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Nintendo visionary and former president Hiroshi Yamauchi dies aged 85

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Hiroshi Yamauchi
Hiroshi Yamauchi

Hiroshi Yamauchi, the man responsible for making Nintendo a world-leading gaming company has passed away aged 85.

Reigning as Nintendo President for over 50 years, Yamauchi was responsible for overseeing the creation of Nintendo’s famous IP games like Mario, Donkey Kong and Zelda.

A Nintendo spokesman said the firm is mourning the “loss of the former Nintendo president Mr Hiroshi Yamauchi, who sadly passed away this morning.”

The man responsible for the company’s transition into video gaming died from pneumonia in a central Japan hospital this morning.

The company’s third president, Yamauchi ran Nintendo from 1949 until 2002 having taken over from his grandfather.

Arguably the most important influence on the company, Yamauchi oversaw the company’s transformation from a playing card manufacturer to a big name in video games and consoles.

Reknowned for his business philosophy that put the quality of video games above that of the hardware, Yamauchi hired Shigeru Miyamoto in 1977 as Nintendo’s chief game designer. The pair created Zelda, Mario and Donkey Kong, all of which went on to be household names and huge successes for Nintendo.

Yamauchi saw the Game & Watch launch in 1980 as the first handheld console, followed by the Famicom in 1983.

Then Yamauchi masterminded the introduction of the first Super Mario Bros game in 1985, which accompanied the launch of the Famicom in the US as the Nintendo Entertainment System or NES.

The 1990s was a busy decade for Yamauchi as Nintendo released a flurry of Game Boy handheld consoles, the Super Nintendo in 1991 and the Nintendo 64 in 1996 as the first full 3D console. In 1997, Super Mario 64 was released on the Nintendo 64 to great critical acclaim.

Yamauchi’s reign ended after the GameCube when he stepped down as president in 2002, replaced by Satoru Iwata.

Until 2005, he took up a place on the company’s board of directors.

One of Japan’s richest men, Yamauchi also used to own the Seattle Mariners baseball club, although he never attended a single game.

Next, read why the Wii U is Nintendo’s Dreamcast.

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