Shigeru Miyamoto is the legendary game creator of the Super Mario franchise, as well as many of Nintendo’s other long-running series, such as Donkey Kong and The Legend of Zelda. In fact, the beloved gaming innovator is so important to the company that they won’t even let him ride a bike to work.
Over the years, as Miyamoto developed more and more popular games, the higher ups at Nintendo realized that much of their future hinged on his ability to create. As Japan is an increasingly busy and compact city, the company knew that if Miyamoto biked to work he could easily be hit by a car. They were unwilling to lose such a cornerstone to the industry and therefore forbade him from riding his bike to work any longer. He was instructed to ride to work in a motor vehicle for his safety1.
Besides being a talented and creative man, Miyamoto has many fascinating quirks and hobbies that make him more interesting than you may have already thought he was. One such hobby is his penchant for estimating the measurement of random objects and then – using a tape measure that he always carries with him2 – checking to see if he was right. He is actually surprisingly adept at the game.
Miyamoto is musically talented as well. He was recently on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon playing the Super Mario Bros. theme song with The Roots. Check it out below:
Needless to say, Miyamoto’s fans were ecstatic about seeing him on Fallon:
Shigeru Miyamoto playing the Super Mario theme song with the Roots is the greatest thing ever
— Alika Lausanne I (@alick36) December 9, 2016
There are also many fascinating Miyamoto stories surrounding the creation of his games. For instance, he had a strong desire for Mario to ride a dinosaur ever since the character’s outing in the original Super Mario Bros. He would eventually get his wish, but it took six years and the technology of the Super Nintendo system to make it happen. Super Mario World presented gamers with the first appearance of Yoshi, and he’s been a staple of the series ever since.
One of his other legendary franchises, The Legend of Zelda, is based on his own adventures as a child, wandering the countryside and exploring forests and caves. Additionally, he named Princess Zelda after Zelda Fitzgerald (F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife) because she had a “pleasant and significant” name.
In regards to Donkey Kong, Miyamoto misunderstood the meaning of the word “donkey” in English and thought that naming the character Donkey Kong would make Americans think “stupid ape.” Nintendo of America was amused by the thought but ultimately kept the name.
As for Miyamoto’s most well-known creation, Mario’s iconic hat is not a fashion statement. It turns out that Super Mario’s creator wasn’t good at drawing hair. The hat was merely a hair concealer that actually worked out as a happy accident.