According to the great man himself, Satoru Iwata was always a gamer at heart. Even when he had ascended to the upper echelons of one of the greatest developers the world has ever known, he still maintained his passion for gaming and, just as importantly, his passion for bringing videogames to a wider audience.
It is this love of the industry, perhaps more so than anything else, that led to Iwata having a hand in the production of some of the greatest games to ever appear on Nintendo consoles. Here we will take a look at five great titles that Nintendo’s illustrious former President played a part in creating, so that you can load them up and enjoy a few great games in his memory.
Earthbound – SNES
The sequel to Mother has long been recognised as one of the greatest RPGs to appear on the SNES, which is lofty praise indeed considering this is the console that played host to some of the best games in the Final Fantasy series. Satoru Iwata acted as producer for the game, but his elite programming acumen was called upon when it looked like the game’s development was going to run over budget and past its release date. Scrapping the project and starting over, Iwata managed to code almost every important aspect of the game single-handedly, allowing Hal Laboratory to release it on time.
Pokémon Stadium – N64
Satoru Iwata did not work on the original Pokémon games, but that didn’t prevent him from figuring out the code and creating a battle system for this N64 classic practically on his own. If there is one game that highlights the great man’s genius it would be Pokémon Stadium, as he made the difficult task of working with another team’s code look extremely easy. As any experienced programmer will tell you, that is no simple task and it was made even harder by the fact that he did it without any reference documentation whatsoever.
Metroid Prime – Gamecube
Once Iwata had ascended to the top of the Nintendo ladder he became the Executive Producer of practically every major game produced under the company banner. While this era produced many brilliant titles, one of the company’s greatest triumphs must surely be Metroid Prime on the Gamecube. Samus Aran had missed out on the N64 era – bar an appearance in Super Smash Bros – but with Metroid Prime it was proven that she could more than handle her own in the 3D arena.
Super Smash Bros Melee – Gamecube
While Iwata had a more direct role in the production of the original Super Smash Bros, there is no denying that Melee was the far superior game. It took everything that made the original so wonderful and simply gave gamers so much more of it, as the game was loaded to the seams with Nintendo fanservice. Iwata also played a huge role in ensuring the game reached players on time, taking it upon himself to tackle the many debugging issues that the team faced as the deadline for release loomed closer. Within three months he had worked out every major kink in the game, allowing the development team to focus on getting it finished.
Pokémon Gold and Silver – Gameboy Colour
The sequel to the smash hit original Pokémon games offered a hundred new Pokémon and a massive new world. Of course, it was both a huge shock and delight for gas of the era to discover that the world of Kanto, which was featured in Red and Blue, was also packed into the Gold and Silver carts. Satoru Iwata was the man responsible. He single-handedly developed the compression technology that allowed Game Freak to offer that extra little bit more to fans, earning him a special thank you in the end credits.
Lee Price is a freelance writer and general miscreant who enjoys video games, movies and making dreary situations better by adding copious amounts of alcohol. Follow him on Twitter @Mr_Lee2112 to read his random musings.