Today is a sad day in the video game world as it marks the death of longtime president of Nintendo Hiroshi Yamauchi. Acting as president for over 50 years, Yamauchi is the man behind many of Nintendo's greatest electronic innovations over the years. Rather than mourn his death, lets celebrate his life with a walk down pixelated memory road and rediscover the awesome legacy of Nintendo's Hiroshi Yamauchi
The Toy Era
Before Nintendo even got into the video game biz, the company was a playing cards manufacture. Yamauchi decided to take Nintendo's focus away from flimsy paper and into plastic, shifting the company's focus onto actual toys and games. One of many projects pushed by Yamauchi, which we have all grown to love, is the classic Love Tester. The first actual electronic sold by Nintendo, the Love Tester was a hit in Japan and modern iterations can be still be found in bars everywhere, weeding out the love machines from the wet noodles.
The Early Electronic Era
When Atari began making electronic games, Yamauchi saw huge potential in electronic gaming industry. Under Yamauchi's expert guidance, Nintendo began making electronic games in Japan and gained a foothold in the American arcade scene. Thanks to Yamauchi, North America got to grow to love the classic arcade title "Donkey Kong" which originally introduced two of gaming's best known stars: Mario and DK.
The Pixel Era
As electronics became more sophistaced, Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System, known as the Famicom in Japan. The NES's huge success led to its predecessor, the Super NES, and the slew of great games which came from both systems. During both console's lifetimes Yamauchi decided it was artists, and not technicians, who would create great games. Yamauchi was right, and for his faith in artistic video game designers, we have him to thank for classic titles like Super Mario Bros., Zelda, Star Fox, and many others.
The Digital Era
Never one behind the times, Yamauchi led Nintendo into the era of 3-dimensional graphics, initially with the Nintendo 64. No one needs to be reminded of the awesome that was the N64, and the vast amount of hours spent playing games like Super Mario World 64 and the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, games still revered today.
Under Yamauchi's continued guidance, Nintendo continued to succeed and released the Nintendo GameCube. Not as graphically powerful as its competitors the Xbox and Playstation 2, the GameCube remained the least expensive console and the only one specifically for gaming, two precepts ordered by Yamauchi. The GameCube did mark Nintendo's displacement as definite top-dog of the videogame market, but you can't deny the greatness of titles like Wind Waker, Pikmin, and Super Smash Bros. Melee.
In 2002 Yamauchi stepped down as president of Nintendo, passing on the title to Satoru Iwata. Today, Yamauchi may have passed on, but we will forever remember the hours of gaming he helped us to enjoy. A toast to a gaming hero.
P.S. He also owned the Seattle Mariners for a while. Guess he was a baseball fan too.