News Article

Today Would Have Been Gunpei Yokoi's 71st Birthday

Posted by Damien McFerran

Play a game of Tetris in his honour

Gunpei Yokoi was one of Nintendo's original star employees. His inventions made the company millions, with the Game & Watch series kick-starting a period of portable dominance for the firm which was cemented further by the launch of the insanely successful Game Boy - possibly Yokoi's most enduring legacy.

Sadly, Yokoi was killed in a traffic accident fifteen years ago at the age of 56. By this time, he had left Nintendo following the catastrophic commercial performance of his Virtual Boy console. September 10th 2012 marks what would have been Yokoi's 71st birthday, a day he was sadly never destined to see.

Whatever you're up to today, make sure you take a moment to remember just how huge a difference Yokoi's creations have made to your life - even if you're too young to remember the original Game Boy, all of the new handhelds you've played in your lifetime have been influenced by him in some way - and acknowledge his amazing contribution to the modern video game industry.

Thanks go to Pocket Gamer for reminding us of this event.

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User Comments (39)

misswliu81

#2

misswliu81 said:

he also produced metroid and kid icarus and so we ought to thank him for creating those franchises, which made their debut on the NES.

Kyloctopus

#5

Kyloctopus said:

Wasn't he one of the lead creators of not only the Donkey Kong series, but also the first 2 Mario Land titles?

GuardianKing

#6

GuardianKing said:

Happy Birthday Yokoi! I'll forever be grateful for your legacy, which my childhood infinitely awesomer (end GBC/pre-GBA KID) :')

Tasuki

#8

Tasuki said:

I think I will break out the Virtual Boy today and pay a round of Mario Tennis and Mario Clash in his honor.

TheAmazingRaccoon

#10

TheAmazingRaccoon said:

I still use the case for my original gameboy (which was the original one), I use it for my GBASP. You changed my life Yokoi.

bezerker99

#12

bezerker99 said:

My dad used to play Tetris on my original Gameboy every afternoon in his truck while waiting to pick me up after school. Tetris on Gameboy is the ONLY game my dad has ever shown interest in. Thanks, Gunpei Yokoi for being awesome!!!

Hokori

#13

Hokori said:

I'll play my ambassador Metroid game, my DSiWare G&W titles, my VC Mario land 1 and 2, Kid Icarus OMAM, Metroid II, and my 3DS classics Kid Icarus

aaronsullivan

#17

aaronsullivan said:

I'll remember Gunpei Yokoi for the rest of my life on the merits of Metroid alone, one of a few perfect storms in the history of gaming.

Was disappointed that Metroid wasn't mentioned in the article. I hope Metroid gets a rebirth of sorts with a knock-out-of-the-park title on the 3DS and/or Wii U. It needs a shot in the arm after the Metroid: Other M reactions.

It's gratifying to see Kid Icarus reinvented as its own thing. I'd also like to see that "go console" on the Wii U, but Smash Bros. seems to be forcing it to the back burner. A real shame as far as I'm concerned.

3DS is sort of Virtual Boy revisited and it's interesting that the 3D part isn't quite pushing things as much as the games and the power. I like 3D, but it just keeps coming up short. So sad that Gunpei Yokoi left Nintendo after that failure. Even this far out 3D isn't quite where it needs to be for mass acceptance. Higher frame rates and glasses-free without compromise is a tough nut to crack at this point. I remember "virtual reality" in the 90s. The potential was high and the concept was simple. The execution has been elusive and Gunpei Yokoi was in the middle of that with the Virtual Boy.

GeminiSaint

#18

GeminiSaint said:

Tetris? Metroid II would be more fitting: a Gunpei Yokoi game on a Gunpei Yokoi handheld.

WhiteTrashGuy

#20

WhiteTrashGuy said:

I just put 2 new AA's into the GBC yesterday. Looks like some Tetris is in order. Happy Birthday, Yokoi San.

NES_64

#21

NES_64 said:

Don't believe he left on the failure of the Virtual Boy because before he left he give us the Game Boy Pocket.

MeWario

#23

MeWario said:

Gameboy was the reason I got into gaming and the reason I still love portable gaming more than console gaming =)

arrmixer

#25

arrmixer said:

RIP Gunpei Yokoi I will forever remember your greatest gift: Gameboy. It definitely got me through my early childhood years :). Probably the best christmas gift ever given to me.

Maybe l'll play some tonite in your memory :)

Thanks Damien for the post!

NintyMan

#26

NintyMan said:

Gunpei Yokoi's legacy continues to make waves even to this day and he's one my favorite Nintendo people of all time. He created Game & Watch, Kid Icarus, the Super Mario Land series, the Game Boy, and the Virtual Boy. He also helped create some of my favorite Nintendo characters of all time, including Wario and Pit, along with other notable characters in Daisy and Samus. He was also the mentor for Shigeru Miyamoto who helped him reach greatness.

Before all of this, Yokoi also made some interesting Nintendo toys like the Ultra Hand. He was a video game genius and a Nintendo legend. If he was still in this world, I'm sure he would've been glad seeing Nintendo make the DS and 3DS and expand on the Kid Icarus, Metroid, and Wario franchises. What a man!

AVahne

#28

AVahne said:

Happy Birthday Yokoi!
There is no "Would Have Been", he's still alive in all our hearts and in all the portables that we play on now.

sinalefa

#30

sinalefa said:

I did not remember this date. Yokoi is truly a legend, and he was Miyamoto's mentor. Incredible how seeing a guy fooling around with a calculator would lead to the creation of handheld gaming, truly a visionary.

TanookiMike

#33

TanookiMike said:

Love Yokoi and his work. I wrote a paper about him awhile back analyzing his influence on the industry.

Zombie_Barioth

#35

Zombie_Barioth said:

Its safe to say few have made a bigger splash in the industry than Gunpei Yokoi, I'm sure he would be amazed at how things have changed since then.

I'd break out my gameboy but I think the screen is going out, guess my gameboy color is the next best thing. I still remember playing Gargoyle's Quest and Bomberman growing up.

-Crystalline-

#36

-Crystalline- said:

Thank you so much, Mr. Yokoi, for providing inspiration to the many handheld consoles that followed after your creations. Consoles that gave birth to the best gaming era of my childhood, such as the GBA. Your work will forever live on in every Nintendo game we experience! Thank you!

Terrible_Majesty

#38

Terrible_Majesty said:

Yokoi-san also invented the D-pad aka the + pad which changed the controller forever. He also made the games BattleClash, Mr. Game & Watch,

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