It was a very sad day when we learned that President and CEO of Nintendo Satoru Iwata had passed on. It was a huge and sad surprise to find out he had died so suddenly and at the young age of 55. He was very important and likable public figure at Nintendo and all of us fans will miss him. I want to take a moment to write my thoughts about the passing of such an iconic figure of the video game industry. I wanna talk about the day it happened, about some memorable Iwata moments, his life and career, and what he and Nintendo in general mean to me. This article is for you Iwata!!
a great leader
A Sad Day:
Mr. Iwata passed away on July 11 2015. We all found out about it the following day on the 12th of July. I went into Facebook like I do all the time, but was shocked to see a post by Kotaku that announced the passing of Satoru Iwata at age 55. It featured a small statement by Nintendo saying:
"Nintendo Co., Ltd. deeply regrets to announce that President Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11, 2015 due to a bile duct growth"
A day of silence
He died of a bile duct growth, cancer I suppose. And I couldn’t believe it! It was a shock for my friends and me. A few minutes after I found out I got a Facebook message from “G”, and a while later I got a text from “Troche”. Everyone was surprised and saddened by the news. As the day went on I noticed more friends and acquaintances posting their reactions to Iwata’s passing. Every big Nintendo fan I know was surprised by the events that had transpired that day. It affected the entire gaming community because every gaming website you can imagine was posting the news and reacting to it. Fans all over the world were making videos, articles, and fan art [wow, those fan arts hit you right in the heart and right in the soul!]. The Entertainment world as a whole felt the loss because even non-gaming sites were covering the news. Even the “Hollywood Reporter”, a TV and Movie magazine, posted about it online. You could say that the gaming industry and gaming fan base stopped that day. In a way I believe it did stop.
the entire entertainment industry felt his loss
A Bit About Iwata-San:
Chances are that most of you reading this already know quite a bit about Mr. Iwata. And there are always Wikias and other resources that you can go to learn about the life of Iwata. So I will keep this part of the blog post short. Satoru Iwata graduated from the Tokyo Institute of Technology and then got a job at “Hal’s Laboratory”. This video game company would go on to become synonymous with Nintendo. At “Hal” Iwata programmed various games such as Balloon Fight, Earthbound, and Kirby’s Adventure. He migrated to Nintendo’s Main headquarters and slowly worked his way up the food chain. He became the fourth president of Nintendo in 2002 when long time Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi stepped down as president. Iwata oversaw the console and handheld eras of the Gamecube, GBA, Wii, DS, Wii U, and 3DS.
Iwata- The Face of Nintendo:
Most big companies have bosses who don’t show their face for the company. Or when they do we end up learning they are soul-less corporate leaders, boring suits, douchebags in a nice suit and tie, etc. Iwata was none of that. He has been for many years one of Nintendo’s most recognizable faces. He always showed up for big events like “E3”, and was the host of the “Nintendo Direct” videos (for 4 years!) He would introduce the videos and end them as well. He would always bow to the camera and audience and say that Nintendo was addressing their fans by bringing the news DIRECTLY to us. He would always raise his two hands to his head and then extend them towards us.
"directly to you"
Iwata also had a series of Q&A’s called Iwata asks where he would interview Nintendo developers about their upcoming games. He was never afraid to step in front of the camera, or behind a microphone. This fearlessness was definitely a contributing factor in why he became so popular. He was likable, kind of goofy [like so many Nintendo public personalities], and passionate about gaming, games, and gamers.
Classic Iwata Moments:
During his days programming games Iwata was something of a “super programmer”. Shortly before chaning from development to management he worked on Smash Bros Melee. The game was buggy and would not ship in time. Iwata went in and began the debugging process and then oversaw the team finish up the process. He got the game out on time. He also saved Earthbound’s map scrolling feature. Iwata was also responsible for putting the Kanto region into Pokemon Gold and Silver, which seemed impossible due to cartridge space but he made it happen.
He made Kanto possible!
Iwata made it possible for Melee to arrive on time!
Iwata impressed everyone At GDC in 2005 when he gave a keynote speech in English [not his native language of course] and while having a sore throat. It was there where he said his now famous lines, “On my business card I am a corporate president. In my mind I am a game developer. But in my heart I am a gamer”.
"In my mind I am a gamer"
It’s hard to forget when Nintendo revealed the 3DS. Iwata was greeted by Mario who jumped out of the 3DS and placed a mustache on Iwata’s face. Later on he would be sucked into the 3DS where he and Miyamoto where chased by Bowser as Reggie watched and laughed. Don’t worry Reggie got what he deserved. Bowser burned Reggie!
Run Iwata! Run Miyamoto!
And who can forget Miyamoto almost sucking Iwata with the poltergust during the "Year of Luigi"? Or The Non specific action figure recurring joke during the Wii U's first year?
Nintendo loves creating recurring jokes!
Nintendo has had a rough few years recently, partially due to the lack of sales of the Wii U console. In 2013 it seemed like the company would be forced to layoff many employees due to the massive operating loss. Iwata would have no such thing! He did everything he could to keep most if not all of his employees. He even took a 50 percent cut on his paycheck! How many company heads treat their employees this way? Sadly very few! We need more Iwatas in the world!
Iwata, Miyamoto, and Reggie
Nintendo had a pretty good E3 in 2014. They revealed Zelda Wii U for the first time, showed more of Yoshi’s Woolly World, highlighted the first wave of Amiibos, and much much more. But nothing about their E3 was more memorable than the Iwata vs Reggie fight. It was probably the most memorable moment of that entire E3 week. They revealed the existence of Mii Fighters by having Iwata and Reggie [President of Nintendo of America] fight in an over the top live action brawl and then at the end they morphed into miis and thus the mii fighters were revealed. It was so much fun seeing Iwata and Reggie beat the crap out of each other. Reggie punched Iwata and made him spin in the air. Iwata flew into Reggie and hit him in the gut with his head, at one point they punched each other at the ridiculous speed of Dragon Ball Z! Hilarious! Hilarious! Hilarious!
iwata about to face Reggie
Reggie about to face Iwata
Nintendo’s show at E3 2015 was less successful in terms of big reveals than the previous year’s show. But Nintendo never fails to put on a memorable show. Their focus this year was Starfox [and Mario Maker]. They opened up the show with a hilarious segment made with puppets made by Brian Henson and the "Jim Henson Company". Iwata, Reggie, and legendary game developer Shigeru Miyamoto where are played by puppets but voiced by the real people. The puppets transformed into Fox, Falco, and Peppy from Starfox. That was a great way to reveal a game.
Iwata's title card
These 3 were a great trio, especially in puppet form!
Sadly Iwata did not go to that E3. Unknown to us fans he was having health issues at the time. He passed away several weeks after that E3.
Unless I'm mistaken this was Iwata's last E3
Why we love Iwata, in Conclusion:
Iwata was funny, he was quirky, he was fearless, but most of all he was genuine. He showed us who he was. There was transparency and sincerity every time he went on stage and in front of a camera. He was one of those public figures that even though you don’t know him you still get attached to him. He won the hearts of all Nintendo fans, myself included! I will miss Iwata San! I will miss him when I see future Nintendo Directs, and every time E3 comes along. I know Miyamoto, Reggie, Aonuma, Trinen, etc, will continue to do great work. But a part of Nintendo was lost with Iwata’s passing. And we Nintendo fans will never forget the most likable President of any videogame company. Rest in Peace Mr. Iwata. You will be remembered though your public appearances, through your games, and through all the great work you did as president. My condolences to iwata’s family and friends and to all Nintendo Employees!
Rest in Peace Mr. Iwata
Satoru Iwata 1959-2015