Yusuke Nakano is a long-time illustrator at Nintendo, mostly known for his work in the art of The Legend of Zelda series. He has worked for the company since 1992.

He creates the artwork for many Nintendo published video games, or at least helps supervise the creation of art. According to him, before he creates artwork for a particular character or item, he'll sit down with the game's developers to help him determine what exactly to create. Because of the shifts in character design, it's a challenge for him to complete a concrete piece of artwork. He has been considered one of Nintendo's primary artists.


Self-portrait with a miniature Mario sitting on his shoulder.

In the beginning, Nakano was, like many illustrators at Nintendo, a fan of comic books. He was particularly fond of American comics and appreciated the work done by Richard Corben and Frank Frazetta. In school, he was concerned that he wouldn't be able to get a job as an artist. At the same time, he didn't view video games as anything special. After playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and the Fire Emblem series, he began to really have a love for the medium. He noticed that the art used in these games were not only the art that he loves, though the kind that he specializes in as well, which urged him to get a job at Nintendo.

He started work on video game illustration in Nintendo R&D1 with Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 as the packaging designer along with Fujiko Nomura. He later went on to work on Super Metroid's printed artwork and various Virtual Boy video games. Later on, he moved to Nintendo EAD, where he worked on various Nintendo 64 video games, which include the likes of Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64; in those titles, he would create CG artwork, though also for games such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which features traditional hand drawn images.

He got the Ocarina of Time job after hearing about the game and creating a couple concepts for the game's directors. They loved the drawings he made, and chose him to draw the artwork for Link and various others. His favorite to draw was Impa, though he also like to draw Ganondorf as well. Following Ocarina of Time, he worked on various other Zelda titles as well, including Majora's Mask, The Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess. In Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages, he designed the characters on behalf of the development team at Capcom. He has also designed various pieces of art for games such as Wave Race: Blue Storm and even Animal Crossing.

According to Nakano, the first game in which he worked on a game during its earliest stages was with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the Wii and GameCube, where he was the main character designer. Not only did he help create the artwork, though he also gave examples to the team on how they could express Link, Zelda, and many of the game's monsters via sketches that he drew. After art director Satoru Takizawa and him came up with an idea, Shigeru Miyamoto and game director Eiji Aonuma would give their input, until they eventually came up with the final design.

Curently, Nakano's work consists mostly on illustration management, although he has sometimes drawn illustrations by himself on some of the most recent Zelda titles. Nakano also designed the banner artwork for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, featuring all of the fighters in the title.


  • Yusuke Nakano has explained that during the time of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, he was deeply into the comic book Hellboy, saying that it probably helped shape the game in one way or another.

Game Works

Please note that some of the credits of this list are taken from instruction manuals and are not present in the in-game staff rolls.

Special Thanks


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