Stephen Totilo, over at Kotaku, interviewed Shigeru Miyamoto last month at E3. He asked Miyamoto why Nintendo games feel different. Love the insightful response:
Miyamoto: So you know programming is all about numbers. The challenge is getting this kind of feeling into numbers. So there’s a lot of back and forth between the programmer and myself and the director. We really go in deep about how to create this feeling. We do a lot of back and forth.
Bill Trinen: It actually goes back to the way they designed the original Super Mario Bros., where when they tested it, originally, there was no Mario and there was no person. It was just a block. And you would press the button and see the block move. There’s actually a word in Japanese that describes what you’re talking about–the feeling–which there is no word for in English. In Japanese it’s called tegotae..