The man behind Super Mario 64 is a shaggy-haired, banjo-playing Japanese artist who rides a bicycle to work, wears a Mickey Mouse tie and chills out by plucking bluegrass tunes on his Dobro guitar.

Normally, such behavior would not get you far in the land of white-shirted "salarymen." But Shigeru Miyamoto, 43, has reached the top in the rarefied world of video-game designers by consistently creating games that kids can't resist. As a result, he's as revered as a rock star--and not just in Japan. Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney and movie directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have all traveled to Nintendo's...

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