In 2006 Nintendo’s President Had Two Prophetic Regrets

One of Nintendo’s more controversial moves for the Wii in 2009 — the resurgence and re-purposing of GameCube games for Nintendo’s current console — has long been on Iwata’s mind, as I was reminded when I listened to these comments Nintendo president Satoru Iwata made to me in an interview almost three years ago.


As grumbling longtime Nintendo fans know, Nintendo plans to publish just two titles for the Wii this winter, both of which are re-purposed GameCube games with added Wii controls. But, grumbling longtime Nintendo fans, maybe you can look at this pending March release of “New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis” and “New Play Control! Pikmin” another way:

Let me take you back to the Game Developers Conference of 2006 and my sitdown interview with Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. It was March, just two months before Nintendo’s then-unreleased console would drop its Revolution codename and become the Wii and just two months before it’s flagship games, “Wii Sports” and “Super Mario Galaxy” would become the stars of E3 2006.

I asked Iwata to reflect on the GameCube, the 2001 Nintendo console that would be replaced by the Revolution/Wii that coming fall. What was he proud of? And what did he regret?

His answers proved prophetic and did much to justify the Revolution/Wii’s relatively limited horsepower as well as the 2009 re-purposing of GameCube games for the Wii:

“The one thing I’m still very proud about that I think to this day we did very well with the GameCube is that we designed a system that was very, very well thought out and well put together. The design of the overall system was really great. And it achieved our goal of trying to make it easier to develop games.

“The other regret that I have is, despite the fact that a lot of very, very fun titles were released for Nintendo GameCube, not very many people got to experience them.”

“On the other hand, I think the one issue that we had is really an issue of momentum with GameCube. The PlayStation 2 launched before the Nintendo GameCube and, when we launched the Nintendo GameCube — despite the fact that it was a more powerful system — the consumer wasn’t able to see that it was a more powerful system. Because of that, the GameCube had a hard time building momentum. And so, in that sense, that would be one regret I have about the Nintendo GameCube.

“The other regret that I have is, despite the fact that a lot of very, very fun titles were released for Nintendo GameCube, not very many people got to experience them. And that’s why I’m hoping that, with Nintendo Revolution, number one, I think we’re going to be able to build that momentum. And number two, I’m hoping that people who didn’t play games on Nintendo GameCube will, through the backwards compatibility of Nintendo Revolution, go back and try out some of that unique and innovative software that we released on the Nintendo GameCube.”


The above quote didn’t make it into my original story, but plenty of other stuff did. Check out the March 2006 MTV News article:Nintendo President Says Revolution Still Full Of Surprises. So much of what he told me back then about what Nintendo was up to and how he expected the style of games the company makes and the type of consumers Nintendo attracts to change proved prescient.

From Iwata’s perspective, can you blame him for wanting some of the GameCube’s best games to get a second shot at success?