Sunday, July 12, 2015

Memorial: Satoru Iwata (1959 - 2015)

On Sunday, July 11, 2015, the video game industry lost a giant. One of the few remaining pioneers of his era, Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo, passed away at the age of fifty-five. Iwata was known for many things – his work on classic Nintendo titles, his zany humor within Nintendo Directs. But above all else, he brought gamers the world over happiness, and a sense of wonder in the worlds and characters he helped shape.

I got a real kick out of Iwata and Reggie’s Smash Bros. throwdown a couple years back, and this year’s E3 collaboration with the Jim Henson Company made me smile with the three major Nintendo figureheads transforming into the Star Fox crew. They even threw a scene with puppet Iwata staring at a bunch of bananas for good measure. Nintendo has, more so in recent years, indulged in the bizarre humor that their fanbase tends to latch onto, and run with it, Satoru Iwata and Reggie Fils-Aime being the two who seemed to have an especially raucous field day with it all.

Iwata had a hand in shaping a large portion of my gaming experiences during my childhood, teenage years, and into adulthood. The list of his accomplishments goes on and on, but some of the games that stood out to me the most were the ones he served as executive producer on. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was my single favorite video game of this past seventh generation of consoles, Super Mario 3D Land was a standout melding of 2D and 3D schools of game design on the 3DS, while more recent releases like Splatoon, Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta 2, and the latest iteration of Super Smash Bros. have offered me hours of fun on the Wii U. Going back even further, Metroid Prime remains one of my all-time favorite video games, and I can only begin to imagine the ludicrous number of hours I poured into the original Gamecube release of Animal Crossing. From Pokémon, to Mario, to Kirby, and Animal Crossing, Metroid, Wario Ware, Star Fox, Donkey Kong, Pikmin, and F-Zero, Satoru Iwata’s broad reach into so many different genres and landmark series is rivaled only by a select few names.

The video game industry is currently undergoing some drastic changes, specifically on the Japanese front. Hideo Kojima’s departure from Konami and Keiji Inafune’s decision to take to Kickstarter in order to fund the spiritual successor to the ever-iconic Mega Man leave some gamers uncertain as to what the future holds in store. With the loss of Satoru Iwata, the video game industry will never quite be the same. And yet, he left us so many great treasures to indulge in, and countless memories made while playing these projects he worked on.

Rest in peace, Mr. Iwata. You will be greatly missed.

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