In other words, it's you - the nonbeliever, the onetime fan, the working professional who has since come up short on free time for leisure activities - who Miyamoto believes is the future of interactive entertainment. The revolution, to paraphrase, will not come via the Sci-Fi Channel. It will instead be sparked by a gaming renaissance featuring support from all members of the family - self-styled technophobes such as Mom, Dad, and even Grandma and Grandpa­ included.

At odds with competitors (such as Microsoft, who partnered with MTV to reveal the Xbox 360), Miyamoto's got no stomach for flashy product launches, fancy ad spots, and corporate synergy. But as senior management director and general manager of entertainment analysis and development division - read: head creative honcho - for Nintendo's Japan division, he understands the value of cutting-edge ­hardware and glossy marketing campaigns. He just believes that best-­selling set-top system launches are driven by creative inspiration and quality game play, not catchy
buzzwords and rampant hyperbole.

A throwback to gaming's kinder, gentler era, the aging great refuses to churn out cookie-cutter sequels, publishing blockbuster follow-ups only when technological and storytelling advancements warrant them. "We want Wii to be a system that will appeal to everyone," he says. "The way to make this happen isn't just to rehash the same old titles, but rather to exceed hope and take games to a whole new level, beyond the boundaries of peoples' expectations."

Looking at the starry-eyed man before me - slighter and shier in person than pictorials convey - it's easy to see that if anyone's capable of pulling off such a coup, it's Miyamoto. And, of course, the man is the same nimble-minded young boy, hungry for excitement and adventure, who saw gateways to parallel dimensions around every tree and stoplight.

Pausing to take my leave, I thank Miyamoto for his time before extending a hand and a few gentle words of gratitude for the untold opportunities he's opened not only for me but also for countless other ­video-game fans. And, of course, I wish him the best of luck in bucking industry trends.

At which point, he unexpectedly stands up straight and tall, and, true to form, chuckles heartily. "Others talk of gaming's next generation," he grins. "We're offering an entirely new one. Luck's got nothing to do with it."
And just like that, I walk away a convert - knowing that, come what may, in one sense, it's already game over for the competition.


Hall of Game
An inside guide to Miyamoto's greatest hits

-1981
Donkey Kong is released, marking the initial appearance of Jumpman­ (a.k.a. Mario). The arcade game is an overnight success and Nintendo's first hit outside Japan.

-1983
Coin-operated debut of Mario Bros. introduces star sibling Luigi. Headliner trades carpentry for plumbing.

-1985
Super Mario Bros. ships, catapulting Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Miyamoto to instant stardom. It also sets a benchmark for side-scrolling adventures and sells more than 40 million copies worldwide, a Guinness World Record.

-1987
Enter fantasy dungeon crawl The Legend of Zelda, inspired by Miyamoto's childhood spelunking adventures. It single-handedly defines action-based role-playing outings.

-1991
Super Mario World ships with the Super NES (SNES), ensuring the console's immediate success.

-1993
Futuristic space-flight game Star Fox for SNES launches. It proves that Miyamoto's vision readily extends into the third dimension.

-1996
Super Mario 64 catapults Nintendo 64 to chart-topping performance, selling more than 11 million units. The title is hailed as a watershed moment for 3-D gaming.
-1997
Mario Kart 64 is an instant classic, bringing white-knuckle racing to the masses.

-2001
While playing in his garden, Miyamoto creates the concept for the quirky GameCube real-time strategy title Pikmin.

-2002
Animal Crossing (GameCube and Game Boy Advance) challenges players to interact with living worlds filled with minigames and memorable personalities.

-2005
Miyamoto acts as general producer on virtual pet sensation Nintendogs for Nintendo DS.

-2007
Super Mario Galaxy for Wii will debut. It's set to reaffirm the designer's legendary status.