Apple, not console makers Microsoft and Sony, has become Nintendo’s closest competitor in recent years, the American computer giant pilfering the latter’s staff and carefully marketing the iPod Touch as a handheld game system to rival the Nintendo DS’s turf.

Meanwhile, the App Store continues to dominate over Nintendo’s rather lacklustre e-Shop, while Apple management even went so far as to schedule 2011’s iPad 2 announcement to clash with the Japanese game-maker’s own keynote speeches at the Game Developer’s Conference.

Nonetheless, this business rivalry hasn’t stopped Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo’s star game producer and the creator of Mario and Zelda from appreciating some of the best-known games to appear on Apple’s hardware. Hookshot Inc. caught up with Miyamoto in Paris yesterday, where he made a rare appearance to unveil a new 3DS-based audio-visual tour guide to the Louvre art gallery.

When we asked him what games he has been enjoying on his smartphone of late, he replied: “There aren’t many games that I’ve played recently that have been truly convincing to me. But that said, I have very much enjoyed Angry Birds, especially the way in which it combines traditional and new game elements in exciting ways. Angry Birds is a very simple idea but it’s one of those games that I immediately appreciated when I first started playing, before wishing that I had been the one to come up with the idea first.”

“I mean, obviously I want to be the one creating the most convincing, surprising game ideas,” he said.

When pressed as to what it is about Angry Birds that stands out, Miyamoto said: “In particular the control scheme is excellent. When you analyze it, the controls are actually quite fuzzy in terms of the way that it works. It takes a little while to get used to the controls, I think, but once you’ve mastered them, you have a lot of precision. To make it the interface and controls work that well and intuitively… well, I think a lot of work went into getting that right.”

Of course, Miyamoto couldn’t resist a dig at Apple’s hardware, saying: “Obviously, if the developer had created the game for Nintendo DS the controls would have been even better, but what can you do?”