Alongside its latest investor report, Nintendo has announced that Genyo Takeda, one of the company’s longest tenured and most influential designers, is retiring at the end of June. Currently working as a “representative director and technology fellow,” the 68-year-old Takeda joined Nintendo in 1972 and played a huge role in the company’s transition into the video game business. He assisted Game Boy creator Gunpei Yokoi in the development of the Laser Clay Shooting System, an electronic gun range that was the ancestor of light-gun games like Duck Hunt. According to legend, when the machines broke down on opening day, it was Takeda who jumped behind the scenes and manually adjusted players’ scores to keep things moving. Two years later, he’d create EVR Race, Nintendo’s second arcade machine and first ever traditional video game.
As a game designer, Takeda’s best known work came during the ’80s, when he led the development of the Punch-Out!! and StarTropics series, but his most lasting achievements are as a hardware designer. He’s often credited with the invention of the battery back-up system which allowed players to save their progress in games like The Legend Of Zelda, as well as the Nintendo 64’s analog stick, which set a precedent for how players would control 3-D games that has lasted to this day.
He was also one of the guiding lights behind the Nintendo Wii and its unconventional motion controls. Takeda argued that the traditional path of making games flashier and more complicated didn’t do anything to improve the experience of players, and instead, Nintendo should focus on experiences that were different and more accessible. Considering the Wii went on to become a phenomenon and sell more than 100 million units, he might have been on to something. Takeda’s Technology Fellow role will be filled by Ko Shiota, who collaborated with the departing designer on both the Wii and Wii U.