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Nintendo isn't shy about discussing their future plans. In a new interview, Mario and Legend of Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto talked about the company's next gaming console along with the future of their biggest franchise.

The Associated Press asked Miyamoto whether we'll see Mario in 2015. He could have mentioned Mario Maker or Mario Party 10. Instead, he gave a much more interesting answer:
"Since we first created Mario, people have compared him to Mickey Mouse. I've always said Mickey Mouse evolved with each evolution in animation. You saw Mickey Mouse each step of the way. From early on, I wanted Mario to be that character in the digital world, so that with each digital evolution, he was there to usher in the next era."

"I think that maybe when we release the next hardware system, you can look forward to seeing Mario take on a new role or in a new game."

Yes, that's right - the "next hardware system." Even the 3DS is only three years old and the Wii U is only two years old, Miyamoto's not afraid to admit that they've got another console in the works.

"We're focused on providing a robust line-up of Wii U software for next year. It seems like we've managed to do that this year and people are very happy with what we've done on Wii U. For the time being, our focus is on the Wii U hardware, but Nintendo as a whole has groups working on ideas for new hardware systems. While we're busy working on software for the Wii U, we have production lines that are working on ideas for what the next system might be."

It's surprising that Nintendo would mention new systems this early on. It seems like their current hardware just hit its stride. This year Wii U received MK8 and Bayonetta 2, two of the best-reviewed games for the console so far. The Super Smash Bros. series finally made its debut on Wii U and 3DS as well. Now that the systems are more enticing to buy than ever, why would you want consumers thinking that newer hardware is on the way?

Still, Miyamoto's statement doesn't necessarily mean that this new console is close to release. This future hardware could be in its earliest stages. It's very possible Microsoft and Sony are also making plans for next generation as well. The difference is that Nintendo's willing to admit it.

His mention of Mario taking on a "new role" is interesting, though. It suggests that we'll see some new spin-off or some dramatic change in the main platforming series. It's tough to say what new form everyone's favorite plumber will take without knowing what this new hardware will be, though.

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