Idea Blog

Rest in Peace, Satoru Iwata

Blake Harris 07.13.2015

Yesterday evening, Nintendo released the following statement:

Nintendo Co., Ltd. deeply regrets to announce that President Satoru Iwata [55] passed away on July 11, 2015 due to a bile duct growth.

Even if you’ve never before heard the name “Satoru Iwata,” you’ve most likely enjoyed a few of his many contributions over the years. That’s because Iwata-san was so talented at embodying traits that are often thought to be contradictory. He was a dreamer and realistic; an artist and a businessman; and a humble old-school throwback who embraced new media to spread the fun of Nintendo. Because, to him, that’s what it was all about: fun. Creating fun games, led by fun characters to bring fun and joy to casual and hardcore gamers alike.

Perhaps no creation embodies Iwata’s dual spirit better than the Nintendo Wii—a monstrously successful console that changed the way we play. But over his long and illustrious career, that was just one of the cultural touchstones he had a hand in bringing to life. So, to celebrate this man, let’s take a look through the years at some of the highlights from his career.

But before we get into any of that, let’s first enjoy this beautiful video–from Nintendo’s E3 event only a few weeks back–in which Iwata and a few of the company’s other legends come to life in muppet form…

1982: At the age of 22, Iwata graduates from the Tokyo Institute of Technology University.

1983: Iwata joins HAL Laboratory, a small Japanese game-maker with  close ties to Nintendo.

1984: Iwata helps produce NES Pinball.

1985Iwata programs the classic Sakamoto-designed game Balloon Fight.

BF

1987: Iwata serves as producer of Air Fortress.

1988: Iwata serves as producer of Othello.

1991: Iwata develops NES Open Tournament Golf.

1992: Iwata helps shepherd an adorable pink puffball into existence with the release of Kirby’s Dream Land.

kirby

1993: With HAL in financial trouble, Iwata is appointed president of the company and helps turn the ship around.

1998: Iwata and Masahiro Sakurai develop the prototype for the original Super Smash Bros

1999: Iwata analyzes the game code from Pokémon Red and Green and then creates Pokémon Stadium for the Nintendo 64.

2000: After nearly two decades making games for Nintendo (at HAL), Iwata joins Nintendo to oversee the Corporate Planning Division. 

2002: Nintendo’s legendary president, Hiroshi Yamauchi, announces his retirement and appoint Iwata his successor. Iwata becomes the company’s first president outside of the Yamauchi family (who founded Nintendo in 1889).

2004: Under Iwata, Nintendo releases its new portable called the Nintendo DS.

2006: Iwata launches an ongoing series of interviews with Nintendo software and hardware designers. (my personal favorite is his conversation with Miyamoto).

2006: In an effort to capture the hearts of casual gamers, Iwata steers the release of a new console called the Nintendo Wii. To date, Nintendo has sold over 100 million units of the Wii.

Nintendo wii

2013: Iwata appointed as CEO of Nintendo of America Inc.

an uncredited piece of fan art that has become popular on Twitter

an uncredited piece of fan art that has become popular on Twitter

Blake Harris

Blake Harris

Blake Harris is the author of "Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation."
Blake Harris

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