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Gunpei Yokoi

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Gunpei Yokoi (September 10, 1941 – October 4, 1997) was a former Nintendo employee and video game developer, working as the manager for the company's former Research & Development 1 division, as well as being known as the mentor of Shigeru Miyamoto. Working at the company for over thirty years, Yokoi is most well-known as the inventor of products such as the Game & Watch and Game Boy, and as the producer for franchises such as Metroid and Kid Icarus.


Born on September 10, 1941, Gunpei Yokoi was raised in Kyoto, Japan. After graduating from Doshisha University with an electronics degree, Yokoi was hired by Nintendo in 1965 as a maintenance worker. In 1966, while looking around the Nintendo headquarters, president at the time Hiroshi Yamauchi noticed an extendable arm toy that Yokoi had created in his spare time. Interested in the product, he told Yokoi to mass-produce and sell it. The Ultra Hand was a huge commercial success, and Yokoi worked on a number of additional successful toys, such as the Ultra Machine and Love Tester.

When Nintendo decided to enter the video game market in 1974, Gunpei Yokoi was made one of the company's first video game designers. As a game designer, Yokoi created the Game & Watch LCD game series, as well as assisting Shigeru Miyamoto with several of his first projects, such as Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. Yokoi would later be the producer for several of Nintendo R&D1's games, as well as helping in creating the Game Boy line.

Following the commercial failure of the Virtual Boy, Yokoi left the company in August 1996, after he had completed work on the more successful Game Boy Pocket. Yokoi had originally wanted to retire at age 50, but work on the Virtual Boy and its failure had pushed his plans back. Yokoi, along with several other former Nintendo employees who had worked under him, went on to found his own company, Koto Laboratory. Under Koto, he worked with Bandai to create the WonderSwan handheld console.

On October 4, 1997, Yokoi rear-ended a truck driving on the Hokuriku Expressway, 250 miles northeast of Tokyo. While inspecting the damages, he was hit and fatally injured by two passing cars, resulting in his death.

In 2003, Yokoi posthumously received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Game Developers Choice Awards.




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Game Year Console Role / credit
Donkey Kong 1981 Arcade / NES Produced By
Donkey Kong 1983 Arcade / NES Produced By
Mario Bros. 1983 Arcade / NES Producer
Metroid 1986 NES Produced By
Super Mario Land 1989 Game Boy Producer
Dr. Mario 1990 NES / Game Boy Game Designer, Producer
Metroid II: Return of Samus 1991 Game Boy Producer
Yoshi's Cookie 1992 NES / SNES / Game Boy Producer
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins 1992 Game Boy Producer
Mario & Wario 1993 SNES Executive Producer
Super Metroid 1994 SNES General Manager
Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 1994 Game Boy Producer
Tetris & Dr. Mario 1994 SNES Design consultant
Mario's Tennis 1995 Virtual Boy Producer
Mario Clash 1995 Virtual Boy Producer
Virtual Boy Wario Land 1995 Virtual Boy Producer
Panel de Pon / Tetris Attack 1996 SNES Executive Producer
3-D Tetris 1996 Virtual Boy Producer
Dr. Mario 64 2001 Nintendo 64 Original Concept
Nintendo Puzzle Collection 2003 Nintendo GameCube Conception

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