5 Ways Nintendo and Satoru Iwata Changed Gaming

An industry mourns

Nintendo’s CEO and president Satoru Iwata died over the weekend from a long time battle with Cancer, and the news has absolutely devastated gamers worldwide. Satoru was more than the man who ran the company, he was an innovator, a coder, and most importantly a gamer.

Starting off as a talented programmer, Iwata worked for Nintedo’s HAL laboratories in the 80s, eventually working his way to become the company’s president/CEO. A man who believed that video games should be “Fun! Fun for everyone”, he took an unconventional approach to gaming so that gaming could be accessible to people of every age, — gamers or non-gamers alike.

To understand why this man was so beloved by everyone in the gaming industry, take a look into some of Iwata’s achievements over the years, and how they changed the industry forever.

Memorable Characters

Through the 30 years that Satoru Iwata spent at Nintendo, him and his team were responsible for creating some of the company’s most memorable characters.


As a programmer, one of Iwata’s first major jobs at the HAL laboratory was developing Nintendo’s simple sidescroller Balloon Fight


The HAL laboratories created the iconic pink puff-ball Kirby while Iwata was a programmer.


The awkward and hilarious Mii people came as a result of the Wii console.

The Super Smash Bros Franchise

The HAL laboratories created one of the most played multi-character fighting games, — found in frat houses and college dorms everywhere.



Handheld Gaming

From 1989 to today, the Gameboy, Gameboy Color and Nintendo DS series started a mobile gaming revolution. For the first time ever, you could now play video games on the go. With mobile gaming on our smartphones today it might not seem like that big of a deal, but at the time it was monumental. Who didn’t own one of these?


Nintendo Wii

The Nintendo Wii challenged the idea that video games were for “lazy people”. Simple and fun for everyone, the Wii brought gaming to life with the movement sensing Wii Remote + “Nun chuck”. Selling more than 100 million consoles worldwide, the Nintendo Wii is one of the highest selling consoles of all time.


Expanding a Legacy

Iwata and Nintendo has created and built upon the most legendary characters of all time. While he may not have been responsible for their invention specifically, Iwata oversaw development of multiple expansions Nintendo’s most famous franchises: Metroid, Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, to name a few.


Speaking at the 2005 Game Developers Conference Satoru Iwata said: “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“. That’s how we’ll remember you. #ThankYouIwata

(Main Photo Courtesy of Vincent Diamante via Flickr)