15 years on: RIP Gunpei Yokoi
The year 1997 was a year in which there were a number of high-profile deaths. The world mourned as Diana Princess of Wales died on the 31st August, they bowed their head in respect as Mother Teresa died on the 5th September, the world of film lost the great James Stewart on the 2nd July whilst the world of music lost Jeff Buckley on the 29th May. Yet it was the Video games industry who lost a true great on the 4th October 1997 as Gunpei Yokoi was struck by a car and died a few hours later aged 56.
Think of the great minds behind the modern-day industry and quicker than you can say “Miyamoto” someone will say “Yokoi” and I don’t blame them. He was the genius behind Game and Watch as well as the Game Boy, he was also behind the wonderous robot known as ROB. He also was one of the producers for some of the best games ever: Donkey Kong, Metroid, Mario Bros, Kid Icarus, Super Mario Land and Doctor Mario. Oh and he pretty much came up with the D-pad which is not bad at all. Sadly his tenure is marred by the Virtual Boy but I think this quote from Nintendo after his resignation covers it nicely:
“It is reality that Mr. Yokoi has indeed left, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the failure of the Virtual Boy. There’s no doubt that the Virtual Boy was a failure, but the head of the company himself has said that the blame for that rests on the decision to sell it to begin with. The D-pad and Game Boy that Mr. Yokoi developed are incredible. Such a man taking the blame for the 32-bit device and leaving the company is completely made up.”
It stands a testament today that Kid Icarus is returning, ROB has a cult following, Metroid goes from strength to strength and Nintendo is still at the forefront of handheld gaming.
RIP Gunpei Yokoi.