One Year On: Remembering Satoru Iwata

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It is hard to believe that it has been a year since late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata passed away. I was still awake when Nintendo shared the news, and, while still coming to terms with the loss of my Grandad weeks before, I have no shame in saying that, at the time, the two events proved too much to bear.

I was incredibly emotional that day, and I soon lost count of the number of times that I uncontrollably burst into tears. While still reeling from the loss of a man who had always championed pursuing whatever made me happiest, we lost another who made it his mission to help raise smiles around the world. I was devastated.

By chance, I can be thankful that I had the day booked off as annual leave from work, not that I can remember the reason why. But, while I tried to come to terms with the blackened cloud that will forever loom over July 2015, a rainbow defiantly shone over Nintendo’s headquarters in Kyoto.

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There was much to take comfort in that day, and that most remarkably came from the Nintendo community. United in their sudden shock and grief, the outpouring of love and support was as equally overwhelming. Anecdotes, art, and tributes poured forth online, recounting Iwata-san’s extraordinary life.

His legacy will live on, and, while Nintendo has said that this past year was one of transition, it was Genyo Takeda’s eulogy that perfectly encapsulated how his journey was far from over.

“Please know, however, that the seeds you have planted, and the plants that have sprouted will put forth small flowers as they bring smiles to the faces of people around the world, blossom into a grand flower bigger than even you, our leader, Iwata-san,” Takeda shared. “Together with Miyamoto and others of our generation, we swear in our hearts that we will continue our efforts so that, someday, we can report and present to you the blossoming of these flowers. May you continuously watch over and guide us managers, our employees and your family.”

We have certainly seen some of those seeds sprout, whether that be in Miitomo, the Nintendo EAD and SPD merger, and the business alliance with DeNA. Many games that Iwata-san had a hand in have continued to see release, a heartfelt tribute even having appeared in Star Fox Zero.

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His passing has certainly brought challenges. Nintendo NX is still shrouded in secrecy after launch plans suffered a delay to March 2017, Iwata Asks without a regular replacement, and we aren’t seeing nearly as many Nintendo Direct presentations.

That all points toward a concerted effort to make sure that Nintendo NX is a success, projects switching platform to build a steady string of releases while marketing is planned to perfection to avoid the mixed messaging that hampered Wii U early on.

But while we wait for Nintendo NX’s coming out party, it is a poignant moment to once again give thanks for everything that Iwata-san achieved in his lifetime. While it may be a year since he passed away, we still haven’t seen everything that was planned in his closing chapter. That he still has chance to raise another smile is something to be excited and thankful for. Thank you, Iwata-san.

Written by

After starting out with a Yellow Game Boy and a copy of Donkey Kong Land, Alex once hid in his room to play The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time one Christmas. Now he shares his thoughts on Nintendo Insider, keeping track of everything to do with Nintendo.

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