Satoru Iwata, the Nintendo CEO who sadly passed away at the age of 55, was a man of immeasurable influence and creativity that permeated and reverberates through every nuance of the gaming industry today.
Whilst the giants of Microsoft and Sony were embroiled in the now customary battle of frame rates and photo-realistic graphics, Iwata-san's ethos literally changed the way we played games and how we accepted them. His ethos was pure and simple fun, because we have to remember gameplay is possibly the most important component of video games.
Iwata-san began his illustrious career as a humble programmer at HAL Laboratories, where he lent his hand to creating Balloon Fight, and presided over the creation of Mother, EarthBound and the little pink ball of fun Kirby.
Then after years of dutiful service and hard work for HAL, plus even being promoted to the head of the company, in 2002 Hiroshi Yamauchi - Nintendo's then CEO - personally handpicked him as his successor, making Iwata-san Nintendo's fourth president and the first to not come from the Yamauchi family.
The Pull of the PlayStation
Iwata-san helmed Nintendo during one of the companies most difficult periods. Despite the N64, Gamecube and the various iterations of the Game Boy being cult and commercial hits, Sony's timeless PlayStation 2 positively swept the floor with the competition, leaving Nintendo scrapping for second place with Microsoft and their recently released Xbox.
But how would Nintendo go about ushering in a new generation of console, whilst adhering to the orders of ex-president Yamauchi?
Coincidental to my leaving the company, I would like to make one request. That Nintendo give birth to wholly new ideas and create hardware which reflects that ideal.
And make software that adheres to that same standard. Furthermore, this software should attract consumers as new and interesting.
No pressure right? But out of that came, arguably, one of the best consoles of all time - the Wii.
Nintendo and the 5 Best Gaming Consoles of All Time
Nintendo have always been at the forefront of gaming innovation, from battery back-up in cartridges, shoulder buttons on controllers to motion control, somehow they've managed to keep the industry on its toes.
With this fact in mind, it would be clear to see how Nintendo has influenced greatness out of some of the most awe-inspiring consoles of all time. So in honor of the company and its revolutionary leader, let's have a look at some of the best consoles ever to be released and how they were inspired by Nintendo.
5. Nintendo Wii
If a kid puts a game console in the basket of their bicycle, then has to make a sudden stop, the console can come flying out - and it's not going to land on carpet.
So I told [the designers] to make it so it could survive being dropped from 1.5 meters onto concrete. The hardware design team screamed, but proceeded to figure out how to pass the test.
What better way to introduce one of the most imaginative consoles to release, the Wii managed to break down walls between gamers and those who don't game. Literally mums, nans, hippy uncles and people that thought games were a "waste of time", were all clamouring to hurl curses at a particularly heated round of Wii Sports tennis.
People laughed at the Wii, casting it off a mere novelty plastic box. But the little box of joy outsold the PS3 and Xbox 360 by miles, and had some modern icons of gaming frequent its hallowed halls, like Super Mario Galaxy, The Last Story and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. All thanks to the drive and honesty of Satoru Iwata.
Its idea of motion control has been much copied after with both Sony and Microsoft's ill-fated Move and Kinect peripherals. But, as Nintendo have shown, if you actually create interesting, fun and rewarding games for them, they will stick in the public consciousness for more positive reasons.
4. Microsoft Xbox
After the N64 blew people's minds by being the first console to have four player inputs, surprisingly the trend only managed to continue on two consoles after - Sega's Dreamcast and the Xbox.
The original Xbox managed to utilize its borrowed idea to brilliant use with Bungie's thrilling love letter to the now diluted FPS genre Halo: Combat Evolved. The hulking, clumsy yet endearing console was littered with some of the best games of its generation, the majority of them being cross platform. But I still can't get over my first time playing Timesplitters 2 with dual triggers!
3. Sega Dreamcast
Vastly, vastly underrated, this genius of a console was far ahead of its time. It was the first console to have seamless online play - whatup Phantasy Star Online? You could browse the internet on it, it introduced the world to Shenmue - which was also way ahead of its time - and Soul Calibur... what a game! What a console.
After Nintendo's genius N64 controller and its little rumble pak/memory card slot, this peripheral design became commonplace in gaming hardware, with the Dreamcast's VMU, PS3's DualShock 3 keyboard and various other little holes and ports in the controllers to come.
2. Sony PlayStation 2
There was always a stark reality juxtaposed with a hint of futurism when comparing Nintendo and Sony. The PlayStation was one of the first consoles to use disc - the other was Sega Saturn, which also released in '95.
Not only did the console drag us out of the wonderfully cartoony and family friendly world of Nintendo's cartridge'd behemoths, the wonderfully well rounded PSX introduced us to a whole new world of storytelling.
Then along came the PS2, with its even more wonderfully well rounded library of almost 2000 games. Still the highest selling console of all time, if it wasn't for Nintendo's backstabbing antics back in the early '90s, the world wouldn't have the glory of the PlayStation brand. So... thanks, Nintendo...?
1. Nintendo 64
The console that birthed a plethora of iconic video games, and many an incredible summer vacation. The N64 was the quintessential console of many and my childhood(s).
Though it did suffer a bit by having an astronomically high price at release, and continued the cartridge trend, the N64 brought us one of the first - and greatest - console FPS' ever, the Rumble Pak, its 3D stick changed the way we navigate 3D environments and, frigging, Ocarina of Time.
And before I forget, Perfect Dark's version of Goldeneye 007's Temple multiplayer map, where you could jump down the hole in the maze's centre...
These are just a, relative, handful of some of the greatest things Nintendo have given to games, and other companies have run with.
Nintendo zealots, the gaming industry and anyone with an avid or passing interest in games have felt Iwata-san's influence, and it's with a heavy heart that I write this article. Nintendo were an incredible company before Iwata-san's helm, and, under his tutelage, have grown into one of the biggest companies in Japan.
Thank you, Iwata-san, for all the fun, the imagination and dedication you poured into your work. We'll keep the fun ticking over for you!
(Sources: Eurogamer, WhatCulture, NeoGaf, Kotaku, IGN, For Iwata by 0rionsangel)