A salute to Nintendo’s Genyo Takeda, retiring after 45 years of innovation in gaming

Few at Nintendo can say they saw the company’s start as a video game company, and fewer still have had as much influence as Genyo Takeda, co-creator of several of the company’s most memorable (and durable) innovations. He’s retiring today, and I just wanted to mark the occasion.

The retirement was quietly announced in rather perfunctory form as part of Nintendo’s financial results, but Eurogamer noticed and put together a little retrospective.

Takeda started at the company back in the early ’70s, before it had created its first true video game — EVR Race, which Takeda designed. In fact, Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto and the much-missed Satoru Iwata jointly conferred on him the title of “Nintendo’s first game designer” — even though EVR Race apparently broke down constantly.

It was Takeda who was responsible for the battery save capability in the original Legend of Zelda, which if you’re old enough to remember it, was an enormous advance compared with the cumbersome password systems of Mega Man and Metroid. So you can thank him for that.

And if you’ve played N64 recently, you might be surprised to find how responsive and sturdy the analog sticks on the controllers still are. He designed those, too — one of the first and strongest examples of a foundational gameplay tool in constant use today.

He also had a hand in designing the Wii, the motion controls of which were a revelation for millions of new gamers — and the Wii U, which, despite being remembered as something of a failure to launch, was actually a pretty great idea and clearly the genesis for the Switch.

It’s people like Takeda who have surely helped Nintendo stay true to itself, for better and for worse, over the years. That many years in an industry (45 is surely among the top scores at Nintendo) brings with it perspective on what persists through the decades when it comes to the business of making things fun.

Thanks for your hard work, Genyo Takeda! And enjoy retirement.