Gunpei Yokoi(JP) (September 10, 1941 - October 4, 1997) was a Japanese video game designer who is credited heavily for Nintendo's success in video games. He was the creator of various pieces of Nintendo hardware including the D-pad, Game & Watch, Game Boy, and Virtual Boy, as well as a variety of video game series such as Metroid and Kid Icarus. He taught Mario and The Legend of Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto upon his arrival to the company.


Yokoi was born on September 10, 1941. He was hired by Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi in 1965 as an electrician for a Hanafuda card assembly line. He was promoted once Hiroshi noticed a unique device that Gunpei hand crafted later called the Ultra Hand that extended out and grabbed objects. Hiroshi was so intrigued with the object that he ordered over a million to be made before the holiday rush. The toy was so successful that Gunpei started to create a variety of other toys for the company such as the Ten Billion Barrel and the Nintendo Love Tester. Yokoi went on to design the Game & Watch, being inspired by a bored businessman playing on a calculator whilst on a train. After that, Yamauchi ordered him to supervise Shigeru Miyamoto making Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong became a world-wide success and he would supervise and help Miyamoto make Mario Bros. He gave him some ideas, such as superhuman abilities, to jump of high places without dying. Yokoi then went on to produce games such as Metroid, Kid Icarus, its sequel Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters, Super Mario Land, & Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. His biggest success was in making the Game Boy, a portable handheld which would go on to sell 120 million units. He also made R.O.B. a robot accessory for the NES, and the Virtual Boy, which was a massive flop.

He resigned on August 15, 1996. Upon his departure from Nintendo, Yokoi established Koto Laboratory, where he led the development of the WonderSwan console that was released after his passing.

Nintendo's PR concerning his resignation:

"It is reality that Mr. Yokoi has indeed left, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the failure of the Virtual Boy. There's no doubt that the Virtual Boy was a failure, but the head of the company himself has said that the blame for that rests on the decision to sell it to begin with. The D-pad and Game Boy that Mr. Yokoi developed are incredible. Such a man taking the blame for the 32-bit device and leaving the company is completely made up." [1]


On October 4, 1997, while driving with Etsuo Kisō, a business man with Nintendo, the two of them spotted a car accident. Once they got out to investigate, two cars rammed into the broken car and crushed Yokoi, and gave Kisō two broken bones. After two hours in a hospital, Yokoi was announced dead.

Koto Laboratory named their title Gunpey as a tribute to Yokoi, as he was his original developer.


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