Shigeru Miyamoto to Gunpei Yokoi, 1983

And lo, the great hero did meet his foe and vanquish him, but alas! The princess was to be found in another castle.

My dear sir:

I believe I’ve unlocked the secret of our new game. Currently, the hero is not well-developed as a character. People need a hero they can relate to, and a collection of colored blobs on top of another blob of a different color is simply not relatable to people, who are by and large NOT piles of colored blobs. In order to move the art form of video games forward, we need to create an epic tale that will elevate storytelling to a new level. This is why I am proposing we make our main character a heroic Italian plumber named Mario.

Like the great epics of the past, our plumber should have to go on a quest, wherein he learns important truths about the world, humanity, and most importantly, himself. Like the Aeneid of Virgil, Mario will find himself in a strange foreign land, where he will have to save a good and just princess from an evil king. It’s a timeless tale. Please see the attached design documents. And just as in Homer’s Iliad, the bad guys will be entirely turtles, and the evil king will be a dragon turtle with a spiky shell. Heroic Mario will need to use all his wits and skills to rescue the kingdom, which is populated entirely by anthropomorphic mushrooms. A more human tale has never been told.

I’m picturing an entire series. Mario can go into a dream world where he throws vegetables at evil frogs. He can ride around on a pet dinosaur that has a long tongue and eats everything. Maybe he can even fly around space, jumping from planet to planet like a Roman god. Most importantly, Mario, his friends, and his rivals can all put aside their differences and race around in go-karts. This will capture the hearts of children and adults alike. Who among us cannot relate?

Also, I seem to have run out of LSD. Please send.




The origins of the now famous hero Mario the Italian plumber can be traced to this letter, found in a locked drawer in the desk of video game designer Gunpei Yokoi after his untimely death.

Yokoi’s reluctance to make public the impetus behind the design of the character Mario no doubt stems from his family’s historical reliance on LSD, which until this point had made them the greatest video game designers in the world. Releasing that trade secret to the public would have made their work obsolete.

Of course, Miyamoto and Yokoi’s drug use was not unique in the world of video game design. Consider the heavy addiction of the makers of Duck Hunt (meth), Pinball (cocaine), Tetris (heroin), Pacman (marijuana), Dance, Dance, Revolution (ecstasy), and of course NBA Jam (St. John’s Wort, but only on Tuesdays).

Scholars still don’t know just what is fueling the creators of Halo.

Historians have also noted that Shigeru Miyamoto’s incorrect understanding of the plot of Homer’s Iliad derives not from an LSD-induced dream, but from a briefly circulated 1979 spoof book titled “The Iliad: Trojans and the Killer Turtles Who Love Them.” Apparently, Miyamoto assumed it was the original.

Notably, Miyamoto does not mention Mario’s ability to travel through underground pipes, which leaves us to believe the idea was Yokoi’s alone. This theory is backed up by a diary entry describing the magical world he visited under the guest bathroom.



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2 responses to “Shigeru Miyamoto to Gunpei Yokoi, 1983

  1. Ha, I liked this line: “And just as in Homer’s Iliad, the bad guys will be entirely turtles…”

  2. Pingback: Great-Uncle Henry Kantrowitz to on the Occasion of Their 100th Letter | The History of the Letter

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