Cheers to Mr. Iwata.
Yesterday we reported the passing of Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. Iwata, 55, who passed away over the weekend, was known as the charming leader of one of the world’s leading gaming powerhouses and as someone who helped bring systems like the Wii, the DS and the Wii U into our lives and homes.
More than just management, Iwata started off as a game programmer. He started working at Nintendo’s HAL Laboratory in the 1980s and worked on games such as Ballon Fight and Earthbound, before developing the Kirby and Super Smash Bros. franchises. He became a Director of Nintendo in 2000 before becoming the company’s president in May 2002.
During his time as President, he pushed the development of the Nintendo DS and Wii consoles in 2006, helping the company to become financially successful among other game console manufacturers. Today, in honour of celebrating Satoru Iwata’s work and the joy he’s brought us all, we’ve selected three notable games that you can play as remembrance of his passion and work.
1. Balloon Fight
Though he isn’t actually listed in the credits, Ballon Fight was one of Iwata’s first projects. Developed in 1985, “Balloon Fight” is where players rush to collect balloons while dodging enemies and lightning. “Balloon Fight” is available via Virtual Console for Wii and Wii U.
2. Super Smash Bros. Melee
Iwata continued with programming even after becoming president of HAL Laboratories in 1993. He stayed true to his roots even after becoming a corporate director of Nintendo in 2000. “Super Smash Bros. Melee” often abbreviated as “SSBM” or simply as “Melee” is a crossover fighting game released for the Nintendo GameCube shortly after its 2001 launch. It marks the second game in the “Super Smash Bro.” series, following the first game released for Nintendo 64 in 1999.
The game features characters from Nintendo video game franchises including “Mario”, “The Legend of Zelda”, “Star Fox” and “Pokémon”. Taking on a different approach, the gameplay system offers an unorthodox approach to the fighting game genre with a counter that measures damage with percentages, rather than the health bar as seen is most fighting games.
“SSBM” received universal acclaim from the media, as well as awards and acknowledgements from gaming publications. It achieved strong sales upon release, and is the GameCube’s best-selling game, with more than 7 million copies sold as of March 10, 2008.
3. Pokémon Stadium
Nintendo 64’s “Pokémon Stadium” 1998 release was meant to build on the Pokémon fever that was already taking over Japan and North America. The game was supposed to capitalise on the franchise’s signature battles by rendering them in impressive-for-the-time 3D graphics but unfortunately there were too few programmes at the Game Freak studio to really work on certain aspects of the game’s development.
According to an interview conducted between Iwata, Tsunekazu Ishihara and Shigeki Morimoto — who were working on the “Pokémon” franchise at the time — Iwata stepped in to help and spent a week studying the battle system from the original handheld Pokémon Red and Green games before transferring the battle system to “Pokémon Stadium”. From that interview:
Ishihara: I remember thinking that there just weren’t that many people out there who would be able to read the entire Game Boy source code, which was by no means written in a highly-refined programming language, and grasp how everything connected with everything else. So Iwata-san, you analysed the whole thing and reworked the code, decided on the way to localise Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green, got the battle system running on N64… I was surprised that you managed all of that…
Iwata: Well at that time, I felt that for the whole team at Nintendo, the biggest priority was not to do anything that would adversely influence the development of Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver. So I very naturally slotted in on the development side for Pokémon.
It goes without saying that Mr. Iwata brought joy to the lives of many and that he will definitely be missed.
- Pokémon Gold and Silver
- Mario Kart Wii
- Super Mario Galaxy
- Kirby’s Adventure
Rest in Peace Mr. Iwata.