With Studio Ghibli being so beloved and renown around the world, it’s surprising that we never had a game based off one of the movies. With so many settings and themes such as Princess Mononoke and Porco Rosso, it just reeks of ideas that would work so well in video game form. While we still have yet to this day have a video game based off an IP of the studio, we can’t say that it hasn’t at least been attempted.
Around 1992 Tokuma Shoten, who owned Studio Ghibli at the time, planned to publish a game centered around the 1988 movie My Neighbor Totoro. While not having a long resume, the company did act as a publisher for popular titles within Japan such as Yadamon, Eternal Filena, and the original Puyo Puyo.
What’s interesting is that nobody ever knew this was even a thought until 27 years later. That was when former Tokuma artist Itoh Shigeyuki revealed on Twitter two images from a pitch that was show to Miyazaki himself.
“About 27 years ago, I drew these from scratch pixel by pixel to pitch a My Neighbor Totoro Super Famicom game to Hayao Miyazaki. (*for Tokuma Shoten Intermedia. The game got shelved). There were no decent scanners back then, so I had to stare at an art book and draw these one pixel at a time”
While he doesn’t know the exact details on why the game never got the green light, he did mention that the OK never came from the director. It’s actually still unknown how much of it was due to the director not liking the idea (which was believed to have been an adventure game), or if Miyazaki turned it down.
Of course Studio Ghibli later went on to solidify themselves in movie history by going on to make such beloved films such as Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Spirited Away. Even Shigeyuki would go on to work in the video game industry. He worked as a progammer in the early 2000s with one of his accomplishments being as the event programmer on the original Metal Gear Solid. He also got to do some work on the beloved RPGs as a director including the Program Director of Final Fantasy Tactics and the Design Director of Star Ocean: First Departure.