The gaming industry, and the world, lost a hero on July 11. Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo, passed away due to a bile duct growth. He started off his career as a game developer for HAL Industries before transferring to Nintendo in 2000, but has always considered himself to be a gamer, first and foremost. Employees were known to StreetPass him in the office - a feature on the 3DS that allows players to connect and game with others using only Internet connection - and Iwata had a reputation of being kind, soft-spoken, yet innovative and quirky.
Iwata was a rare gem of a man. He cut his own paycheck in half in Wii U sales weren't successful. In his famed keynote speech at the Game Developers Conference in 2005, he stated:
"On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. In my heart, I am a gamer."
Here are his greatest accomplishments:
While he didn't head the programming of the games itself, he was in charge of the digital compression of the games - allowing more gameplay in the Kanto region with more Pokemon to catch.
He also ported over the combat mechanics from the Game Boy Pokemon games to the Nintendo 64 for Pokemon Stadium - and he did it in about a week without any documentation to help him. After hearing this, one of Pokemon's developers, Shigeki Morimoto, asked, "Is that guy a programmer? Or is he the President?"
The Nintendo DS is important to me, personally because without it I wouldn't have sneaked it into class and been the most popular girl in the fourth grade. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but I do credit the DS, and Iwata who was head of the company when it was released, for the friends I made in elementary school. The DS is the best-selling handheld gaming console and the second best-selling gaming console - as of 2014, approximately 154 million DS consoles have been sold.
Kirby's Dream Land
This game was the start of the entire Kirby franchise and modern civilization wouldn't be the same without everyone's favorite pink spherical hero - aside from Jigglypuff, of course. In a touching episode of Iwata Asks, a series where he asks game developers questions about their games, he revealed when he was working on Kirby Dream Land he worked in a building next to a kindergarten and he would see doodles of Kirby;there he recognized the impact of his work.
Iwata wanted to revolutionize the home console; he wanted something more family-oriented, something that wasn't just for hardcore gamers. He believed that everyone should enjoy video games, according to a column he wrote for Los Angeles Times. With that belief, he paved way for the Nintendo Wii, combining family-friendly entertainment with exercise.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Even though he became the corporate director of Nintendo in 2001, Iwata continued to program and work on games - most notably, he worked on debugging and coding Super Smash Bros. Melee and without his help, the game wouldn't have made their deadline. Unfortunately that was the last time he personally worked on a game.