Super Mario Run launches next week and is perhaps Nintendo's most significant play in the smartphone arena yet, placing the world-famous mascot in an entirely new style of game. The potential audience for this title is mind-boggling when you take into account the sheer size of the smartphone market, and Shigeru Miyamoto feels that these new players could influence the direction that Mario takes in future titles.
Speaking with The Verge, Miyamoto referred to Super Mario Run as an "entry point" for new players:
Super Mario Run is going to introduce millions of more people to the fun of Mario, and it'll become the entry point for them and then the question becomes, once you've gone through that entry point, then what comes next? Is it a more traditional Mario experience? Is it something like the Mario Galaxy games? We'll then have to look at what it is these new fans want from a Mario game, and we'll continue to see Mario evolve in that way.
Keeping on the topic of Mario Run, Miyamoto explained that the simple control experiments which took place on the Wii directly led to the creation of this new smartphone title:
As we were doing those Wii experiments, we thought that that kind of approach would perhaps best be suited to iPhone. So that became the basis for Super Mario Run. Nintendo has been making Mario games for a long time, and the longer you continue to make a series, the more complex the gameplay becomes, and the harder it becomes for new players to be able to get into the series. We felt that by having this simple tap interaction to make Mario jump, we'd be able to make a game that the broadest audience of people could play.
Miyamoto also spoke about Nintendo's other smartphone ventures, including the insanely popular Pokémon GO, which it was involved in via its part-ownership of The Pokémon Company. While Miyamoto states that it was always Nintendo's intention to grow its audience via mobile, the success of Niantic's game has taken the company by surprise:
Certainly when we first embarked on our mobile strategy, a key element for us was the idea of bringing our characters and [intellectual property] to a much broader audience, but I think we were surprised by the impact that [Pokémon Go] has had in terms of bringing that audience back to our own games.
We already know that Nintendo has Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem mobile games on the way, and Miyamoto claims that these titles are intended to grow the potential audience which will then - hopefully - invest in the next console-based edition of each title:
We have Super Mario Run releasing now, and it's already decided that we'll be making a Mario game for our next system and similarly with Animal Crossing, the hope is that when we release the Animal Crossing mobile game, we'll have more people who become familiar with the Animal Crossing world and characters, so that when we next release an Animal Crossing game we'll have a much larger audience who will be interested.
Finally, the legendary game designer spoke about the Wii U's legacy. The console has been one of Nintendo's worst-performing from a purely commercial perspective, yet it is home to some of the best games of the past decade and Miyamoto thinks that it will be looked upon in a positive light in the future:
I hope people will continue to recognize the areas where Nintendo has taken that first step and hopefully someday people will look back on the Wii U and think 'Oh wow, I remember when Nintendo did that, and now look at what's come of that.'
If you're looking forward to Super Mario Run then make sure you check out our hands-on impressions.