Tuesday’s Nintendo Direct was a much-hyped affair, with a whopping 40 minutes dedicated to the Japanese company’s portable console and its games. Most people kept their expectations somewhat in check for this, because Nintendo said that the event would largely focus on products coming out this holiday season. You can read about what those announcements ended up being here. But that still leaves room for surprises, and when Shigeru Miyamoto pops onto the screen, you get excited.
Miyamoto is legendary, after all. We tend to see him for big-deal stuff, like the announcement of the upcoming animated Mario movie that has a star-studded cast, or for things like the Super Nintendo World theme park. You know, announcements with mainstream appeal or arguable prestige projects.
Miyamoto has also been in the company for long enough that he seems to more or less be able to do whatever he wants, though he still advises on plenty of projects. Lately he’s been focused on theme parks because it makes him feel like he’s doing something new again, and it’s just familiar enough to designing video games to spark excitement.
“Now I’m focusing on the need to continue to find new experiences,” he said in an interview with The New Yorker. “This has always been what interested and excited me about the medium: not perfecting the old but discovering the new.”
But that doesn’t mean Miyamoto is always off doing something big and new. Having Miyamoto’s stature means that he can also put time into passion projects. This is how we arrive at today’s big Nintendo Direct.
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The thing is, even if you weren’t expecting news about, say, a new Nintendo Switch model or BotW 2, for whatever reason, for a brief moment it seemed like Miyamoto had something big to say. He started off remarking that he had a few things to share, “including some news.” Immediately after this, Miyamoto started talking about the Chris Pratt Mario movie and the Super Nintendo World theme park. Except...all he said was that they were still working on the finishing touches for both projects.
When Miyamoto then started talking about the Pikmin mobile game, which has been out for a while, chat started losing its shit. We haven’t seen Miyamoto in some time and this is what he wants to tell the world about? What made it especially funny is that there’s no way Miyamoto isn’t aware of how this might be received. He introduced the segment by telling people the Pikmin series is 20 years old, but the company is “still” working on it. Franchises like Zelda, Metroid, and Super Mario are all older than that, but he would never remind people that Nintendo is still working on them, that would be absurd. Nintendo also routinely revives random franchises, though often in the context of series like Smash Bros. But Pikmin isn’t exactly a popular series, and we already know that there aren’t a ton of people playing Pikmin Bloom, despite having a developer like Niantic behind it.
The silver lining here though is that Miyamoto did indeed have some actual news to share: Pikmin 4 is coming in 2023. The fact the game exists probably isn’t a surprise to anyone, as Miyamoto somehow said that it was “nearing completion” seven entire years ago. Pikmin 3 was released in 2013; just about an entire decade has passed. Shout out to all the fans who have been holding out for this long, though I’m afraid you’re still going to be starving a bit, because the trailer we got today doesn’t really show much. Have you heard about that good Pikmin-like on Game Pass?
While this news will make some people very happy, as I was watching along on Twitch, the chat was in total disbelief throughout Miyamoto’s segment, even as the new game was being shown off. Most people were yelling and decrying the whole thing. And it kind of makes sense: Thanks to the way the Direct was constructed, his appearance almost felt like a fake-out. Everyone started holding their breath for the possibility of maybe hearing Chris Pratt do an Italian accent, and instead they heard about a franchise that has been on life support for years and was never that popular to begin with. “lol,” as the kids say.
For those of us who’ve followed Nintendo for a long time, though, this is classic Miyamoto. The dude has always been a little offbeat, which is exactly what’s equipped him to design some of the most memorable games of all time. That, and Pikmin has always been close to the man’s heart. Back in 2013, Miyamoto said that through his lifetime, he had directed maybe around 50 games and had helped oversee over 100. And out of those games, many of which are industry-defining, Pikmin 3 was one one of his best, he said. The numbers are likely much higher now, over a decade later, but I’m willing to bet that he’d still likely rank Pikmin pretty high up there if he’s keeping the series on life support.