We know the faces of Link, Samus, and the rest of Nintendo's franchises well, but what about their creators? Nintendo is a company full of interesting people, some of which we all know well. That's not to say that everyone is so familiar with them, though. That's why I'm putting this article together - to introduce those who may not be so familiar with Nintendo's staff to the people who help make the games a reality.
Born: November 16, 1952 in Kyoto, Japan
Positions held: Game Director, Game Producer, Character Artist, Game designer, EAD General Manager
Notable contributions: Mario, Donkey Kong, Star Fox, Pikmin, Zelda, F-Zero, Wii series
Family: Yasuko Miyamoto (wife) and 2 children.
Quote: "Video games are bad for you? That's what they said about Rock and Roll!"
Shigeru Miyamoto is a bright a cheerful man. In fact, I can't note s single occasion - a photo, an event....any time at all that he's had anything other than a smile on his face. To begin with, Miyamoto made artwork for Nintendo's arcade machines. When Nintendo decided to bring its machines to America, they needed a fresh new concept and asked Miyamoto to help. He came up with many crazy plots and characters, but ultimately went with a love triangle between a plumber, an ape and a girl. This of course became Donkey Kong, and the rest, as they say, is history. after the success of Donkey Kong, Miyamoto made 2 sequels and then began to rework, and further flesh out the characters. "Jumpman", the carpenter controlled in Donkey Kong became Mario. He then conceptualized a brother for him named Luigi, and created the game "Mario Bros."
Alongside his good friend and work mate, Gunpei Yokoi, Miyamoto went on to work on several of Nintendo's games including Ice Climber. He soon pumped out yet another Mario game, "Super Mario Bros.", shortly after which eh began plans for a new game which would become "The Legend of Zelda", inspired by his childhood memories of exploring the forests on Kyoto. This was not the last time Miyamoto would be inspired by his everyday life. The "Pikmin" series of games was inspired while observing ants in his garden. The name Pikmin is even derived from the name of his dog, Pik!
Miyamoto's console games tended to focus on an adventure or goal rather than high scores. This concept soon became standard for not only Nintendo, but gaming as a whole. Through his creativity and innovation, Miyamoto has changed the face of gaming, and even given it new life. Some of his more recent projects include "Super Mario 3D Land" and "The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword". His biggest current project is Pikmin 3, which will be released for the upcoming Nintendo Wii U.
Born: Sometime in 1963, Somewhere in Japan
Positions held: Director and producer of video games at Nintendo, EAD Software Development Group No. 3 manager/producer
Notable contributions: Oversees production of the Zelda series.
Quote:"Miyamoto-san tells me to say that I really respect Miyamoto-san."[when asked which game designer he respects most]
Eiji Aonuma has become a major player in the Zelda series. While his first job for Nintendo was just creating sprites, Miyamoto personally invited him to help create "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time". Since then, he has overseen all major Zelda projects from Majora's Mask to Skyward Sword. He is also a member of a band called "The Wind Wakers". Eiji is a very quiet individual it seems, and very good at keeping secrets - especially those pertaining to the Zelda series.
Quote: “The game has changed, ... and the way the game is played has to be changed.”
Satoru Iwata began his career by doing freelance jobs for HAL Laboratory (makes of Super Smash Bros. and Kirby). Eventually, he went to work for them full time, and worked on a couple of Nintendo games. In 2000 he took the seat as Nintendo's 4th president after Hiroshi Yamauchi retired. This was kind of a big deal at Nintendo, as Iwata was the first president of the company that was not related to the Yamauchi family by either blood or marriage. While he still does artwork for HAL's Kirby series, his current projects are the 3DS and Wii U. Satoru Iwata must have learned from Miyamoto the art of being perpetually happy, as I can not recall ever seeing him without a big smile either. He is also apparently Reggie-Fils-Aime's father.
Notable contributions: Many tracks for many Nintendo games
Koji Kondo is a composer and has created hundreds of songs for many Nintendo games, most notably the Mario and Zelda series. Many of his songs have become legendary, and he is sure to continue producing quality music for us to enjoy rather we're playing a game featuring his work or listening to it by other means.
Born: September 10, 1941 in Kyoto, Japan
Died: October 4, 1997
Positions held: ?
Notable contributions: Nintendo Game & Watch, Nintendo Gameboy, Metroid, Kid Icarus, R.O.B.
Quote: [by Howard Lincoln] "He [Gunpei] had a great sense of humor, a great smile... a very generous and outgoing fellow. He made a tremendous amount of creative contributions to Nintendo and the video game business over the years. People play Game Boy all over the world, and that's Mr. Yokoi's."
Gunpei Yokoi was hired when Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi discovered his inventions - an extending toy hand. This eventually became the Nintendo Ultrahand, of course. Gunpei went on to create many Nintendo devices, including R.O.B., the Game and Watch system, the Metroid and Kid Icarus games and most notably the Nintendo Gameboy. Gunpei also worked closely with Miyamoto on a few projects. Gunpei Yokoi's influence is undeniable, especially in the realm of the handheld video game market. Unfortunately, Yokoi met with an untimely and tragic death. After he was rear ended on the Hokuriku Expressway, he stepped out of his vehicle to inspect the damage when a passing car struck and fatally injured him. He was pronounced dead 2 hours later. 1997 was a great year for gaming, with releases such as Final Fantasy VII, and Goldeneye 007 but we also lost one of gaming's most important and influential masterminds that year. Gunpei's legacy lives on through Nintendo's DS and 3DS line, and will certainly continue to thrive in the future.
Born: August 23, 1967 in Tokyo, Japan
Positions held: Composer, voice actor
Instruments: Piano, Guitar, Bass, Vibraphone
Notable contributions: voice of Yoshi, likeness of K.K. Slider, and numerous Nintendo compositions
Quote:"Wa-wa-wa-wahooo!" [as Yoshi]
Totaka began work for Nintendo as a composer in 1991. He has since composed several soundtracks, including the soundtrack to Mario Paint and Animal Crossing. He also composed the main theme of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. He must truly be an amazing musician with all of K.K. Slider's songs under his belt. Can you imagine someone asking you to create a song in over 50 different genres for 1 game? In fact, Totakeke (K.K. Slider) is a persona on Totaka, said to be base doff of a caricature of him. Totaka hides a rift called Totaka's Song in almost every game he works on. Hoe many games have you found it in?
Born: August 3, 1970 in Tokyo, Japan
Positions held: Video game director, designer
Notable contributions: Super Smash Bros., Kirby, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Meteos
Quote: "No sequel from me!" [said multiple times...was a lie every time]
Masahiro Sakurai began his career by creating the Kirby series and went on to create Super Smash Bros. The later of these 2 has gained him a lot of respect as a game designer. Though he always says every game he makes is going to be the last in whatever series it is, he always returns to make a sequel to it eventually. His current projects include Super Smash Bros. 3DS and Super Smash Bros. Wii U, which are rumored to be compatible somehow.
Born: March 35, 1961 somewhere in the United States
Position's held: President and COO of Nintendo of America
Notable contributions: Making sure everyone's body is ready
Family: Stacey Fils-Aime (wife), 3 children
Quote: "My name is Reggie. I'm about kickin' ass, I'm about takin' names, and we're about makin' games."
Reggie is Nintendo of America's charismatic figurehead. the first time most of us got a glimpse of his big bushy head was during E3 of 2007. Reggie's main job is promotion, and promote he does. If there is one thing I can say about Reggie it's that I think he genuinely enjoys his job. I don't think any of that charisma we see from his is staged. But no matter what anyone thinks, there is one thing we all know...his body will always be more ready than our will ever be.
Positions held:Localization Manager, Nintendo of America
Notable contributions: Translating some of Nintendo's most text heavy games more effectively than anyone else possibly could.
Quote: "Smile, because [Super Smash Bros.] endures, and it is good."
I'm going to close out with someone who is very ebhind the scenes - Nathan Bihldorff. I'm gonna be honest, I think his job sounds incredibly boring. Boy am I glad he's so good at it though! Nate translates games from the Japanese language to the English language, swapping cultural references and other such things as well. the Mario & Luigi, Paper Mario and Animal Crossing series are some of his most notable works. Ne must truly have a mastery of both the English and Japanese languages to do what he has done. The script of all of these series are amazing, and this is the guy to thank!
So, there you have just a few of the faces behind the big N. There are hundreds of employees working for Nintendo of course, and I'd like to thank all of them. rather you're pumping out master pieces like Miyamoto, translating games into relevant languages like Nate, or even just answering the phone when my system won't work, thank you employees of Nintendo.
This article is dedicated to the memory of Gunpei Yokoi (September 10, 1941-October 4, 1997). Your contribution to Nintendo and gaming as a whole shall never be forgotten. You have been and will continue to be missed by gamers around the world. We are left to marvel at your legacy and what could have come had your survived. May your work in Heaven produce as many smiles as did your work on Earth.
How you could talk about Reggie and not mention "My body is ready" is beyond me.
when you really think of the impact these guys have had on the video game world, its unbelievable how far we have come from the days of the NES and before, to the launch of Nintendo's first portable 3d system. Amazing! And thank you SG64 for posting this, truly amazing