CN: These days, do you think you're more intense, or more chilled out as a boss?
SM: I don't think I've changed much. I'm pretty tough, but I'm tough on the product, not the people. Because we're always preparing with the customer in mind it's a matter of being tough so we meet that expectation.
In particular, we spend two, maybe three years making a game. If you spend all that time and people aren't satisfied with it, then all that time you spent on it has been wasted. That's why I'm strict when it comes to final quality. That's where I'm toughest.
CN: And that always shows. A good example is Luigi's Mansion 2, which got pushed back but was ultimately amazing. Speaking of which, western studios are now taking responsibility for some of your biggest franchises. That level of trust didn't exist before. Why do you think that has changed in recent years?
SM: I think the biggest factor is that level of trust that you mentioned. We built the level of trust with those companies and we know we can rely on them. The second thing is a change in our approach. Once we would have looked at them and asked what a company can do independently and we would support them as needed.
Whereas now we're looking at really working together. Particularly with Luigi's Mansion 2, Nintendo is the producer of that game. We call them second-party developers where they're developing the game but we're producing it and that's where that level of trust is built.
CN: With that in mind, how do you decide what games these developers will work on? For example, how did you decide that Retro Studios would work on Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze rather than anything else?
SM: Retro is a very capable studio and can design a lot of different types of game and I know that because I produced Metroid Prime. But when it did Donkey Kong Country Returns on Wii, apparently it had a lot of fun making that title and from what I've heard it put in a request and said that it wanted to do a new Donkey Kong Country game on Wii U themselves.
In particular the company built up quite a lot of knowhow in that specific style of gameplay and as a consequence felt that it could leverage that again in creating something new in that same style for Wii U.
I think Retro has really come to a point at which it's possible for it to have multiple lines running at the same time and having different projects in development. I totally think there are possibilities to see different projects from Retro in the future.
CN: One of those could be a Metroid game. Do you consider the Metroid Prime series to be a success? Would you like to see another Metroid Prime-style game?
SM: Certainly the Metroid franchise is one that, when you talk about really bringing the world to life, we feel that Metroid and the characters established are really important for Nintendo. So important that they were included, obviously, in Nintendo Land. I definitely think it's a franchise that we value and we certainly want to see what we can do with it in the future. And, obviously, Retro is a very high priority in terms of the potential team that would be considered for working on a Metroid game.
CN: There are many Nintendo franchises all liked by different people - we'd love to see Star Fox and 1080 come back ourselves. How do you pick which franchise to revise for which console?
SM: There are franchises where you would want to put in time and the energy because if you don't spend enough time and energy on it, it could impact the value of the franchise and the popularity of the franchise. Certainly, with something like Star Fox, we've released additional games in the series. I guess with our internal teams in particular, they tend to gravitate more towards the bigger franchises... games like the Marios and Zeldas.
I guess we could have looked at different approaches with 1080 [1080 Snowboarding] on N64 and tried to find ways to extend that franchise or build it in a way so we could maintain that brand until now... but it's always a difficult decision in terms of which ones to choose.
For us, it's less about choosing which franchise we're going to create and more about choosing what type of game style we want to create and what type of new experience we're creating and that's limited internally by the number of different teams who can create those ideas.