Nyan Cat creator Chris Torres talks Nintendo
Nintendo Insider: First of all Chris, I’d like to welcome you to Nintendo Insider, it’s a pleasure to have you here! Why don’t you start us off by telling us your earliest memories and experiences of Nintendo?
Chris Torres: Nintendo and I go way back to when I was a toddler. I distinctly remember Super Mario Bros. 1 and 2 USA being my first Nintendo adventures. My older brother and I would share the system, so there were a few quarrels to get control of player one.
When Super Mario Bros. 3 came along, my brother got the Nintendo Power issue with tips and tricks for the game and would lock it in a safe so I couldn’t learn the secrets. He then would give me fake tips when we played two-player mode so I could land on spikes or in holes in hopes of “a million points,” but I quickly learned to do things my own way. I think that game sparked many years of sibling rivalry between us, but it was fun!
NI: As a keen Nintendo fan, I imagine you have experienced lots of games over many of Nintendo’s consoles and handhelds. What have been some of your favourites?
CT: It’s kind of strange, but the game I feel holds a special place in my heart the most is Super Mario Bros. 2 USA. It was just such a bizarrely different game at the time and so fun to find out all the secrets.
When the SNES came along, Mario Paint was surprisingly the game I played the most. I would record VHS tapes of my Mario Paint “game plays” and send them to my grandmother who lived across the country at the time. They’d mostly be messages saying I missed her, or I’d try to animate little plays for her. I’m sure they were all terrible, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
Super Mario RPG was a huge deal for me. It was my first RPG ever, and I had no clue what I was doing so it took me probably two years and many Nintendo Hotline calls to complete. I originally didn’t have much interest in The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past until I played Link’s Awakening, but ended up loving the Zelda franchise after LTTP.
The Game Boy Camera also got more use than it should have. I think I might still have some old photos on it somewhere. And of course, nothing had me more addicted as much as Pokémon! There was a time where I bought everything Pokémon related. I’d even save my weekly lunch money allowance to buy Pokémon cards.
NI: What are your thoughts on the evolution of Nintendo, and how it has grown, adapted and dealt with the changing games industry and its competition?
CT: From my experience it seemed like Nintendo played by their own rules for a very long time, for better or for worse. While other systems veered to more of an adult demographic with better graphics, Nintendo stayed adamant on their vision to keep things generally kid-friendly with the idea of letting the gameplay do the talking. That formula worked for a long time, too.
However, it seems that since the end of the GameCube, Nintendo went with their “Blue Ocean” strategy, which has evolved the system into sort of a mixed bag of fitness and brain training games with dozens of peripherals. The strategy seems to be meant more for the new generation of gamers, so I feel like us old-school gamers have been put in the back seat a bit.
However, I feel like the Wii U will start to cater more to older audiences, and am looking forward to seeing what they can do. The Internet-based communities that Wii U has now are a great step in the right direction, and hopefully Nintendo can learn how to make it awesome soon.
NI: What are your thoughts on Nintendo’s latest hardware, Wii U and 3DS?
CT: As of lately, I’ve had varying opinions of both systems. The Wii U is an amazing system, but has not been turned on for a while since I’ve done everything I want to do with it right now. Also, the Miiverse is a fun online tool, but many things I tend to draw does not seem to be… favorable to the mods!
Joking aside, I feel like Nintendo has garnered a lot of third-party support this time around, but feel it’ll be a while before it hits its full stride. I think the main thing against Nintendo right now is its marketing approach. It seems like the general consumer audience just believes the Wii U is a regular Nintendo Wii. Hopefully, people realize that’s not the case, soon.
As for the 3DS, on one hand, the system prints all the money! It’s a very affordable system with amazing technology and a backlog of hundreds of awesome games. I was very happy to see the recent Nintendo Direct feature so many awesome 3DS titles coming this year (with Luigi, yay!).
On the other hand, I wish it had a more robust online community like the PlayStation Vita’s free games through PS+ or Xbox Live’s beacons and party chat. The only main forms of interaction Nintendo has going for it is SwapNote [Ed – Nintendo Letter Box in Europe], which is a clunky mess, and the Find Mii games.
It was very useful when I visited Japan last year. Every time I opened my 3DS it was full of new Miis to interact with. However, finding Miis in America is rare since people here don’t bring their systems around everywhere. Nintendo boasts about the 3DS being “always on” and I wish they’d make more use of it. Also, I love my Zelda 3DS, but was a bit upset to find out the 3DS XL was set to release just a few months later. I want to upgrade to that one soon but am waiting for a better color model.
NI: If you had the opportunity to have any Nintendo created game remade, what would it be and why?
CT: I’d definitely want Pokémon: Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald to be re-made as an enhanced version of sorts. Pokémon Red and Blue got Fire Red and Leaf Green, Gold/Silver/Crystal got Soul Silver and Heart Gold, yet Nintendo seems to pretend that R/S/E doesn’t exist.
I know Generation 3 may be one of the least fan favorite regions, but it introduced a lot of in-depth mechanics to the series. I actually completed the Pokédex for that game, event legendaries and all, and clocked over 250 hours!
NI: In the future, Sony and Microsoft will be releasing new hardware and Valve will be releasing its Steam box. With gaming on tablets and smart phones becoming increasingly popular, and with so much competition out there, how do you think Nintendo will be able to compete in the years to come?
CT: First of all, I’ve personally never been a fan of putting mobile app games up against retail video games. I feel they both have their own demographics. Mobile gamers just want something they can pick up for a few minutes and call it a day, and if they don’t already have a video game system back at home I doubt they’d be picking one up anytime soon.
Sure, you can spend a buck on an app, but from my experience finding a good quality game in the app store is very rare. Most of the time I buy an app, play it for a few minutes and delete it if it’s not good enough.
When it comes to Sony, Microsoft and Valve’s newest technologies versus Nintendo, I kind of feel like things will continue the way things already are now. People are quick to jump on Nintendo for having graphically inferior games, but Nintendo titles are usually at the top of those weekly “what sold more copies” lists on different websites.
Xbox 360 seems to do just fine in the US with the amount of content they push out a week. The PlayStation 3 seems to be doing very well, but I feel like the Vita is getting set aside to make way for the PlayStation 4. I personally don’t know much about Valve’s Steambox since I’m not much of a PC gamer, but hear the Steam community is doing amazingly well.
That being said, I feel it’s much too soon to put eggs in any basket until we see some games and more info. All it takes is one good game to put one company ahead of the others, or one dumb system spec (like no backwards compatibility or hardware issues) to make it an unfavorable system.
NI: We’re big fans of Nyan Cat here at Nintendo Insider, and it wouldn’t be right to let you go without first asking you a couple of questions about the Internet’s most famous cat. Since your creation became viral almost two years ago, how do you feel about the reception Nyan Cat has received?
CT: Originally, Nyan Cat was supposed to just be a Twitter icon and nothing more, but it’s turned into an overnight Internet hit. I still can’t believe the constant support and fan love Nyan Cat is getting worldwide, even today.
In today’s Internet age, memes come and go in a matter of days or weeks, but Nyan Cat has turned into some sort of universal pop culture icon that everybody can relate with. My inbox is constantly flooded with messages from people from all over the world, sharing their stories or photos.
I actually had to start a Facebook page for it, to start showing off the cool stuff people send me, and the page has garnered over 1.5 MILLION Likes and over 5,000 photos in a short amount of time!
I’ve also become friends with a lot of great people because of it, like Daniwell, the creator of the song, or Saraj00n, the one who uploaded the original video. It’s awesome how different ideas like this can come together to form Internet magic!
NI: Nyan Cat was influenced by your pet cat Marty, who is sadly no longer with us. While his passing must have been quite upsetting, how do you feel about his memory living on through Nyan Cat where he is being appreciated by millions of fans, possibly forever?
CT: Marty was seriously the coolest cat I’ve ever known, and if I could I’d trade it all to get him back. The Feline Infectious Peritonitis got him so quickly that by the time he started showing symptoms it was already too late. It’s still weird to think about it, but I’m honestly glad he is being remembered this way. I actually made some comics with him in the past, but they weren’t as popular.
I hope people enjoy his memory for year’s to come. He may have not known he was famous, but I still treated him like a king. Here’s a photo with us together (see left).
NI: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Chris, do you have any closing comments you would like to make to our readers?
CT: I’d like to thank everybody that’s shown their support and love for my work all these years. Without the Internet being as vocal and inspiring as it is, none of this would have happened. I’d also like to invite newcomers that don’t know about Nyan Cat to check out www.nyan.cat.
There’s a flavor chooser with many different characters to choose from. Also, we just recently released an official line of Nyan Cat toys that you can find at Toys R Us!
We would like to thank Chris for taking the time to speak to us. We hope he continues to enjoy Nintendo and wish him the very best of luck for everything he achieves for the future.