In the wake of Satoru Iwata’s untimely death, Game Center CX producer Kan Tsuyoshi has shared his memories of when the late Nintendo president had visited the show to play Balloon Fight with presenter Arino.
Within his Nikkan Amusement column (translated by Greg Lescoe), Tsuyoshi reveals how shocked they were by his request to visit their small office, and that they rented a vacant office downstairs as his waiting room for the day to keep his appearance a surprise.
He reveals how his impression of Iwata was “one of generosity and refinement,” that his visit was “such an incredible encouragement,” and how he regrets that they never had chance to arrange a second visit. Rest in peace, Iwata-san.
The column in entirety is as follows:
“Last Friday, I attended the funeral of Nintendo’s corporate president, Satoru Iwata. It was the same day as the Yamahoko float procession of the Gion Matsuri, and a typhoon was passing through at the time as well. I must admit, despite the fact that I was attending a funeral, I did secretly have my 3DS with me.
“President Iwata’s various contributions and his charisma have been well covered in various media by this point, so I feel that there’s no real need to write about them here. Instead, I’d like to share a little story about the time that he visited our TV show.
“Three years ago, an interview between President Iwata and Arino was arranged for our show, for viewing on the Nintendo eShop. Naturally, being us, we assumed that it would obviously be shot at Nintendo’s corporate headquarters in Kyoto, so we were shocked to find out that he was going to be coming here.
“…What? We don’t even have our own building!”
“Our organisation, Gascoin Company, was located in a pretty small office at the time (I say as though we’re in a large office now…), and the office was full of the specialised equipment you’d expect to find scattered around a production company — just a hair’s breadth away from a hoarder’s house. The thought that the head of a world-class company would be coming to visit a place that looked like this was enough to cause an uproar throughout our entire staff.
“We’re really going to do this here?”
“We checked to make sure time after time, but every time we asked, we were told that President Iwata thought that it would be fine for everything to just be the way it usually is for when he visited. And, on top of that, he wanted us to keep his visit a secret from Arino. He always seemed to be thinking about how he could surprise people and make them happy. In the end, our plan was this: we would rent the entire vacant office downstairs for one day, for him to use as his waiting room.
“When the day of the interview came, we put a table and a chair in this big empty office, and the head of Nintendo just waited there, with a great big smile on his face. I still feel bad about that, but it was also a really happy, triumphant moment. My impression of him was one of generosity and refinement, and I still remember his slightly high voice, and the incredibly smart and funny things he said.
“At the beginning of his conversation with Arino…
Iwata: “As president and chief… [shacho-kacho]”
Arino: “Even better than Assistant Manager and Chief [Jicho-kacho]!” [laughs]
“The two enjoyed playing Balloon Fight. President Iwata enjoyed seeing Arino’s unsuccessful tries. When he told us about how, if he had the chance, he’d like to make a game by himself one more time, you could really hear the game creator in him talking. I still remember Arino talking after we finished about how, even after almost ten years of making a show about video games, he could still have a great time like this. It was such an incredible encouragement to us, that President Iwata would come visit us at our little company, where we make our little TV show.
“Mr. Iwata, I’m so sorry about how we made you wait in that office when you visited. At the same time, though, our whole staff was so happy. It was shortly after your visit that our company moved offices, because we wanted to make sure that the next time you visited, we could have a proper waiting room ready for you. We really wanted you to drop by again to play games with us, and it’s an incredible shame that it’ll never be able to happen. These games that we get the chance to play will be your legacy. Thank you.”