After years of explosive growth, Nintendo Co. is under pressure to keep up its momentum. That puts the company's creative chief, Shigeru Miyamoto, in the hot seat again.
The legendary game guru, who was the brains behind Nintendo's Wii console and the creator of Donkey Kong, Mario and Zelda, is facing a disappointment this holiday season.
His new "Wii Music" game, in which players shake the Wii's controller the way an instrument would be played, has been greeted with skepticism, even from loyal fans.
"It could be Nintendo's first flop for Wii," said Benjamin Schachter, an analyst with UBS Investment Research.
In an interview, the famously private Miyamoto said he isn't bothered by how Wii Music is performing so far.
"I don't expect Wii Music to be an immediate hit," said the boyish-looking 56-year-old, who joined Nintendo in 1977 and now runs its game development. "It will be a steady long-running seller that will spread gradually by word-of-mouth."
Unlike the blockbuster music games "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band," which have sold millions of copies, letting players act like rock stars, Miyamoto made Wii Music an improvisation game that doesn't keep track of scores.
Miyamoto said his goal is to make games more than just a form of entertainment. "Wii Music," he said, has educational value as a tool to teach music theory. In the game, players choose from 60 instruments to improvise and record songs like "Yankee Doodle" and "La Cucaracha."