Goodnight, sweet prince

Richard-HeuleIn case you haven’t heard, Hiroshi Yamauchi passed away Friday.

For those who weren’t aware of who this man was, he was the president of the Nintendo company from 1949 to 2002.

A lot of you might not really care about this, but anyone who grew up on Super Mario, Zelda, or even Battletoads would be a bit saddened to hear this. It was under this man’s presidency of Nintendo that the world was graced with the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Many video game enthusiasts, as well as historians, consider the NES to be the one single thing that saved the video game industry.

Go back to the 1983, a time when Thriller was still the number-one best-selling album and mullets were cool. With the introduction of the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972, video games were now becoming a thing.

Due to everyone wanting to cash in on this brand-new trend, many people who shouldn’t have made video games tried to.

A lot of them were the same concept rehashed and rebranded, much like modern Call of Duty titles. Eventually people were losing interest in the thought of having a gaming machine at home, and sales began to decline. Wait, did I say decline?

What I mean to say was “dive off a freaking cliff.” Companies went from three billion dollar revenues to only one hundred million, a drop of nearly 97% (thanks Wikipedia). For a short while, it looked like the craze that was video gaming was coming to a close.

And then, out of the deep dark abyss, the Nintendo Entertainment System showed up. Some legends say that it was created in a high security research facility just off the coast of Japan, but tragedy struck when a giant mecha dragon creature blew up the lab, and the only copy left was found by Shigeru Miyamoto while he was walking on the beach.

Illustration by Richard Heule

Illustration by Richard Heule

But real sources say that it was released in North America on October 18, 1985. People were stunned at the fact that the graphics were just like the arcade versions, and it was soon a cultural phenomenon. However, it wouldn’t have seen the light of day if it wasn’t for the planning of Hiroshi Yamauchi.

I was about four when I first encountered the NES. My aunt and uncle had one with a copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Legend of Zelda: The Adventures of Link. They were playing Super Mario when they handed me the controller and said, “Want to try?”

I had no clue what was going on, other than the fact that I was an Italian plumber running through World One with a Raccoon Leaf and a Warp Whistle.

I was immediately glued to it, and it’s safe to assume that it is what really got me into video games. I have spent years of my life playing video games and I don’t see any reason to stop soon.

In some sort of inadvertent way, Hiroshi Yamauchi has influenced me and a whole generation of people.

I’m pretty confident that I wasn’t the only kid in America who grew up jumping through the Mushroom Kingdom and riding through the fields of Hyrule, but people wouldn’t have been introduced to that if it wasn’t for Mr. Yamauchi.

In a way, he is the true creator of the modern video game, and his contributions will not be forgotten.

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