July 3, 2012 Update: No offense, Mr. Miyamoto, you had a solid E3. But Ubisoft had a great one, and so their boss' surge is pushing you and a lot of the people near you on the list down.

Feb 20, 2012 Update: We admit it. We put him too low last month. Miyamoto's genius has still been absent from the public eye—and will probably continue to be until E3. So while Nintendo's 3DS hardware may be finally selling at decent rates, and Miyamoto may well still be exerting much influence over the hardware and software designers of the 3DS and forthcoming Wii U, until we see some of the fruits of that labor, the power he exhibits right now will continue to be, in our eyes, mid-list-level.

Why He's Powerful

He is, with little argument, the most creatively successful and influential video game designer of all time.


The inventor of Donkey Kong, the chief architect of Mario and Zelda's first adventures, he has been a creator with a golden touch, maintaining his relevance and design genius despite generational changes in taste, the rise and fall and rise of his own company and the inevitable effects of age that can dampen one's spirit or corrode skills wielded better by younger minds.

With the possible exception of Rockstar's Houser brothers, he is the only game designer whose departure from a game company could shake both its fans and its shareholders. (In fact, we already got a test-run of that when a December 2011 report of Miyamoto's "retirement"—later refuted by Nintendo—cut Nintendo's stock by 2%.)

There's a major "but" to all this: Shigeru Miyamoto, a good showman every year, hasn't unveiled a hit of the high caliber he's renowned for, since 2008's Wii Fit. This is partially because it his lieutenants running the Zeldas or 3D Marios occasionally get the spotlight they've long deserved. But as Nintendo shifts from the highs of the Wii years to the skepticism of the emerging 3DS and the forthcoming Wii U, the question to ask will be: Does Miyamoto still have it? The direction of that answer is the weather vane for Nintendo's future.