Genyo Takeda will be receiving special honors at the DICE Awards in Las Vegas next month. The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences has confirmed that Takeda will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement award.
Takeda spent over 40 years at Nintendo, having joined the company in 1972. He was the company’s co-representative director and “Technology Fellow” towards the end of his career. While he’s now retired, Takeda currently currently serves as a Special Corporate Adviser.
Takeda played a role in the development of games such as Punch-Out!! and StarTropics, but will ultimately be remembered for his role with hardware. He and his team created the Nintendo 64, GameCube, Wii U, and Wii.
The pinnacle of Takeda’s game design career was surely the creation of Punch-Out!!, Nintendo’s iconic boxing game series, in 1984. The project had an unlikely genesis: Nintendo had a surplus of televisions at its manufacturing plant, and Takeda’s division was asked to come up with an arcade game that used two monitors. After experimenting with different configurations and game genres, Takeda and Miyamoto decided to create a boxing game that displayed character portraits, health, and high scores on the upper monitor, and massive cartoonish pugilists on the bottom.
Besides working on the grand concepts for his games, Takeda also had a penchant for obsessing over the small details, Miyamoto recalled in the 2009 interview. Takeda was the one who came up with the idea of giving the game’s first, weak boxer the punny name “Glass Joe,” Miyamoto said.
“The reason I was so focused on the boxing gloves and the naming of the characters was because I had the American market in mind,” Takeda replied. He felt that Punch-Out!! would have its best shot at success in American arcades, so he made it a point to reach out to Nintendo of America and get its staff members involved in development. (The voice of the announcer in Punch-Out!! belongs to NOA employee Don James, now an executive vice president of the company, who will present the Lifetime Achievement award to Takeda at the DICE Awards ceremony next month.)
The Punch-Out!! series would soon expand to the NES and SNES systems, also under Takeda’s supervision. Takeda’s group within Nintendo, still looking to appeal to the Western audience, would also produce StarTropics, an RPG series that was only released in America. He’s also credited with developing the battery-based system that allowed players to save their games on NES cartridges, beginning with The Legend of Zelda.
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