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The Creator Behind The Game Boy Explains Why He Left Nintendo

Gunpei Yokoi, the creator behind the smash hit handheld the Nintendo Game Boy and the disastrous Virtual Boy, explained in a newly published report why he left the company. Yokoi tragically died in 1997, but the common misconception is that he left the Kyoto-based company due to the failure of the Virtual Boy, but that is not the case. Here’s what the late Mr. Yokoi had to say:

“After over thirty years, I left Nintendo,” Yokoi wrote. “After graduating from university, I was at Nintendo the entire time working on playthings, but at the 55-year-old juncture, I thought about working at a job that would allow me even more freedom with my ideas.”

“The day before I retired [from Nintendo], The Nikkei did a big feature on me,” Yokoi wrote, adding that the paper said he was doing so to take responsibility for the Virtual Boy’s failure. “In reality,” Yokoi continued, “I did not resign to ‘take responsibility for the Virtual Boy’s failure.’”

“Since before that, I was thinking that when I turned 55, I wanted to become independent.”

“To put it another way,” Yokoi wrote later in the article, “I came up with a lifetime of ideas and continued making playthings. To continue tweaking Nintendo’s corporate philosophy of ‘niche-type playthings’—that’s the only reason I resigned.”


22 thoughts on “The Creator Behind The Game Boy Explains Why He Left Nintendo”

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  5. Here is a list of things that Gunpei Yokoi invented:

    >Ultra Hand (and many other toys), product that transformed Nintendo in a toys company, before venturing into hardware
    >LIght Gun
    >Game & Watch
    >The D-pad, yes THE D-PAD we all know
    >Donkey Kong (only credited to Miyamoto, but Yokoi had no small part in its development)
    >Famicom (he basically started its development)
    >Metroid (most people only credit Sakamoto, but all he did was destroy the franchise after Yokoi’s passing)
    >Kid Icarus
    >Game Boy
    >Super Famicom (same thing as with the Famicom)
    >Virtual Boy, forced to be released by Nintendo before Yokoi was done with the project

    That guy was a hardware genius and deserves way more recognition than what he gets. Shame most people know him only for “Game Boy and Virtual Boy”, or even just for “Virtual Boy”.

    1. how did sakamoto destroy metroid after yokoi if sakamoto released the best metroid, super metroid?


      1. No, Super Metroid was still Yokoi’s Metroid, which was the rightful evolution of the series from the past two Yokoi Metroids. We saw what happened as soon as Sakamoto made a Metroid without Yokoi, he made Metroid Fusion which failed even at being a Metroidvania. Oh, and what was the name? Oh, that’s right, Other M.
        So YOU gtfo….

      2. Yes, while being part of Yokoi’s team the R&D1, you know, the team responsible for the development….
        He was still the boss around, and you can FEEL in the game how it still feels like the earlier games, it was still Yokoi’s game. Once Sakamoto truly became the head behind Metroid, you saw the U-turn the series took…. heck, Metroid Prime is more Metroid than Sakamoto’s Metroid.
        Sakamoto is credited for Yokoi’s masterpiece because of the “director and writer” labels, which is one of the reasons why Gunpei don’t get nearly the recognition it deserves.

        1. i’m not talking about gunpei in relation to metroid, i’m talking about this dumb insistence on trashing sakamoto when he always was a pivotal part of the original dev team, he wrote super metroid and other m and zero mission and fusion, gave his blessing to the prime series, etc. and he gave us the wario games, so shhh

  6. I’m the only turd that liked the Virtual Boy? The pad was just the best ever, and I had fun with Red Alarm. I had no money to buy other games but it was a cool machine. Also very beautiful aesthetically. The CPU was 32-bit but graphics wasn’t really up to the task (the battery was the problem eventually).

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