Shigeru Miyamoto is still reveling in the news from a big week in the press. The first public display of the Nintendo Switch and the launch of Super Mario Run have kept him talking more than he has in recent memory.

Another topic he touched on recently was Minecraft. In an interview with Glixel, he says he is a huge fan of the game, but often feels like it should have been something Nintendo made at some point. In fact, he claims Nintendo did make something “very similar” on the Nintendo 64, but never turned it into a full game.

I do like Minecraft, but really more from the perspective of the fact that I really feel like that’s something we should have made. We had actually done a lot of experiments that were similar to that back in the N64 days and we had some designs that were very similar.

It’s really impressive to me to see how they’ve been able to take that idea and turn it into a product.

Meaning, Nintendo’s experiments just weren’t able to be molded into something that could be sold, and it took a further decade for someone to step in and do it.

Minecraft as seen by Nintendo

Minecraft started out as just a small experiment that nobody expected to become a cultural phenomenon. Word of mouth had just as much to do with the success as the quality of the game did. You have to wonder, if Nintendo released such a game on the Nintendo 64, would it have found a similar chord with mainstream audiences?

Probably not. For one, it would cost $70 on a Nintendo 64 cartridge, much less than people are paying for entry into Minecraft. The bulk of Minecrafts’ success also came through private servers, Internet forums, and other social means that were still in their infancy in the late 90s.

Creativity is one thing, but timing is another. A similar Nintendo 64 game would probably have struck a little too early and only been seen as “ahead of its time” in retrospect. Minecraft launched in an age that allowed it to become such a success.