Satoru Iwata: The Leader Behind Nintendo’s Success

Satoru Iwata: The Leader Behind Nintendo’s Success

Some say that it sucks when people give a person more respect in death than they do in life. I, unfortunately, am one of those people, especially after hearing the sad news of the sudden passing of one of gaming’s greats: Satoru Iwata. He died on July 11th at the age of 55 of a bile duct tumor that was supposedly eviscerated last year.

Iwata was CEO and President of Nintendo Co. Ltd. since 2002, succeeding Hiroshi Yamauchi, the company’s president since 1949. He was the first Nintendo president not related to Nintendo’s founding Yamauchi family by blood or marriage. He became a consultant to HAL Laboratory, the game developer he worked as a programmer after graduating from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and that worked closely with Nintendo on Kirby, EarthBound, and the Super Smash Bros. series. At the time Iwata was promoted as president and CEO, Nintendo wasn’t performing as financially well as other console producers, with their GameCube selling poorly in comparison with Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Microsoft’s Xbox. In 2005, Iwata helped Nintendo revitalize their handheld system, transitioning from the Game Boy to the Nintendo DS, which introduced the touchscreen (before Apple did with their iPod Touch!) and allowed for more novel games to be played on it. A year later, he introduced motion control-based gaming via the Wii, the console that nearly doubled Nintendo’s stock price. When Nintendo’s finances plummeted in 2009–we were still going through the Great Recession at this point–Iwata curtailed his salary in half to help the company’s poor finances and to better compete with Microsoft and Sony. In 2011, in order to help Nintendo improve public relations with its fans, Iwata instituted Nintendo Direct, a series of press conferences open to everybody that revealed upcoming Nintendo games and products outside of typical industry channels, which are often done in a quirky, humorous manner, like the mock fight between him and Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé. I never watched any Nintendo Direct conferences on YouTube, but I am pretty aware of them. Earlier this year, as the sales of traditional home consoles were falling, Iwata placed part of Nintendo’s focus on the fast-growing mobile game market, creating a partnership with mobile provider DeNA to publish titles.

As news of Iwata’s passing quickly spread throughout the gaming community, art tributes were posted on Twitter, Tumblr, etc. with the hashtag #ThankYouIwata as symbols of their appreciation for his creativity and his passion for gaming, and his accomplishments because of it. Here are my two favorite pieces:

by Namie
by Namie
by Alex "Axel" Irish
by Alex “Axel” Irish

Forget about what I said in the beginning of this entry. It turns out I have been appreciating Iwata’s work the entire time by playing on the consoles he helped to create–the Nintendo GameCube, the Game Boy Advanced SP, the Wii, and the Nintendo 3DS. I even appreciated his suggestion of bringing Mario and Sonic together in Nintendo’s Olympic games series. Here’s the link to the EU Nintendo Direct footage of Satoru Iwata explaining Mario & Sonic at the Sochi Winter Games: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI73qViGuTU

I hope that either Shigeru Miyamoto or Genyo Takeda (mostly Miyamoto) will do a great job filling Iwata’s position as President and CEO of Nintendo. Still, there will never be another man with the same brilliant mind and spark of creativity and passion as Satoru Iwata. May he rest in peace.

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Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice (Seriously, SEGA?)

Before I delve into my rant about the Sonic Boom series, let me tell you the story about my Sonic the Hedgehog fandom.

In 2nd Grade, on a rainy Friday night in April 2002, my parents–well, my mother and stepdad, whom she was engaged to at the time–took me and my brother to Circuit City to buy Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on DVD. While they were looking for it, I ventured to the video game department to play some demos of whatever game was out or going to hit the market in the near future. I walked over to the Nintendo GameCube, which was spinning the demo versions of its latest games, including Sonic Adventure 2, which was ported over to the console from the SEGA Dreamcast. A blond boy, who appeared to be at least 12 or 13, showed up and picked Sonic Adventure 2 from the roulette by chance, and we started to play it. In multiplayer mode, I played as Amy Rose while the blond kid played as Shadow the Hedgehog. We played in City Escape and it seemed Blond Boy understood the control schematics of the GameCube better than I did. He was able to snowboard (or in this case, streetboard) down the steep hills and pull off stunts as soon as he jumped off the ramps, while I, a naïve 8-year-old girl with Asperger’s syndrome, had a somewhat difficult controlling my character because it was brand new to me. Blond Boy beat me gracefully–he did use Chaos Control on me–and I got steaming mad. I wouldn’t have yelled “Fight fair!” to him had he had the time to teach me how to use the GameCube controller more effectively.

Eighteen months passed, and a couple days after Halloween, my cousin reintroduced me to Sonic Adventure 2, and I fell in love with it–especially Sonic (and Shadow, who I despised at first).

The following Sonic games I have in my possession, in the order I acquired them, are:
– Sonic Advance 3
– Sonic Heroes
– Shadow the Hedgehog
– Sonic Riders
– Sonic Advance 2
– Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity
– Sonic Unleashed
– Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games
– Sonic and the Black Knight
– Sonic Colors
– Sonic and the Secret Rings
– Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing
– Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
– Sonic the Hedgehog 2
– Sonic Lost World

Although some of the games were given harsh criticism, Sonic has been with me through a lot of hardships: attempting to pass the 3rd Grade a second time, my father’s death by liver cancer, Hurricane Wilma, getting bullied in elementary and middle school, moving to another neighborhood, SAT/ACT prep, and even my breakup with Jack.

So, when I heard about Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice and watched the trailer for it on YouTube hours before my flight to New York three days ago, I–as much as I love Sonic–felt the need to bash my head against the wall of my bedroom. Why? Last year, when Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric was released, I thought it was gonna be fine. But then, rage broke out all over the Internet–Twitter, Twitch, you name it. As soon as people started playing the game on the Wii U and live-streaming it, they all decried its mediocre graphics, abysmal writing, and the multifarious glitches. Need I remind you of Knuckles’s infinite jump? They even dubbed Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric the new Sonic ’06 (which I don’t have). Sonic ’06 had some glitches, but Rise of Lyric was ten times worse. Shattered Crystal for the Nintendo 3DS was just as bad (thank God I didn’t even bother buying it). No one believed that SEGA would allow a terrible Sonic game to see the light day. Not to mention, hand production of the Sonic Boom games to another company that wasn’t affiliated with them at all. That company is Big Red Button.

Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice will be exclusively for the 3DS, and although the graphics may have improved a bit–it is being produced by Sanzaru–I don’t plan on buying it when it’s released next spring. I love Sonic games, but not the Boom branch.