Alternate History

Gunpei Yokoi (Ohga Shrugs)

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Gunpei Yokoi (born September 10, 1941) is a Japanese video game designer. He is a long-time Nintendo
Gunpei Yokoi

Gunpei Yokoi with his Creation: The Gameboy

employee, creator of the Game Boy and Game & Watch handheld systems, inventor of the modern day D-pad, and producer of several long-running and critically acclaimed video game franchises. Today, he works as an adviser for Nintendo's new hardware and as a mentor for several younger directors.

Before Ohga Shrugs

Born in 1941, Yokoi grew up in Kyoto, Japan. After earning a degree in electronics, he was hired by Nintendo in 1965. In 1970, the then-president of Nintendo, Hiroshi Yamauchi, took notice of a toy Yokoi made for his own amusement. The toy, which became known as the Ultra Hand, became a proper product, and opened up a new career path for Gunpei Yokoi designing toys for Nintendo.

When Nintendo decided to get into the video game business in 1974, Yokoi became one of its first designers. During a train ride, he saw a businessman playing with a calculator, inspiring him to create the Game & Watch line of handheld games, which were produced from 1980 to 1991.

In 1981, Yamauchi appointed Yokoi to supervise Donkey Kong, an arcade game created by Shigeru Miyamoto. During the process, Yokoi acted as a mentor to Miyamoto. The two worked also together on 1983's Mario Bros. In this game, Yokoi proposed adding multiplayer and removing fall damage.

As Nintendo began working on making games for their own home consoles, Gunpei Yokoi was made the producer of several R&D1 games such as Kid Icarus and Metroid. He also designed the Game Boy.

After Ohga Shrugs

Throughout the early to mid 90's Yokoi pushed for the creation of a gaming system with 3D visuals. However, Nintendo ultimately did not approve the product, despite pouring some time and money into the product. Yokoi protested, but ultimately made his peace with the idea. He soon left Nintendo as a full-time employee, but not before finishing the Pocket redesign for the Game Boy in 1996.

In 1997, Yokoi returned to Nintendo to work on a part-time basis. He became a consultant for Nintendo's upcoming pieces of hardware, and also acted as a producer and supervisor for various games, including 2002's Metroid Prime. Yokoi's most notable work of the era was the 1999 Game Boy Micro, a revision of the original Game Boy that required a single battery, pushing for the inclusion of Pit from Kid Icarus as a character in the 2001 title Super Smash Bros Melee, and advising Nintendo to use touch screen technology for the Game Boy Nitro.

Ultimately, Gunpei Yokoi ultimately retired on October 4, 2006. He has since been interviewed on a number of occasions, and has appeared at several events. Most notable is his attendance at the 2011 Tokyo Game Show, where he gave a talk about the development of the original Game Boy.

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