This Nintendo Franchise Doesn’t Sell, And Miyamoto Has A Theory

Pikmin 4 is out tomorrow, July 21, and from the sound of it, the Switch game is pretty dope. Despite this, the series has only had four mainline games since the first entry launched on the GameCube in 2001. The games don’t perform as well as other first-party Nintendo games, with the best-selling entry, Pikmin 3 Deluxe, selling a little over two million copies, compared to say, Super Mario Odyssey’s 25.76 million units. Why is this? Well, series creator and Nintendo big wig Shigeru Miyamoto has a few theories.

In an interview from Nintendo’s “Ask A Developer” series, Miyamoto t noted to other company developers that he’s always wondered why the series hasn’t “exploded more in sales” despite so many people enjoying them. Then, he considered whether it’s because the real-time strategy series might be too difficult for some players. However, the interviewer also proposed that Pikmin might be emotionally fraught for some players as the titular little plant guys you throw at your problems in these games die frequently and in droves. Though Miyamoto concedes this is part of the stakes that make Pikmin appealing in the first place.

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“I get that people find it more difficult when death is a factor,” Miyamoto said. “But I think the franchise’s strength lies in its relationship with mortality. If something is irreversible, you need to figure out a way to prevent undesired things from happening. To try to prevent Pikmin from dying, you need to practice ‘Dandori’ (a Japanese term that means ‘to think about planning and efficiency in advance to get things done smoothly’). To me, that’s what makes this game unique. I think people find Pikmin difficult for two reasons: the controls and the depth of gameplay. I spent a long time mulling over how we could convey these points as ‘interesting’ rather than ‘difficult.’”

Despite this concern, Nintendo isn’t considering watering down the experience for Pikmin 4. Miyamoto said that the series while the series isiterative, Nintendo always tries to maintain what made the first game compelling.

“We were talking about how we want as many people as possible to play Pikmin 4, but if it’s not Pikmin-like enough, we won’t meet the expectations of those who’ve enjoyed the series until now,” he said “The first game provided a deeper challenge, while the second game was broader in terms of content, and we went back to something closer to the first one in Pikmin 3. But after thinking about it, I realized that we could do both. We could retain the depth of gameplay that makes Pikmin so interesting, while providing the functional support to address the challenges around controls.”

Outside of the main games, Niantic also released a mobile AR game called Pikmin Bloom, which the company is still supporting even after its recent layoffs.

Miyamoto Did Not Love Elephant Mario At First Sight

The next mainline 2D Mario game, Super Mario Bros. Wonder, looks fantastic, shaking up the franchise’s formula with new powers, worlds, and enemies. In particular, one new power that turns Mario into an elephant became quite popular online. However, at first Mario’s creator Shigeru Miyamoto, wasn’t a fan of the odd transformation.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder, out later this October on Nintendo Switch, looks, well…wonderful! The game features a new, revamped art style that looks 10x better than the New Super Mario Bros. games’, and is filled with new ideas and gameplay mechanics, including Elden Ring-like multiplayer features and a huge roster of playable heroes: Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Blue Toad, Yellow Toad, Toadette, and Nabbit. But perhaps the most talked-about new additions to the Mario formula are the new power-ups, including one that turns Nintendo’s plumber into a large pachyderm. Apparently Miyamoto had some…thoughts about Elephant Mario during development.

In an August 31 interview with IGN, Super Mario Bros. Wonder director Shiro Mouri and producer Takashi Tezuka explained that during production of the game, Miyamoto did provide feedback and notes, but he wasn’t in their “hip pocket” all the time “whispering” in their ears.

“Sometimes he would come by where we are working and look at things and give some opinions,” said Tezuka. “He would generally observe things and make comments here and there.”

Miyamoto had some notes on Elephant Mario

However, according to Mouri, Miyamoto did have a problem with Elephant Mario, at first.

“It was a phase where we still had tentative visuals for Elephant Mario, and we had plans to adjust the visuals already,” said Mouri. “But he had come and taken a look before that and he gave us the sharp comment that ‘This doesn’t look like a Mario character.’”


According to Mouri, Mario’s dad also took issue with how Elephant Mario sprays water from his trunk, saying that “if an elephant was actually spraying water, it wouldn’t move that way.”

I like to imagine that Miyamoto comes home and spends hours watching elephants in the wild via documentaries and old videos on the internet, closely studying their moves. And finally, all that hard work paid off. Good for him.

Where did the idea for Elephant Mario come from?

In a separate Thursday interview with Wired, Mouri and Tezuka explained that the idea for Elephant Mario came from the desire to create a power-up for the famous plumber that would make him big and able to shoot water. Elephant was the natural choice.

However, when they wanted to let Mario dig underground, they didn’t go with a “mole Mario,” as they wanted him to be able to also take out enemies above him. So naturally they did what anyone else would in that scenario, and slapped a working drill on Mario’s head. I can only assume what Miyamoto thought about that.

Tezuka also pushed back on the idea that Mario games can’t change or evolve, telling Wired he asks his team to come up with wild ideas and not to worry about rules or limits.

“I do think people have ideas that Mario [games have] to be a certain way. There are certain limitations that people have in their own brains,” Tezuka said. “If you think it looks cool, it’s going to be fun. Do it.”

Super Mario Bros. Wonder—and all of its wild power-ups—launches on October 20 on Nintendo Switch.


Shigeru Miyamoto Reveals Mario Voice Actor Called Him ‘Papa’

After it was announced that legendary voice actor Charles Martinet would no longer portray Mario in future Nintendo games (starting with October 20’s Super Mario Bros. Wonder) but would become a “Mario Ambassador,” fans were confused. What is a Mario Ambassador? Why isn’t Martinet voicing the Italian-American plumber anymore? Now, Nintendo and Martinet have tried clearing the air with a cute video, but the results are somehow more confusing.

Read More: Not Even Charles Martinet Knows What A ‘Mario Ambassador’ Is

In a video posted to X (formerly Twitter), Martinet and game director Shigeru Miyamoto briefly talk about their past together and their friendship. We learn that Martinet used to call Miyamoto “Papa!” in his signature Mario voice, and that he also nearly banged his head walking into a Kyoto restaurant because he’s reportedly 6-foot 3-inches tall. The short video isn’t just cutesy personal anecdotes, however, as it tries to provide some clarification of just what Martinet’s new role as “Mario Ambassador” is. It still sounds vague, though.

“You traveled the world visiting events, joyfully performing the voice of Mario for fans, and putting smiles on people’s faces,” Miyamoto said of Martinet. “You always place a priority on spreading joy, and I am sure that you will be a great Mario Ambassador. For all of you watching, please know that Charles will continue to travel around the world and meet fans, performing the familiar voices at events, signing autographs, and enjoying interacting with you all.”

We still don’t know who will voice Mario going forward, as Miyamoto said to wait until October to see who’s portraying the mustachioed plumber in the upcoming platformer Wonder, or why Martinent is no longer voicing the character after almost 30 years, but will still be “performing the familiar voices” at fan events. It certainly seems like Nintendo is aware of just how iconic Martinet as Mario is, and wants to hold onto that magic in any way possible–just not by casting Martinet in future Mario games.

Read More: Longtime Mario Voice Actor Charles Martinet ‘Stepping Back’ From Role

We don’t have long to figure out who the hell is portraying Mario now, since Super Mario Bros. Wonder comes out on October 20. October is a crammed month for video games, but for Mario fans, it’ll also be one of both nostalgia and reinvention as the franchise goes in a new gameplay direction with a new voice actor at the helm, whoever that may be.


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