The success of Minecraft has led to many people claiming that they too once had the idea to create an elaborate game of digital building blocks. When you hear these claims, you tend to just nod your head and smile politely. When Shigeru Miyamoto starts talking about a Minecraft-like vision he once had, however, it's fairly notable.
In an interview with Glixel, Miyamoto shared his admiration of the Minecraft series and his regret that he never followed through on similar ideas that he had in the past.
“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,” said Miyamoto on whether or not he plays any non-Nintendo games. “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.”
The fact that Miyamoto's nearly unmatched level of success in the video game industry makes him an unlikely candidate for professional exaggeration certainly helps the validity of this claim, but it's actually not that difficult to imagine Miyamoto shaping a Minecraft-style game many years ago. He's always been a huge proponent of slightly bizarre experiences that emphasize child-like creativity (such as Mario Paint), and games that draw upon fairly common real-life experiences.
So why didn't Miyamoto ever finish working on this project? If there's a reason, he's not saying, but it seems likely that it was just one of many Nintendo projects that was worked on for a time but ultimately never led to anything tangible. It's also fairly interesting to hear Miyamoto praise Minecraft so openly given how long Nintendo resisted bringing the game to Wii U.
Should Miyamoto ever decide to finish that particular project, we're sure that the world wouldn't have a problem with that particular clone.