You may not know the name as well as you know Miyamoto (creator of Mario, Zelda and everything else) or Iwata (late beloved and humble CEO), but Genyo Takeda, a designer who has worked at Nintendo since 1971, was responsible for a lot of what the company grew to become. Today he announced his retirement.
Takeda worked on some of Nintendo’s very first ventures into arcade gaming, such as an analog light gun game that barely worked on the day it was to be presented to investors (Takeda was inside, manually adjusting the score of the thing). In 1983 he took a surplus of video monitors left over from Donkey Kong and created the two-monitor arcade game Punch-Out!! He would watch over the series he created from that point, providing input into the Super NES and Wii sequels.
Perhaps Takeda’s greatest contribution, however, is his most controversial: he was one of the guys really pushing for Nintendo to emphasize hardware gimmicks over cutting-edge graphics. Sometimes this approach worked (Wii became their most successful console since the original NES) and sometimes it didn’t (turns out no one wanted a second screen on a console game). The emphasis on things like motion controls and quirky controllers is something that has alienated third parties since the N64 days and prevented Nintendo from offering a diverse library.
Takeda is retiring at 68. His position will be filled by Ko Shiota, who is currently the general manager of Nintendo’s Platform Technology Development Division.