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!
Good on you, Nintendo.
Always nice to see things like this.
Oh, my. As a big fan of this series, this got my attention. As a sensitive dude at 31, this made me shed a tear. Very cool of Nintendo, and may Hibiki rock on!
@Joeynator3000 It's a generic response to reply in braille?
@Damo I meant the message itself. >.<
Nintendo is always so cool like this. Great story.
@Joeynator3000 @Damo Not to mention that thier reply was specific to the kids letter.
Wow, 140 characters in Japanese can tell a whole paragraph worth of story.
It's nice to hear stories like this, and I always take solace in the fact that, if I were to suffer from any kind of disability or impairment in the future, I could continue to enjoy video games thanks to Nintendo releases such as Rhythm Paradise, 1 2 Switch and Mario Kart 8.
It's part of what makes the company special - the ethos that games "should be one thing - fun. Fun for everyone."
That's awesome, he's considerably better at Rhythm Heaven than I am. My rhythm is horrible, but I find the games hilarious and would love a Switch entry in the series.
Lovely I like things like this
Hate to be that guy.... Good job, you accomplished that.👍🏻
@Joeynator3000 How on earth can that be a generic letter? It lists the specific games! It's in Braille!
I hope you realise that this is a unique and special response from Nintendo, as a company, with decisions to reply in this manner made by individual people - people who, it appears, have a lot more compassion and respect for achievement and dedication than yourself. Are you next going to tell me that the individual creators of these games would not be delighted to know that their work had brought someone in less advantageous circumstances than others - a ton of joy?.
I deleted the post, just....ignore it. -.-
Good stuff, love these kind of stories.
@Frosty_09 Excellent idea!!
"Hibiki"??? Hmm....That's a bit suspicious, as Hibiki means "sound" or "echo" in Japanese. A little too convenient, perhaps.
@edcomics Hibiki is also interesting because it works as either a first or last name. (Kind of like Paul.) I think it's more typical as a first name for girls than for boys... A boy named Hibiki who just so happens to be blinded as a baby is definitely a one-of-a-kind case.
This reminds me of one of the clients at my job from years ago... He too was blind, although he was in his 20's at the time. One of his favorite games to play was Super Mario Bros. Even though he couldn't see what was going on, he could play by figuring out when each sound played, since they're so distinctive. (For example, you get hit by the first goomba in World 1-1 after a couple seconds, so even if you're blind, you learn to jump over it.)
Of course, this case in Japan is a fine example of why the rhythm genre is important to keep going. However, it also highlights how most games from Nintendo in particular are recognizable by sound alone. This gives them an aural identity that many games almost completely lack. (Besides BGM and voice acting.)
There are recorded instances of people playing through games like Super Mario World blindfolded. Even though it would take a long time, it is therefore possible for someone who is blind to do so as well, especially if someone is describing the levels to them as they play.
There are many facets to game design- some of which are altogether ignored by many. This is why Nintendo in particular is an important force in the world- almost no one else creates recreational activities that are inclusive to such a degree. Even if they weren't made with the blind in mind, the way sounds are planned out in congruence with the design of Nintendo's games represents their ability to transcend their original intent.
I got more personal and emotional emails from their customer service, honestly. But they were not in braille - the tactile writing system that warms the heart.
Sadly, games with genre like that (Rhythm mostly) usually abandoned by most 3rd party developers and also the gamers themself are soo.... picky. Most game developers are in race to create the most HD , Violent, Badass words, Bloodiest, forget this simple aspects while most consumers are really demanding those NSFW genres Too Much. They saw Rhythm games like a piece of junks, not a worthy games to play.
Nintendo is really care with this Handicapped customers while I noticed Sony (Almost??) Never care with customers.
Hibiki's hat reminds me of Parappa's.
I wonder if that is deliberate.
@Joeynator3000 I know what you meant. The message itself was generic, the method wasn't.
It's cool that blind people can play some Nintendo games. It was the same with Wii. It allowed people with physical disabilities to play video games that they otherwise wouldn't have been able to play.
Yeah...anyways I'm still waiting for Rhythm Heaven DIY. lol
I never cared for rhythm games, but I hope they keep making them for this kid and others like him.
The response was so formal and professionally written that its easy to seem impersonal, but I guess they have to keep it that way if they're representing the entire company and not one employee.
Wow that is amazing. I can't even complete the Monkey Watch one on the Wii.
I would love a Rhythm Heaven game on the Switch too, and I can see just fine!
Truly heartwarming. It's easy to forget that a hobby that many (including myself) take for granted is not as easily accessible for others. Hibiki is an awesome drummer as well!
I'm with him, Rhythm Heaven on Switch at E3. Subtitled Hibiki with him as a character. Make it so Nintendo. What an atypical company, I love them, and what an amazing kid.
I always enjoy reading heart warming stories from a cold and cruel world. There are good people in all parts of the world and today it happens to be Japan! Happy Monday everyone.
Totally caught off guard; definitely wasn't expecting to start crying. An inspiring and touching reminder why I love Nintendo games so much, it's that personal touch that separates Nintendo from other rank and file companies.
Here's hoping for a sequel on the Switch!
Awwwwwwww! This makes me smile! On a side note I wish I could play drums/any instrument like that, what a legend!
That's one tough kid. Hats off!
Admittedly it is a small gesture, yet so is this, and both show care for their handicapped customers. Both Sony and Nintendo do show care in this department, and whilst there do tend to be more violent games for Sony's console than Nintendo's, there would also be games that Hibiki could play, like Pappa the Rapper, so it's quite wrong to say that Sony barely care for handicapped customers whatsoever
Great gesture on Nintendo's part. Shame their customer service elsewhere in the world is pathetic.
I definitely believe that more games need to incorporate playstyles and concepts which are accessible to players of all abilities. This doesn't mean they have to be easy, as pointed out by the kid himself! Just different.
More creativity to foster a culture of inclusivity is without doubt another frontier of gaming which needs much further exploration, for all our benefits.
I would love to play more games which surprised me in new ways, and that weren't so dependant on traditional visual concepts.
More wild ideas for everyone- challenge our perceptions of what video games are, and what they can be!
I love this series. It's one of my all time favorites and to see someone who can no longer see be able be have so much fun with the games, write a letter to the company who made them and get a touching response is really sweet. I hope he does get to experience more in life and is safe and happy.
Rhythm Paradise / Beat-A-Beat doesn't get enough recognition for how great it actually is for a rhythm game. For people with no eyesight there's probably nothing better out there.
A lovely story. More Rhythm Heaven on Switch is a must.
Very nice! And of course Rhythm tengoku is a great series!
Never realized what a little rhythm game could mean to somebody before I read this...puts a tear in my eye.
I never cared much for this type of game, but after reading I hope Nintendo comes out with 10 more.
See, this is why I love Nintendo.
Giving a personalized response is awesome. Sending it in braille so he can read it himself? Incredibly beautiful.
Well done, Nintendo.
Rhythm Heaven is probably my favourite series ever and I want it to continue on somehow with the Switch. I'd love to see where the game heads to next!
Also I should just point out that the translation is a bit off. They didn't just tell Nintendo they are looking forward to the next installment but also directed it to the Music Producer of the game, Tsunku. It's not really a big deal but I am a massive fan of Tsunku because of his work with Rhythm Heaven and his own music so he deserves to not be omitted I think. He really is the one who has made Rhythm Heaven the game it has become because of all his amazing music.
So heartwarming... when you remember that some people have difficulties (me included) but they are still able to enjoy Nintendo games. ^_^ I really love Rhythm Paradise (as it's known in Europe) because you can feel so engaged in playing it without looking at the screen. The music is amazing and charming too.
I love how they really took notice of his impairment and wrote him a letter in braille. That much have been so special...
I hope this becomes a trend for Switch games to be more including for all kinds of players. MK8 DX is certainly a step in the right direction!
And people sit here complaining about the Auto-Steer feature in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, because "it makes it easier to play", and "it makes it unfair to those who know how to play".
Yeah, THAT'S THE WHOLE F****** POINT.
Truly, the world has reached a new level of entitlement altogether.
I know! Put a nice lump in my throat too. Man, it was awesome enough that they replied all, but to respond in Braille?! Love it.
@Anti-Matter "Nintendo is really care with this Handicapped customers while I noticed Sony (Almost??) Never care with customers."
The PS4 has an entire menu dedicated to accessability options. From color blind mode, close captioning, custom button assignments etc to say Sony doesnt care at all is just ignorant.
Wow. This is such a wonderful story! If Nintendo ever needed a reason besides money to continue making Rhythm Heaven games, it would be kids like this boy!
Someone needs to get this kid a copy of Nintendo's SoundVoyager for the GBA STAT!!!!
He obviously likes music and already owns a GBA, so this is a no brainer. Please, if you speak Japanese and/or use twitter, go tell this kid about SoundVoyager!!
I never really thought about it before. People can be sarcastic, but it was very nice of Nintendo to do what they did.
People complain, but Sony, for instance, can't even handle its payment methods, and Nintendo finds the time to answer(via braille) a blind gamer...
That's why I love Nintendo..
No watch... he will be the first person to get the Nintendo Switch VR.
Also, you don't need to be able to see in order to play "Space Channel 5".
Speaking of which, "Sega? Can I please get a sequel or at the very least a remaster?"
I hope Nintendo actually does make a new Rhythm Heaven...
Tap here to load 54 comments
Leave A Comment
Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...