Nintendo Power interviews Miyamoto about Star Fox 64

This interview is a reprint from Nintendo Power published in January 1997.

Nintendo Power: We heard you did the job of the director even though officially, you were the producer of Starfox 64.

Shigeru Miyamoto: (laughing) No, its not true. Since I designed the original Star Fox game, I am responsible for the basic game design, but I fully relied upon other people to direct the game

NP: We also heard that you had many opinions about how to change the Corneria Stage, especially after the game was finished.

SM: Yes, I asked for additional changes to add more excitement. I wanted to see changes in some of the basic rules, as well.

NP: How about map design?

SM: I made changes in Corneria and Meteo. I think that the first 30 minutes of a game is the most important. It’s the producers job to make sure it’s exciting.

NP: Why did you make Starfox 64 a remake of the original Star Fox?

SM: we wanted to produce an interesting game design, rather than a new story. Sometimes I ask myself if we should continue this approach. For example, should we keep trying to put all the new technologies into each new Mario game. What comes next? Super Mario 128? Actually, thats what I want to do. (laughs).

NP: We saw Star Fox 2 for the Super NES serveral years ago, but it never came out. Did you use any ideas from that game in Star Fox 64?

SM: We borrowed several ideas. All-Range mode, Multi Player mode, and the Star Wolf scenaria all came from Star Fox 2. I’d say 60% of SF64 comes from the original game, 30% from SF2, and 10% is entirely new.

NP: So you really wanted to make the definitive Star Fox game with the N64 title?

SM: Not exactly. I’m not so attached to the Star Fox theme. The original game was a challenge to push the limits of the [Super NES] hardware. When we showed the game to people, they said, “Uh, what’s with the triangle?” For us the polygon shapes were part of a ship or building, not just a flat triangle. Now after finishing Starfox 64, I can see that it really was just a flat triangle (laughs).

NP: What were some of the things that didnt work in the original game.

SM: I really wanted to make realisting aiming and shooting- sort of a floating feeling. But it was difficult to get it working on the Super NES. I
wanted to improve that in the N64 game.

NP: Now the Arwing control is remarkably smooth. Did you want to include more special moves than the loop an the U-turn?

SM: If we make another Star Fox, we’ll probably add a move and delete a move. I don’t want the play control system to be too complicated. The
Arwaing has to be able to do alot of things in a dog-fight without an overly complex control system. Maybe the current system is pretty close to ideal.

NP: The configuration of the button controls always seem to be very good in your games. How do you decidewhat button operates what function?

SM: I had a problem with the placement of the boost button in this game. I thought it might make more sense to use the top C button, but if you put the camera control on the left C button, then players might accidentally hit it and shift their view. I tried many alternatives, but I’m satisfied with the final arrangement.

NP: You must be happy with it. You didn’t include a configure mode.

SM: Actually, we kept the configure mode until the end of last January, but we decided that we should emphasize Star-Fox-like game play and we deleted the option. Also, we wanted to establish a sort of standard for Control Stick operations.

NP: With most games, you have said that you being design with an experimental core sequence. Did you do that here?

SM: Since we began with the idea of converting the original Star Fox, we didnt have to do any experiments. Shaping up the graphics was one sort of experiment and discovering how many enemy characters we can move with intelligent action was another. Real-time dialogue was also a big experiment when we began this game.

NP: It seems surprising that Fox has a speaking part. It’s hard to imagine player characters like Mario or Link speaking in one of your games.

SM: Yes, I’m also surprised (laughs). I supervised the script editing, but much of it was entrusted to other staff members. Then I discovered that Fox was speaking. Where did that come from? But, as it turns out, the speaking parts are kept to a minimum. It’s different from an RPG character speaking.

NP: At the Tokyo Game Show, you talked about how Star Fox 64 is a movie-like game. Could you explain more about this?

SM: I don’t have the exact answer to this. For 10 years, people have talked about interactive movies, mainly people in the film industry. Game
developers have also tried to make interactive movies, but they usually turn out to be more movie-like than game-like. It seems that alot of game people seem to think that movies are superior, for some reason, but we don’t think that at all. Still, we think that we can borrow good ideas from the movies, like dramatic camera movements, and the use of real time voices. In Star Fox 64, we found that the overall experience gave us a fuller, movie-like feeling. Basically, movies are a passive experience and games are active. I didn’t exactly set out to do this, but Star Fox 64 became an example of what I think interactive movies can be.

NP: Do you think that camera work is the most important thing you can learn form movies?

SM: There are tons of thins that we can learn, but camera work is very important. Since I have been working on 3-D games, I have begun to specify camera angles, locations and movement. I think about these things when I watch movies.

NP: What are some of the problems you encountered while programming the Rumble Pak vibration sequences?

SM: In some situations, players dont understand why they feel a vibration. For instance, when the Attack Carrier flies over head [In the branching path of Corneria] it is because of the proximity of this huge machine. We deleted similar effects when we found that they were too confusing.

NP: What are the plans for the next Rumble Pak game?

SM: I’d like to use it as much as possible. I’d like to use it with GoldenEye, for instance.

NP: Why did you choose a tank and a submarine for use in the game?

SM: I didn’t. My staff came up with those ideas. At first, I wanted to have the Arwing transform into a human-type craft. They all hated the idea so I told them to come up with something better. They did.

NP: Where did the idea of the fighting team come from?

SM: I wanted to make a “you are here” type of feeling in the game. For example, in Katina, you’re going there to help friendly troops. Then theres also the sense that you just get caught up in the fight.

NP: Do NPCs [Non-player characters] like Bill and Katt help give oyu that feeling?

SM: Yes, although there weren’t alot of RPG players on the development team so they didnt know what I meant when I told them about adding NPCs.

NP: We love the multi-player mode. Was it an original part of the game design?

SM: I think that multi-player games are important for the N64. With four players, it gets very exciting. With this in mind, we came up with the Star
Fox 64 four-player mode at an early stage of development. We had already thought about multi player modes in Star Fox 2, as well.

NP: What is your favorite place in Star Fox 64?

SM: I like the branch route of Venom 1. When the characters split up, you have to decide who to help. Falco should be okay on his own, but I worry about Slippy (laughs). I would like to create more of those situations. Also, I like the looping action of the Arwing. It’s fun and easy to control. That’s what Nintendo games are all about.

NP: Are you 100% satisfied with Star Fox 64?

SM: No, though I think that we did a better job of making use of the N64’s capabilities than in Super Mario 64. In the game design, I wanted players to have to use more strategic thinking. For instance, if you rescue one thing, you’ll lose something else.

NP: Can you tell us anything about other games that are in development for the N64?

SM: Right now, we are working on GoldenEye, Yoshi’s Island 64 and Zelda 64. Goldeneye is being done by Rare. That kind of first-person game makes very good use of the control stick, but its not something we’re very good at here at EAD. I’m glad that Rare is working on it. Turok was a good example of how the developers made use of the hardware in their game design. I even thought about using some similar things in Zelda 64, but we’re kinda heading in a different direction on that game.

NP: Using the Control Stick is very important in your plans?

SM: Yes. Zelda 64 will be an adventure that both beginners and experts can enjoy. Intuitive play control is a big part of that, and the Control Stick lets you make very natural feeling moves.

NP: What will you change in Yoshis Isnland 64 form the original?

SM: It will be easy to move about, but with your use of the Control Stick will determine if you discover new things. You will be able to rotate
backgrounds as if you were directing the game. It should be more fun that the original because of the power of the hardware.

NP: And what about Zelda 64?

SM: Im working fulltime on Zelda 64 now. Zelda will be a more realistic emotion advanture than Super Mario 64. I want players to be able to feel the game. They should be able to feel light and shadow, and even temperature and humidity. With the power of the N64, we can express all of these things. There will be many interactive movie elements in Zelda 64, as well. If I could spend the next two years on this game, it would be unbelievable (laughs).

NP: How soon will we see it in Noth America?

SM: Conversion from Japanese to English needs a certain amount of time. Perhaps four months after the Japanese version. I would guess that by about April or May next year, you will reading a Zelda 64 Players guide.

NP: What are your favorite parts of the game [Starfox 64]?

SM: Since I’m a father, I like the final stage where James McCloud returns to guide his son, Fox, though the tunnel to escape from Venom. I also like the ending scene when you have all the allied fighters flying in formation. To get that, you have to make sure you don’t hit bill or any of the other good guys.