”Do you play games on your smartphone?” asks interviewer before the two-time gold medalist says his two favorite games are from the ‘90s.

Over the last decade or so, video games have become an increasingly mainstream-acceptable hobby, and one sign of that is celebrities talking more openly about enjoying playing games. Whereas before that might have seemed like a strange hobby for glamorous individuals with the range of entertainment options their wealth and social circles afford them, now it’s usually a fanbase-boosting plus for a celebrity to drop an offhand mention that they too are really into whatever the latest buzzworthy game is.

So when Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu was asked what he’s been doing with his downtime at the Beijing Olympics now that his events are finished, it wasn’t a shock when he said that finally having some free time has allowed him to relax and play video games for the first time in a long while. TBS sportscaster Shinichiro Azumi, who was conducting the interview on Monday night, asked the two-time Olympic gold medalist “So, do you play games on your smartphone?”

After an extended “Ummm…” as he searched for a way to diplomatically correct Azumi’s half-assumption, Hanyu said “I play games on Nintendo’s Switch.” “Ah, the Switch? What do you play? Please tell us,” Azumi asked, to which Hanyu replied “Well, I’ve been playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons.” That prompted some smiles and giggles of recognition from Azumi and his studio co-host, but some more cynical viewers might have scoffed at Hanyu’s professed affection for the biggest casual-oriented console title in recent memory. Hanyu, though, still had more to say, and proved he’s got some serious old school gamer credentials too, as seen here.

Without any further prompting from the interviewers after his Animal Crossing comment, Hanyu took the initiative to give a few more recommendations:

“I play some pretty violent games too, but right now I’m playing Animal Crossing. Personally, the games I like the most are Super Famicom games. There’s a game called Heisei Shin Onigashima, a pretty obscure game that I think a lot of people might not have heard of, but that game was one of the first games I really enjoyed. And I also played Estpolis Denki II. That was the other one that really got me into games.”

Yep, Hanyu’s favorite games come from the 16-bit era, specifically Nintendo’s Super Famicom/Super NES. The first of the two retro titles he mentions, Heisei Shin Onigashima, is a text adventure game with on-screen graphics first published by Nintendo in 1997 and never sold outside Japan.

▼ Heisei Shin Onigashima

Estpolis Denki II, on the other hand, did make it overseas, just not under that name. The RPG, originally published in Japan by Taito in 1995, was renamed Lufia II for its 1996 North American and 1997 European release by Natsume and Nintendo, respectively.

▼ Lufia II

Both games came late in the Super Famicom’s/Super NES’ lifecycle, but have a special charm recognized by those who’ve been lucky enough to play them. Lufia II, in particular, was tragically underappreciated at the time of its release, despite its innovative non-random monster encounter system and uniquely challenging but fun puzzle dungeons.

▼ Hanyu’s game talk segment, complete with the interviewer’s questions and reactions.

With Hanyu himself having been born in late 1994, odds are he was pretty late to the Lufia II and Heisei Shin Onigashima fandom, but in making a point to give a shoutout to the games, he’s picked up a few new fans, judging from the reactions his interview has been getting on social media.

“I now like him three times more than I already did.”
“When he made that quick shift to talking about classic games, it really felt like the graceful movement of a pro figure skater.”
“Is this gonna make the price of used copies of Estpolis Denki II go up?”
“Yuzuru is awesome! Usually, people don’t want to get too obscure with their answers to interview questions like this so they won’t be labeled an otaku.”
“Now I have to know: Was Hanyu Team Tia, or Team Selan?”

▼ Shopkeeper Tia and sorceress Selan both have feelings for Lufia II’s red-haired protagonist, whom this Twitter user renamed “Yuzuru” (ユヅル) after watching Hanyu’s interview.

Despite Hanyu’s love of the Super Famicom hardware, he won’t be going home with any Olympic hardware, as he finished fourth overall in the men’s singles. His teammates did capture two medals in the event, though, with Yuma Kagiyama taking home silver and fellow gamer Shoma Uno bronze. Hanyu himself also seems to be in fine spirits, judging from how he looked in his interview, and since he hasn’t announced any plans to retire from competition…

[tweethttps://twitter.com/elts_kuilcheny/status/1493243984248176640 align=center]

…maybe one day we’ll get to see him skate to the Lufia II soundtrack, because that boss battle theme really is a nice, dramatic piece of music.

Source: Hachima Kiko, YouTube/【公式】TBS スポーツ, Twitter
Top image ©SoraNews24
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he recommends everyone play Lufia I and II.