Nintendo puts Miyamoto in Mario Kart: "Look, he's not leaving!"

You're Nintendo: what's the best way to convince people your iconic game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, really isn't stepping back from developing hit franchises and retiring? You could issue an enthusiastic press statement, certainly, but how much better to put Miyamoto into a life-sized Super Mario Kart looking gleefully excited.

The Mario Karts we've seen before, back in mid-November when Nintendo commissioned West Coast Customs to come up with two electric buggies – one for Mario and one for Luigi – from the hit racing game. There doesn't appear to be any particular reason why Nintendo has put Miyamoto behind the wheel of Mario's kart at this particular time, beyond making sure the exec looks sufficiently enthused to bypass any retirement rumors.

You can't blame Nintendo for trying: the company's current primary hardware line-up, the Wii and the 3DS, face strong competition from dedicated gaming rivals as well as from smartphones and tablets, with the glasses-free 3D gaming handheld only really beginning to gain traction when its price was slashed. As for the Wii, that will be superseded by the Wii U in 2012, complete with a new touchscreen tablet controller.