The man behind Nintendo’s enormously influential analog stick has confirmed that he will retire in June. The 68-year-old Genyo Takeda has been involved with some of the company’s most memorable games of the past twenty years, and has made massive contributions to various pieces of hardware.
Takeda was hired in 1971 by Gunpei Yokoi, the man who would go on to spearhead the design of the Game Boy, according to a report from Kotaku. He’s credited as being Nintendo’s very first video game designer, and his technical mastery helped shape the company’s earliest forays into arcade cabinets.
Takeda created two memorable franchises during the NES era; the cult classic action-adventure StarTropics and the ever-popular Punch-Out!! In later years, he served as producer on titles including Pilotwings 64, Dr. Mario 64, and Pokemon Puzzle League.
However, Takeda’s greatest contributions came in the form of hardware innovations. His team figured out how to implement battery saves on NES cartridges, allowing gamers to preserve their progress in large-scale adventures like The Legend of Zelda, a major factor in the system’s ability to edge ahead of its biggest rivals.
Then, in the 1990s, he invented the analog controller that would be introduced alongside the Nintendo 64. Today, the analog stick has become so ubiquitous that it’s difficult to imagine a time before it was introduced, demonstrating the lasting impact of his work.
Takeda was also a huge influence during the development of the Wii. He warned against pursuing higher graphical fidelity, suggesting that Nintendo would run the risk of diminishing returns without continuing to push for innovative gaming experiences.
Platform Technology Development Division head Ko Shiota will take on Takeda’s role as Technology Fellow when his 46-year tenure with Nintendo comes to an end in June. Given his predecessor’s various contributions to the company, those are very big shoes to fill.