SNES CD-ROM – Flash Interview With Shigeru Miyamoto

Posted By at 4:16 PM on Tuesday January 24, 2017

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Remember the “Nintendo Playstation” prototype that was unearthed in late 2015? My friend einstein95 is preparing an article on the development process of this Super NES CD-ROM, from its birth to its cancellation, and I thought I’d help him out by translating some old Japanese magazine articles that have been archived around the web.

The article featured in this post was originally published in the January, 1992 issue of Famitsu magazine. It was scanned and posted to a Japanese site called Game Jouhou & Blog in 2008.

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Once again, there’s more to come, so I hope you enjoy!

Zelda and Mario to be first on the CD-ROM?!

At last, the Super Famicom CD-ROM Adapter has been unveiled. The Famitsu news crew tracked down Shigeru Miyamoto at the CES convention centre in America and tried for an on-the-spot interview. What happened next…?! Read on to find out…!

Now that the specs have been revealed, game development will be easier.

At last, the Super Famicom CD-ROM Adapter has been officially unveiled. It had a simultaneous announcement in America, which took place within Nintendo of America’s pavilion at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. There, Famitsu’s team of American correspondents tried for an on-the-spot interview with the one-and-only Shigeru Miyamoto. Could we get anything notable out of him?!

The ’92 Winter CES was held at a convention center in Las Vegas, Nevada. This biannual celebration of consumer electronics is also a game console carnival.

Famitsu: Let us jump right in by asking you a few questions about Nintendo’s newly-announced CD-ROM adapter.

Miyamoto: Basically, everything is hush-hush right now. To be honest with you, I’ve been forbidden to say anything but “No comment,” in response to questions about the CD-ROM… So, no matter what I’m asked, there won’t be any new information about the console’s abilities. On top of that, I’ve been busy since the moment I arrived in the U.S., so I don’t even know how much Nintendo has revealed about the CD-ROM’s specs. If I’m not careful about what I say, it’s possible that I’ll accidentally tell you something that hasn’t been announced yet. Just how much did they actually reveal about it, anyway? [Miyamoto looks puzzled.]

*Note: The reversal of the situation caught the Famitsu team a bit off guard. Now we had Miyamoto asking us about the CD-ROM’s official presentation!

Famitsu: According to the announcement, it will go on sale in January of next year, and the price will be ¥27,000. They said that the buffer capacity is 8 Mbits, and they talked about the dimensions of the console, even though the design itself hasn’t been revealed yet. Also, it will attach to the bottom of the Super Famicom… Were the specs at all influenced by your aspirations?

Miyamoto: Well, console development and game development are two different beasts. There was some tentative back-and-forth between me and the console developers, though. Now that we’ve decided on a 1993 release, it will be easier to solve some of the issues that come up during game development, as it means the specs have been finalized. On that note, what else can I answer for you that isn’t related to the console specs? [He laughs.]

Games themselves will be improved by the expanding market!

Famitsu: Don’t worry, we’re well aware that you can’t tell us anything about the console specs. [We laugh.] How about commenting from the perspective of a Nintendo game designer?

Nintendo of America had their own exhibit. This is where the announcement of the Super Famicom CD-ROM Adapter took place. It’s also where we did our interview with Miyamoto.

Miyamoto: Fair enough. So, the price has been announced. I think that the capabilities we’re offering for that price guarantee that the console will satisfy. If that information has been revealed, then I think it’s safe for me to talk a little about the games we have planned for it. I’d like to say something first, though. Well, really, I’m always saying this, but…

When the Super Famicom appeared on the market, it changed the world of gaming. I don’t mean that hardware itself changes gaming, but advances in technology certainly do. For example, at this year’s CES, we’re seeing a lot of smaller PC software developers entering the 16-bit market. [Referring to the Super Famicom and the Sega Genesis]. Back in the days of 8-bit consoles [such as the Famicom and the Master System], developers of computer software couldn’t realize the ideas they wanted to implement on consoles due to their low capabilities. As a result, they weren’t entering the market. With the advent of 16-bit consoles, however, they were able to do the things they wanted to do.

So, the more software companies that we have putting out titles, the greater the chances are that we’ll see some interesting games.

What’s a good fit for the CD-ROM?

Famitsu: So, can you give us some specifics on what kind of interesting games we can expect to play on the CD-ROM?

Miyamoto: Hmmm… Well, let’s just say that the word “interesting” comes with its own set of problems. The industry has oversized dreams for the CD-ROM. Illusions, you could say. We’re going to run into trouble if people think that any genre of game will be enjoyable, just because it’s on the CD-ROM. I believe that some game genres will suit the system, while others won’t be a good fit at all. If we say that there are a hundred genres of video games, I think only 15~30 of them will be a good match for the CD-ROM.

Famitsu: And what would you say those genres would be?

Miyamoto: Actually, you could say I’m still looking into that… [He laughs.] Or you could say that it’s not something I can tell you. [He laughs again.] I do think I can tell you this, however: Imagine there’s a game. Originally, the plan is to release it on cartridge, but then a new system called the CD-ROM comes out, so it gets released on CD, instead. Something like that would make me sad. If developers release CD games that don’t actually need to be on CD, will consumers really be happy to buy them? For example, a Mario game with 1000 stages would just be cruel. I’d like creators to take some time to think these things through.

A 1000-level Mario game would be cruel.

Famitsu: So, you’re saying that you’ve narrowed your focus down to certain genres, and completed development on a CD title?! That means there’s going to be brand-new launch titles for the CD-ROM, though!

Miyamoto: Yes, that’s why I mentioned a Mario game with 1000 stages… [He laughs.] I’m kidding, obviously. Naturally, launch titles for the system are currently in development.

Famitsu: Hmm… Well, knowing Nintendo, we can probably expect the first title to be a Mario game. Can you tell us a bit about it, for the sake of our 5,000,000 readers nationwide?

Miyamoto: Uhm… [He lets out a strained laugh, looking flummoxed.] Well, alright. But only a little! We’ve got plans for a game with Mario in it. We want it to be a “Mario” that players can only experience on the CD-ROM, but what that might actually look like is a difficult question. [He chuckles.] If we can’t develop something like that, maybe we should just release a 1000-level Mario game. [He laughs.]

Famitsu: That’s awesome that we’ll be able to look forward to a Mario game for the CD-ROM!! But one Mario game isn’t all you’ll be releasing, right?

Miyamoto: Uhmmmm… [He really drew this one out.] Let’s just say that you’ll be seeing Mario and Zelda…

Famitsu: Heh heh, so that means that there are currently two titles in the lineup. By the way [Aren’t we persistent!], when the Super Famicom was released, Nintendo unveiled F-Zero as the ace up their sleeve. Naturally, this time around, there’s sure to be another secret weapon in development that will really make use of the console’s capabilities… We’d assume, anyway…

Miyamoto: Yes, of course; there’s sure to be a game like that. It’s just something you’ll have to look forward to… Maybe we should leave things at that, for now.

Famitsu: Right… Perhaps we should. Bit of a shame, though. Thank you very much for talking with us for so long!

What kind of title is it that will make full use of the system specs, and rival F-Zero, the launch title for the Super Famicom? And what can we expect from Mario and Zelda games that leverage the 540 Mbit capacity of the console? There’s no way we’ll be able to tear our eyes away from the goings-on at Nintendo now!!

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