As the years worn on, Miyamoto wasn’t directing the Mario games any more, but returned to the director’s chair for Super Mario 64, the first game to render Mario in 3D polygons. And he returned with gusto.
Nintendo’s Yoshiaki Koizumi recalls working on Mario 64 with Miyamoto. One night while working until 2 or 3 in the morning, Koizumi and Miyamoto were in the office talking about how Mario should move.
“So it was just Miyamoto-san and me in the office,” Koizmui recalls, “and he starts showing me how Mario is supposed to swim while saying, ‘It’s not really a breast stroke, and not a crawl, but something like this maybe…?’ And he was completely sprawled out on the desk doing these swimming motions.”
Koizumi jokingly says he should’ve snapped some photos of Miyamoto’s desk swimming. “But when I looked at him there and noticed he wasn’t a bit embarrassed,” he continues, “I thought, ‘This is the work of a true director.'”
Koizumi later realised that the instruction sheets for 3D games just don’t cut it. Thus, Miyamoto’s gesticulating, as embarrassing as it was, helped illuminate how the character should move.
If anyone ever asks what Shigeru Miyamoto did on Super Mario 64, tell them, “He swam on desks.”