Japanese boy Hibiki Sakai was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in both eyes at the age of one and a half, and following the surgical procedures necessary to save his life has been completely blind since the age of two. That hasn't stopped him indulging in many passions; he's a talented drummer and, like many children his age, loves video games - especially Nintendo ones.
Hibiki is a massive fan of Nintendo's Rhythm Tengoku / Heaven series, which is understandable as it's one of the few gaming franchises which can be played via audio cues alone. Hibiki decided to write a letter of thanks to Nintendo for creating this series, and his father has posted the reply he received online.
Here's what the tweet says:
My son Hibiki is blind and has perfectly cleared every game in the Rhythm Tengoku series, the only games he can play. He sent Nintendo a letter and they actually responded! Them sending such a sincere correspondence to just one person is truly divine customer service. Nintendo, we’re anxiously awaiting the next installment in the series!
Here's Hibiki's original thank-you letter to Nintendo:
Hello. My name is Hibiki Sakai and I am in fifth grade. I am blind, but I’ve always wanted to play video games like everyone else. But there aren’t many games I can play at all. The one game I can really play is Rhythm Tengoku. It’s the only game I can enjoy together with others, and I never lose at it. I’ve gotten perfect scores on all the versions on the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Wii, and 3DS too.
So I really, really want you to make more Rhythm Tengoku games. And it’s perfectly fine if you make them a little harder too!
I think that there are a lot of other kids with visual impairments who want to play video games but can’t. So I’d love for you to develop more games for people with handicaps to enjoy playing with others.
I will always support you, Nintendo.
From Hibiki Sakai
Keeping in mind that Nintendo must get thousands of letters like this one every week - and that Hibiki wasn't asking for anything in return, he was merely expressing his gratitude - the reply he got from Nintendo is all the more remarkable.
The company replied in braille so Hibiki could read it himself, and here's what it said:
Thank you so much for sending us here at Nintendo your heartwarming letter.
We are so happy to hear that you’ve perfected and enjoyed Rhythm Tengoku, Rhythm Tengoku Gold, Minna no Rhythm Tengoku, and Rhythm Tengoku The Best.
We have passed on your letter to Nintendo’s development department. We want to keep making games that everyone can have fun playing, so thank you for your support.
The fact that Nintendo not only took the time to reply, but to reply in a way in which Hibiki could read just shows how much the company values the support of its fans. It also shows how important it is to create software for people with visual impairments, so they too can share the jot of gaming.
Hibiki is clearly one outstanding little boy, and a fantastic Nintendo fan. As his father puts it, “It’s not having a disability that causes sorrow, but letting the disability hold you back that causes it.” As you can see from the footage below, Hibiki clearly isn't allowing his blindness get in the way of doing what he enjoys:
Hibiki, you've got our support as well. Here's hoping that Nintendo chooses to make many more entries in the Rhythm Heaven series.
Thanks to Roy Holt for the tip!