When people think of Nintendo, they tend to think of either Mario-creator Shigeru Miyamoto or the late president, Satoru Iwata, but 68-year-old Genyo Taekda belongs right next to those names. And now, he’s set to retire at the end of June after 45 years with the company.

Takeda was hired in 1972, and created the company’s very first game. No, not Mario Bros.; it was a horse-racing game called EVR Race. He also worked on NES classics Punch-Out!! and StarTropics.

Batteries and sticks

It’s his contributions to hardware, though, that are the most memorable. When The Legend of Zelda launched in the west, it featured the first back-up memory in a Nintendo cartridge. Takeda and his team are the reason you can rename Link to BUTT and have it be that way when you come back the next day.

He’s also responsible for the palm-destroying analog stick on the Nintendo 64 controller and the modem peripherals on the GameCube. He even helped shape the Nintendo Wii. As a lead developer on the console, he helped point it down the road Nintendo is currently on, of going for lower-power consoles that try to address their users’ interests rather than trying to compete with the power of Microsoft and Sony’s systems. In other words, he’s as responsible as Miyamoto is for the path Nintendo has ended up taking.

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