. But after numerous delays
and countless setbacks, the N64 was released. By this time, there were
already 5 million Playstation in households around the U.S. Mario 64,
Wave Race, Star Fox and Mario Kart got gamer's attention, but Sony
already had the upper hand. They needed something big. Something really
big. Enter Miyamoto. Nov. 23, 1998. Nintendo drops a gold colored bombshell
on Sony. Zelda 64. A new game with state of the art graphics, a beautiful
soundtrack, flawless play control, and more of the adventure gamers had
craved since the last new Zelda was released in 1993. The game pre-sold
over 500,000 copies, including 100,000 the last week of pre-ordering.
Nintendo's web page, Zelda64.com, is getting over 5000 hits a day, from
players all over the world who managed to set down the controller long
enough to connect. Zelda action figures are almost as popular as that
Furby fellow, and more products are bound to come. As characters such
as Lara Croft, Crash Bandicoot, Sonic the Hedgehog all center around
what's happening in Pop-Culture, it's nice to know that there is still
room for, as Nintendo once put it, A little short green guy with a sword.